Should I tell my doctor I am taking Chinese herbal medicine?

Yes. In the same way that Lily needs to know what medication you are on before prescribing you herbal medicine, your doctor should know about any herbal medicine you are taking. This allows your doctor to safely prescribe new medication or change medication with the full knowledge of other medicines that you may already be taking.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Are there any side effects to the treatments?

Side effects with Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are extremely uncommon.  However when they do occur, they are generally mild and short-lived.

Following Chinese herbal medicine, you may experience bloating and changes in sleep or bowel movements but these usually subside after 48 hours as your body gets used to the herbs being in your system.

The most common side effects of acupuncture are light-headedness and mild bruising at points where acupuncture has been performed. Most patients report a deep sensation of relaxation or mild disorientation immediately following the treatment and may simply require a short period of rest before returning to their daily activities.

Cupping treatments usually leave dull marks on the skin where it was performed but these usually disappear within 7 days. Adverse reactions such as blistering are extremely rare and usually only occur when patients have extremely sensitive skin.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Do you offer treatments for people who are scared of needles?

Lily offers alternatives to acupuncture such as acupressure, cupping, moxibustion and gua sha as well as Chinese herbal medicine. It may also be that your condition is more effectively treated with these alternative treatments rather than acupuncture in the first place. For example, eczema is generally more effectively treated with herbal medicine alone rather than acupuncture alone. However, it is common to combine both treatments together in order to increase the effectiveness of the TCM therapies. At your initial consultation, Lily will advise you on the treatment therapies that are most suitable for your individual requirements. Together with you, she can work out a treatment plan that fits into your life, taking into account any other commitments you may have as well as your personal condition, in order that the TCM therapy most appropriate for you is decided upon.

Posted by Lily Lai.

How can I improve the effectiveness of my treatment?

Make a mental note of any changes to your symptoms and when they occur. These will help Lily monitor your response to the acupuncture treatment and adjust the treatment according to the changes in your body that are occurring. Lily may have also advised you on various lifestyle or dietary adjustments which will help your overall condition by complimenting the treatment you are already receiving. It is best if you can incorporate these changes so that they can fit into your everyday activities. However, it can be challenging to make adjustments to your life and if you are finding it difficult to follow any recommendations Lily has given you, she can help you find ways to make these changes more manageable.

Posted by Lily Lai.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments required depends on your personal response to Chinese medicine therapy as well as the type of condition you are suffering from. With acupuncture, you may only need one or two sessions for minor problems or recently-occurring conditions but for conditions which are long-standing, you may be asked to visit once a week for a couple of months. As a general rule, you should start to experience improvements after four or five acupuncture treatments.

Responses to Chinese herbal medicine depends on the type of medicine you are taking.  Prescriptive dried herbs which you must boil into a soup are the strongest type and you can notice improvements within a couple of days. Tablets on the other hand are much more gentle and so can be slower to act on the body, sometimes taking up to six weeks before you see improvements.

Posted by Lily Lai.

I find it difficult to swallow pills. Is there an alternative?

Herbal pills are available that come in smaller sizes which make it easier to swallow. Herbal medicine can also be taken in the form of powders or granules which you can simply mix the recommended dosage with warm water to provide an instant herbal tea. At your consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your preferences in the administration of Chinese herbal medicine with Lily.

Posted by Lily Lai.

How do I prepare herbal tea prescriptions?

When you receive a herbal tea prescription from Lily, you will usually receive several pre-packed bags of dried Chinese herbs. It is common practice to use one bag of herbs a day.

First place one bag of Chinese herbs in a deep pan. It is best to use a ceramic or glass pot but stainless steel pots are also acceptable. Add one and a half pints of cold water and soak for approximately 30 minutes. Place the pan with the herbs and water on the cooker and bring to boil with the lid on. Once it has starting boiling, reduce the fire and leave to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain out the liquid into a large bowl. Add another pint of cold water into the pan and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and again, simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain out the second boiling of tea into the same bowl with the original tea and stir. Separate the herbal tea into two servings which should be approximately two mugs worth. Drink one mug of tea whilst it is still warm. Leave the other mug of tea in the fridge and warm it up later on when you are due to take it again.

You can start boiling the herbs either from the morning or the evening, whichever fits best into your schedule. It is recommended that you boil the herbs fresh everyday but it is acceptable to boil two day's worth of herbs and to keep the tea in the fridge if you find that you cannot fit the tea preparation into your schedule. Once you receive your dry Chinese herbs from Lily, please store them in a cool dry place away from bright sunlight and out of children's reach.

Please note that this information has been provided as a guideline only. Different cooking methods and administration times may be used when certain herbs are prescribed. You should always follow specific cooking instructions that Lily has provided you with your herbal tea prescription. Your herbal tea prescription has been specifically prescribed for your personal use and, as with all medicines, must not be used by others, even if they have similar symptoms to yourself. If you have any further queries or are in doubt at any point about your herbal tea preparation, please check with Lily so that she can help answer any questions you may have.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Should I continue taking my prescribed medications whilst taking Chinese herbs?

Yes. Your medication has been prescribed for a specific problem and in most cases would be dangerous for you to stop without first speaking to your doctor. Lily always asks for details of your current medication and any known drug or food allergies prior to prescribing you Chinese herbal medicine. Your Chinese herbal medicine will only be prescribed with your current medication and allergy history taken into consideration.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Are Chinese herbs safe to take?

Over the last few years there has been bad press surrounding Chinese herbal medicine with reports of kidney and liver failure in connection with the use of Chinese herbs. This was largely due to contamination of herbs at source with toxic varieties of the same plant. Some unlicensed Chinese medicine shops have also been found to sell Western steroid cream as Chinese herbal cream. This is why it is vitally important that the Chinese medicine you receive is provided by a suitably trained TCM practitioner. Lily is a member of the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ATCM) and the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM). All herbal products that are prescribed to patients are purchased from ATCM and RCHM-approved suppliers only who must undergo an independent external audit that checks importation restrictions, storage and safety standards. Both dried herbs and herbal products that are supplied by Lily are therefore quality and safety-assured.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Should I choose herbal tea over herbal pills?

The choice of administering Chinese herbal medicine depends on a range of factors. For complex cases, it is more appropriate to take prescriptive herbal tea because each herb is individually chosen by Lily.  This means problems occurring in your body can be more directly addressed with a herbal tea preparation. Standard herbal pills are generally offered if you have a chronic and longstanding problem since they are gentler and slow-acting.

Lily will always prescribe you Chinese herbal medicine with your individual needs in mind so that the best course of treatment and the right type of administration is chosen for you.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Why do I need to take so many pills per dosage?

Herbal pills are not as concentrated as pharmaceutical drugs and you may need to take more pills than you would normally take when you are prescribed Western medicines. Depending on the type of medicine and your personal constitution, you can expect to take between two pills to eight pills per dosage, two or three times per day. You may find it easier to split the dosage up so that you can take a few pills at a time.

Posted by Lily Lai.

What does herbal tea taste like?

This depends on the herbs that are prescribed but it is common for Chinese herbal tea to taste slightly bitter.  This is because roots and barks are frequently prescribed which contain the strongest active ingredients. The tea will usually be balanced so that sweeter herbs are added to reduce the bitterness of other herbs that may be necessary in your prescription.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Why do your prescriptions contain more than one herb?

With a few exceptions, when you are prescribed Chinese herbal medicine, it is quite common for Lily to prescribe you approximately ten different types of herbs. The herbal prescription that is written for you is always based on a classic prescription that has been used for thousands of years within the history of Chinese medicine for your presenting condition. Such prescriptions contain groups of herbs that have been known to work well together and which usually have a much more powerful effect when used in combination rather than singularly. For this reason, Chinese herbal tea prescriptions commonly adopt several groups of herbs that work in synergy to treat the problem from different aspects so as to allow you to experience the greatest benefit.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Why do you change the acupuncture points when you see me for treatments?

You may find that Lily changes your acupuncture prescription between your visits. This may be because your condition has responded to previous treatments and the acupuncture points must therefore be altered in order to continue supporting that effect. Some acupuncture points tend to work best when used alongside other points for certain conditions and it is quite common, particularly for long-standing problems, for Lily to alternate between sets of acupuncture points in order that you receive the most benefit from your treatment.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Is acupuncture covered by my private health insurance?

Lily's patients are currently able to claim partial or entire costs of their acupuncture treatments with the following private healthcare companies:

Please check your individual entitlement on your policy.  Companies require that you obtain a receipt from Lily which can either be provided after each treatment or at the end of a course of treatment.  

If your private health insurance company is not listed above, please check with them directly.

Posted by Lily Lai.

What should I look for in an acupuncturist?

You should always check the following from your acupuncturist and herbalist:

  • they are fully insured and registered with the relevant regulatory bodies
  • details of qualifications and the duration of training they have undertaken for their therapies
  • whether they have had experience in treating the problem that you are suffering from and what their success rate is like
  • how many treatments they would expect you to need before you will notice improvements.
Posted by Lily Lai.

What is the difference between Western and Traditional acupuncture?

Western acupuncture bases its diagnoses and principles of acupuncture treatment on modern concepts of Western medicine. Most conventional doctors, nurses and physiotherapists use this form of acupuncture and tend to work by isolating the problem being treated and concentrating on establishing changes in the pathophysiology of that condition.

Traditional acupuncture focuses centrally on the theories of Qi flow along meridians and of yin and yang in order to establish patterns of disharmony within the body. Practitioners of traditional acupuncture view the body holistically and aim to balance the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects in order to address the problems that are happening throughout your body. This makes traditional acupuncture particularly popular amongst those who present with a number of apparently unconnected problems which may actually be classic symptoms and signs of a certain disharmony seen in traditional Chinese medical practice.

Posted by Lily Lai.

Are there any circumstances where you should not have acupuncture?

Acupuncture is generally not recommended if you:

  • have low blood counts - the risk of bleeding is increased if you have a low platelet count, and the risk of infection is increased if you have a low white blood cell count
  • suffer from haemophilia
  • have lymphoedema as the risk of infection is increased if acupuncture is performed on limbs with poor lymph drainage.

Acupuncture must be performed by a competent practitioner such as Lily if you:

  • are pregnant - some acupuncture points should be avoided or stimulated more gently as strong stimulation can cause contractions of the womb
  • are undergoing fertility treatments, such as IUI and IVF
  • wear a pacemaker or have a heart murmur.
Posted by Lily Lai.