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Cleveland Clinic Among First In U S To Open Hospital-based Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic

Cleveland Clinic Among First In U.S. To Open Hospital-based Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blending Traditional Approach with Modern Medicine Provides Supplemental Option for Patients’ Care.

Cleveland Clinic has opened a Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic, one of the first hospital-based herbal clinics in the U.S., to round out its integrative medicine services and provide supplementary options for patients seeking a holistic, natural approach to their care.

“Today’s patients are looking for a medical model that addresses both prevention and treatment of chronic disease using natural approaches in combination with Western medicine,” said Melissa Young, M.D., internist and integrative medicine specialist at the Tanya I. Edwards, M.D. Center for Integrative Medicine, part of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute. 

Changes to Ohio laws in 2012 opened the door for licensed Chinese herbal therapists to legally prescribe custom herb blends and traditional formulas within a clinical practice.  The clinical expertise of the herbalist coupled with attentive vigilance from a practicing physician decreases the risk of drug-herb interactions, similar to drug-drug interactions patients experience while taking multiple prescription drugs.

 The Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic offers this new avenue for patients interested in a holistic approach to their care in a safe and effective manner.

“There is a general assumption that ‘natural’ means ‘safe,’” said Jamie Starkey, LAc, lead acupuncturist.  “That’s not always the case.  As both medical professionals and specialists in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s our responsibility to address our patients’ needs, but also prescribe safe, high quality herbs that will be effective and beneficial to their health.”

Prior to state law changes, patients interested in Chinese herbal therapy had to seek out alternative options to fill prescription blends which made them vulnerable to negative side effects.

Requiring physician referrals for Chinese herbal therapy encourages a collaborative effort between the patient’s doctor and herbalist and increases the likelihood of a positive patient experience while using herbs.

While herbal treatment has been used for centuries in China to treat acute and chronic conditions, it has not been widely used in modern practice despite proven benefits.  The unique mix of ancient Eastern therapies and present-day medicine is a progressive approach to care.

At the Chinese Herbal Therapy Clinic, herbalists will prescribe blends based on research which has shown that herbs may be used to help manage diabetes, decrease cold/flu symptoms, manage chronic pain, increase energy, improve breathing, digestion, sleep, and menopausal symptoms, and help address menstrual cycles if infertility is an issue.

Herbal therapy is best suited for patients who present multiple, complex symptoms, have exhausted other medical treatment options, need additional therapy to counteract prescribed medications, or are overall interested in integrative preventive medicine. 

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S.News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. More than 3,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic health system includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland, eight community hospitals, more than 75 Northern Ohio outpatient locations, including 16 full-service Family Health Centers, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and, currently under construction, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2012, there were 5.1 million outpatient visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 157,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 130 countries. Visit us at  Follow us at

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