Funding Success Stories (Hammersmith): Community Chinese Herbal Medicine Project

Innovation Fund Feedback from our friend Sharon, the project manager.

Sharon was awarded the Innovation Fund to make Chinese herbal medicine accessible to those less fortunate and who have limited access to these service due to their social circumstances.

Sharon informed me that came up with idea because she is currently studying for an MSc in traditional Chinese herbal medicine and it was a requirement that she had at least 30 case studies to complete over the period of 2 years.

Some of the service users she was treating at St mungo’s and Turning point had developed an interest when she informed them but none could afford it, so I thought of an idea to set up a community project providing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbs for free for people who could not otherwise afford to have the opportunity to try herbs.

Sharon said that this was also an opportunity for people to participate in their own recovery treatments and improve their health and wellbeing. The process was as follows:

  • Service users were either seen in person prior to lock down and were consulted through Zoom, Skype & telephone or email for basic information such as signs and symptoms.
  • Diagnosis was made through using a TCM approach and a prescription was written by Sharon taking into account all current medications the person may have been taking at the time.
  • Their case was discussed during supervision which took place on Tuesday mornings between 9.30am & 12.30pm.
  • The supervising lecturer (with over 20 years’ experience in treating patients using Chinese herbs and has carried out extensive research into herbs and has a PHD in TCM herbal medicine, would review her prescription, look out for interactions with medication advise and suggest changes.
  • The prescription would then be authorised and sent off to the herbal dispensary where the herbs would be posted directly to the patient for a period of 2 weeks prescription.
  • Prior to the ending of the 2 week prescription the patient would have an update/review meeting with Sharon. If they wanted to continue the treatments and their case would be discussed in supervision regarding changes or any reactions etc.
  • Once authorised a 2nd prescription would be sent out for a further 2 weeks and this would go on until Sharon with the support of my supervisor will assess whether the patient has achieved the outcome they desired then the service will end.

Sharon said “I found many of the patients if not all benefitted from the treatments and really enjoyed them. I also found that TCM herbs as well as prescribed medications and some kind of cognitive therapy support along with other practices such as qi gong, meditation and yoga are more effective in treating anxiety and depression.”

 Feedback from participants including the following:

“I found the herbs easy to take so I did not miss a day. They were delivered prompt. I noticed that my sleep improved. I was more calm and alert during the day. I had no I’ll effects such as stomach troubles. If I was able to, I would have continued taking that prescription as it worked for me. I also found Sharon very professional which made it easier to engage with either herb”. LB

“I found the herbal tea to be very affective in calming my nerves. After two weeks I felt the effects as it helped to improve my digestion and had beneficial effects on my constipation, which improved considerably after twelve weeks. I felt that there was an overall improvement on my feelings of wellbeing and if I could afford to continue treatment I would. Sharon was very supportive throughout the course and was able to prescribe the best treatment based on the information I gave her both oral and photographic. I think that she did really well considering we had to do everything by phone”. KZ

Sharon said “I will continue to peruse venue locations to continue the project post lock down and hope to organise group projects (post lock down) where the service users feel comfortable can attend regularly – weekly to receive their treatments.”

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