How do I encourage my herbologist to use the Inner Ecology™ prescription service?

We invite you to share our website with them and to encourage them to call or email us with any questions they may have.  It would be our pleasure to help them provide you with high-quality herbal medicinals to facilitate your healing.

What does it mean for a clinical herbologist to be NCCAOM board-certified? Why do you uphold this standard when determining eligibility for practitioners who apply to use your services?

We feel strongly that you deserve the best care possible. To this end, we supply only those practitioners with the demonstrated education and skill to prescribe safely. This prevents the misuse of the medicine, and protects you as patients as well as the field of East Asian Medicine as a whole.

In the state of Illinois a professional license is not required for the practice of herbology.  This means that NCCAOM certification is currently the very highest standard to ensure that a practitioner has the necessary skill to prescribe these medicinals safely and effectively. The years of rigorous training required of a NCCAOM-certified herbologist stands in stark contrast to that of other healthcare practitioners and lay persons such as chiropractors, registered nurses, or even medical doctors who are currently allowed to legally recommend herbal treatment within the state.

The practice of EAM clinical herbology necessitates an advanced understanding of differential diagnosis and formula design as well as extensive clinical application that requires, at minimum, a comprehensive graduate education of four academic years at a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).  Through their medical training, EAM students master indications, contraindications, and constituent properties for hundreds of medicinals, learn how to diagnose a patient, build a repository of knowledge regarding hundreds of traditional formula, and develop skills for safe and effective modification of ingredients and dosage.  The biomedical sciences, including pharmacology and nutrition, are integrated into these curricula so that graduates can apply their knowledge safely and in collaboration with other healthcare providers.

In addition to graduating from an accredited program, a Diplomate must demonstrate competency by passing the NCCAOM certification examinations in the Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Chinese Herbology, and Biomedicine.  The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) was established in 1982 as a nonprofit with the aim of “establishing, assessing, and promoting recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public.”

What are the differences between the various types of herbal delivery systems?

The main methods we use for herbal delivery in East Asian Medical herbology include: 1) raw herbs for decoction and powdered raw herbs, 2) granular herbs, 3) capsules and tea pills.

Of these, decocted and powdered raw medicinals are the most potent, efficient, and time-tested method.  They represent the choice method of master herbalists the whole globe over.  As a patient, you will want to choose a skilled herbalist who is able to individualize your prescription by carefully selecting your formula’s constituents and dosages according to empirical knowledge gathered over the centuries.  Inner Ecology carries well over three hundred medicinals of plant, animal and mineral origin in order to provide greater accessibility and to inspire more frequent usage of this traditional method.

Western herbalism and our modern-day supplement culture, much akin to pharmaceutical style treatment, tend to glorify the use of isolated single herbs.  By contrast, East Asian Medical (EAM) herbal practice rarely prescribes single herbal use, and instead involves the attentive crafting of multi-ingredient formulae to match highly specified diagnoses and harmonize your individual disregulation.  The various ingredients in a given formula interact in complex ways to create an aromatic symphony that helps prevent unwanted side effects and facilitate treatment.

With about fifty years of usage behind them in Taiwan, Japan and China, granular medicinals are a newer delivery method than raw decoction.  Granules aims to mimic the results of decoction as closely as possible, standardize delivery and enhance convenience.  The concentrated powder, which is prevented from clumping by a small amount of excipient, emerges from a raw herb extraction process.  As a patient, you will simply dissolve the concentrated powder into hot water at the dosage recommended by your practitioner.   Because we carry only single granular herbs (as opposed to pre-mixed formulae), your herbologist can customize your granular prescription to nearly the same level as they can do with raw herbs.  Granules tend to have slower results than raw decoction, but are far superior in potency and modifiability to capsules or tea pills.  If you can imagine the difference between a cup of instant coffee and a cup of fresh-ground coffee, you’ll instantly grasp the difference between granular and raw delivery methods.

The patent preparations in the form of capsules or tea pills often sold in local apothecaries or groceries cannot begin to compare with the effectiveness of the decocted or granular delivery methods.  While they are indeed convenient, may appear at first glance to be less expensive, and require far less sophisticated diagnostic skill on the part of the practitioner, they cannot be modified for your individual needs as a patient, lack potency, are most useful for general symptomatic relief, and are not suitable for complicated cases or constitutional healing.  Because of these factors, we choose not to carry them.