Hi, I tend to have excess heat and liver/gallbladder problems.
Most of my illnesses are the manifestation of problems with my
liver/gallbladder channel. I also have issues with regularity,
and colon cancer runs in my family, so I have been taking herbs
like milk thistle for cleansing, detox and regularity. This seems
to help. My question is, is milk thistle a warming herb and if
so then is it potentially bad for me to increase yang - which
is where I tend to reside already?
Thank you for your help.
Great question, and difficult to answer. Since milk thistle is
not a Chinese herb, we have to guess what its Chinese medical
properties are. Until we do that, we can't use Chinese medicine's
insightful theories of diagnosis and treatment. If it is anti-inflammatory,
we can guess that it's not warm, but that's still a guess.
Putting Western Herbs into Chinese Medical Terms
Peter Holmes has done some work on classifying Western herbs
in Chinese medical terms (see his 'The Energetics of Western Herbs.').
Holmes writes that milk thistle is warm, dry, pungent, and bitter.
To support the warming, damp-draining function he attributes to
it, he cites its effect on edema, phlegm, and cold limbs. But
since this is a new effort, I doubt most Chinese herbalists would
feel that we have definite and complete answers about what individual
Western herbs do in Chinese medical terms.
Unfortunately, many of the resources on the internet focus only
on the western research- it is equally difficult to translate
between the three worlds of
1. Chinese herbal properties and functions,
2. Western biomedical terms, and
3. Western herbal terms
There is only one reality, but these are three distinct ways
to look at it. And though there may be one-to-one correlations
in some cases, they do not appear to be the rule. That means some
Chinese herbal properties may reflect more than one western herbal
property or function, and more than one western biomedical effect.
So, See a Chinese Herbal Practitioner (aka Acupuncturist)
Find one here. Sorry I can't
be more helpful here, but until we map out and verify the relationships
between these three fields, we won't be able to say for sure.
That, plus the clear advantages of Chinese herbal medicine's
holistic diagnoses which allow for personalized herbal combinations,
are the main reasons I almost always advise people go see a Chinese
herbal practitioner. You can get most of your health needs met
in one stop without worrying about interactions between western
and Chinese herbs, and between herbs and drugs. In fact, formulas
are less likely to interact with drugs than single herbs are.
All the best!