Chinese herbs have been used for thousands of years in eastern medicine, and they're picking up speed here in the west. Often they're used along with western medicine. One woman says a combination of the two relieved her severe leg pain
42-year-old Wendy Small is an active mother of 3 who suddenly found herself plagued by lightheadedness, weakness and pain.
"My husband had to massage my legs at night just so I could fall asleep because I was in pain," she says.
Wendy had mono just a year before her symptoms started. Doctors believe the Epstein - Barr Virus, which causes mono, is to blame, but what she has now is difficult to treat and after doyens of tests and question marks, frustration set in.
Along with her regular doctor's appointments,Wendy also tried a more natural approach. Dr. Melissa Young blends eastern and western medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
"Those patients who either aren't getting benefits from their purely conventional care, or patients who have multiple symptoms, multiple diagnoses, Chinese medicine looks at those patients differently and is able to create a treatment plan that is very effective for them," Dr. Young explains.
She says Chinese herbs can be safely used along with traditional medicine. They tend to be more gentle on the body and are individualized to each person. Wendy's plan calls for acupuncture, dietary supplements and a blend of herbs to target digestion, fatigue and circulation.
Wendy says, "after a week of being on a weak dose of herbs, the leg pain I had at night was completely gone. That was a lot faster than even she had thought would happen so I think I'm a rare case as far as a week, but I was just blown away."
"This is actually, I think, integrative medicine at its best," Dr. Young says. "It's complementing eastern philosophies, western medicine, dietary therapies, manual medicine to the best of the patient, of what their individual needs are."
Wendy is doing more now than she has ever done before and is relieved to be feeling better.
"I think that we have great traditional medicine," she says, "and it's needed and there's a need for medications but there is also a place where you can find healing in other ways."
If you're thinking about trying Chinese medicine, Dr. Young says it's important to seek out a board certified Chinese herbalist and be under the care of a physician.