Posted on January 18, 2008 by Yael
I must be honest with you: if this is the question, acupuncture vs. herbs- acupuncture will be the winner any day.
I don’t mean to put down herbs, I really don’t, I just don’t like them very much. As I see their benefits and think that they are very powerful, studying them is almost like a punishment, and let’s face it- it’s just not fun!
But acupuncture- now there’s an art! There’s a place to be creative.
Yes, I can hear all those herb-people saying “but you can be very creative with herbs too!”, but it’s just not the same.
OK, ok, I will tell you the tale of my struggle with Chinese herbs, which will explain why I don’t like ‘em, I just don’t.
It all started long ago, on my 2nd year:
I had a very good teacher for Chinese herbs, she was pretty much in love with the herbs and she was- and still is- a very good practitioner. This was the first time I realised that no matter how much time I put into studying the herbs and understanding them- I just don’t get along with them. I struggled very hard, learning them one by one, hanging post-it’s all over my room and apartment (my then room-mate wasn’t very happy about all those yellow notes around the house mind you), making up crazy stories to remember the herbs, trying the Dui Yao way of studying and learning the herbs by pairs…
I really tried many ways, and nothing worked. I actually failed my herbs final and was devastated.
Then I realised that as far as I’m concerned, it’s better to focus on one art than on two.
So I quit the herbs and sticked to acupuncture points- and I blossomed. Honestly? I think I simply fell in love with Chinese Medicine the minute I stopped struggling with the herbs. At that point I realised that CM is really an art.
And the herbs?
They didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother them until my 5th year.
The 5th year was actually dedicated to the herbs.
I started the whole course from the beginning, to give it a fair go, and I went to study with a man who is a walking encyclopedia of Chinese herbs. He’s also an excellent teacher, he really is.
The problem is, that his tests never really check your knowledge in herbs, just how well you pay attention to his instruction on how to get ready for the exam…. you know what I mean?
Anyway, I gave it a very nice shot, sailed through the 1st year, the 2nd year and then came the 3rd year.
On the 3rd year I quit- yet again- at the end of the first semester. In my defence I’ll say I had personal reasons that added to quitting, but I also realised something very important:
I’m simply not a herbs woman.
When I started my clinic, I didn’t feel that I’m missing the herbs.
I never got to the point where I felt that acupuncture is not enough for my patients. I think acupuncture is a powerful tool which reaches the deepest levels and superficials levels with the same needle, and many times- you really need just one needle to make the biggest change. And I’m not going to start writing about the times that all you really need is just one word…
When it comes to acupuncture being an art form- I’m pretty sure that all the herbs lovers will say the same about herbs, and I will not argue. But I do think that the herbs are a bit more limited than acupuncture.
Then again, with the herbs you are able to let your patients be more involved with the treatment- they go home, need to remember to take their formula, and at certain times that is a very important point.
But again, I never felt it was something I felt missing from my practice.
I had the best teachers I could find for Chinese herbs, I gave it my best shot- and it just wasn’t for me.
The point of this post is to make you feel better, if maybe you feel the same as I do, or maybe you feel that acupuncture isn’t for you.
I know many practitioners who built a beautiful, productive clinic and never touched a needle- all based on herbs.
My message- if you find yourself struggling more than enjoying your CM studies, you should stop and see what it is that makes you struggle so hard, and do the best you can to solve it.
I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on this subject.