Raw Herb Powders and Powdered Herb Extracts in the Treatment of Chronic Idiopathic Pain: A Methodology and Case Study

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Few effective biomedical treatment options exist for chronic pain of unknown origin. Treatment is usually palliative, with opioid and non‑opioid analgesic drugs frequently prescribed. While these drugs may provide some relief, they usually require continuous use, they rarely lead to long‑term improvement, and they often have negative side effects. Consequently, increasing numbers of these patients are turning to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In the United States, TCM is known mainly for acupuncture, but another TCM modality, Chinese herbal medicine, is an effective and comprehensive system deserving of more attention. Customised Chinese herbal formulas usually consist of several herbs, chosen via TCM’s sophisticated model of therapeutic synergy, to address each individual’s underlying aberrant physiological mechanisms as well as their presenting symptoms. In recent decades, convenience issues such as preparation time, affordability and portability have effected a shift away from the primary traditional method of administration – decoction – toward powders, pills, and concentrates. This case study details the treatment of a 56‑year‑old female with widespread, chronic, idiopathic pain using only Chinese herbs in powdered form. Though she reported no benefit from treatment with acupuncture, pharmaceutical drugs or massage, she claimed a dramatic improvement with herbs. Her herbal treatment fit her limited budget, and was free of any side effects, allowing her to work and exercise. It is reasonable to conclude that innumerable others struggling with chronic idiopathic pain might benefit similarly from Chinese herbs, though this clearly warrants further investigation.

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Author Peter Borten
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