What is Hanyak? Korean herbal and folk medicine

“Hanyak” is a type of traditional Korean medicine that uses herbal and herbal remedies to treat illnesses. It features influences from traditional Chinese medicine. A person can use it alongside contemporary Western treatments, making it a type of complementary medicine, or as a standalone form of healing.

Only is a component of Han bang, which is the broader umbrella of traditional Korean medicine that incorporates acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, and herbal remedies. It focuses on balancing the energies of the body and the elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood.

People can use Han bang and its components, including hanyak, to manage and treat common symptoms such as stomach pain. They can also use it to cure culture-bound syndromes such as “hwa-byung,” a condition that occurs when a person suppresses and internalizes their anger.

Read on to learn more about hanyak, including benefits, uses, and risks.

Korean traditional medicine put the accent on balancing um, which is similar to yin, and yang — the energies of the body. It also aims to balance the substances in the body and the harmony of the body with the world. For example, some Korean practitioners believe that illness stems from the inability to meet a person’s spiritual needs.

Hanyak falls under the broader umbrella of Han bang, which is traditional Korean medicine. Other elements of traditional Korean medicine include:

  • ch’im, which is acupuncture
  • d’um, which is moxibustion, the process of heating a stick on or near the skin
  • buwang, which is cupping, a process of applying glass cups to the skin, creating suction

An important benefit of Hanyak is that it honors a person’s culture and heritage. Colonial powers have long attempted to destroy the practice of traditional Korean medicine. Its use therefore repels these forces. Historically, traditional Korean medicine has also ensured access to care for underprivileged people living in underprivileged communities or rural areas in Korea.

Western medical practitioners may be able to work alongside traditional Korean practitioners. Incorporating elements of hanyak may also expand treatment and care options for cultural syndromes such as hwa-byung.

Researchers have also tested various traditional Korean herbal remedies and found that some can help relieve various symptoms. For instance, a 2015 study showed that the decoction of Samsoeum plants could disrupt the process of adipogenesis in a Petri dish. Adipogenesis is the process by which the body makes fat and plays a role in obesity.

Animal studies also suggest this Bombyx fruitanother herb, can relieve asthma symptoms.

Similarly, a number of Korean herbs, such as chrysanthemum, ginkgo biloba, and ginseng root, are popular anti-inflammatory remedies. Emerging evidence suggests that at least some of these herbs may provide measurable benefits. For instance, a 2019 study of Ginkgo on human cells in a Petri dish found that it could help inhibit certain types of inflammation.

However, it can take a long time for science to test traditional medicine. And not all of the benefits of these therapies, such as respect for culture or a person’s subjective experience, are measurable using traditional scientific processes.

Therefore, scientists have not conclusively proven that hanyak works or that it can cure diseases. This is similar to the science of studying other herbal remedies. Further research needs to test hanyak on humans rather than animals or a Petri dish, and scientists need to compare it to placebos or other treatments.

Practitioners use the hanyak to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • common symptoms such as stomach pain and headache
  • chronic diseases such as arthritis
  • serious illnesses like cancer and infections
  • culture-bound syndromes that mainstream Western medicine does not usually address or name

A person can use Hanyak as a form of complementary medicine along with other remedies, such as acupuncture, and standard treatments, such as antibiotics. Indeed, some American medical clinics urge physicians to recognize the role of hanyak when providing care to Korean patients.

Hanyak has historically incorporated plants native to Korea. This includes:

  • mushrooms and mushrooms, such as porie
  • herbs such as pinelliae
  • roots of plants such as ginseng
  • flowers and shrubs such as ephedra and chrysanthemum

A person can take a single herb or plant or use them as part of a decoction containing many ingredients. In most cases, they can use the herb orally, often as part of a tea.

There are a number of research studies on the healing properties of herbal remedies. However, larger standardized trials are needed to incorporate them into the traditional standard of care.

For this reason, a key risk of Hanyak is that it may not work to manage or treat symptoms. People who substitute proven treatments with hanyak methods may delay care or worsen symptoms.

Some other hanyak risks include:

  • Security: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbal remedies, which may not be safe for everyone. Some can also cause harmful side effects.
  • Drugs interactions : All medications, including natural and alternative remedies, can interact with each other. Since hanyak is not a scientifically validated treatment, it has not been extensively tested for harmful interactions with other medications. Therefore, people taking other medicines should seek medical advice.
  • Dosage: Because the FDA does not regulate hanyak, there is no standard dosage or potency. Getting the correct dosage can be difficult and a person may experience side effects or even a dangerous overdose.

Hanyak has a long history in Korean culture. He promoted access to medical care for disadvantaged populations and helped oppressed groups to repel colonialism. Many Koreans continue to use it, either to manage day-to-day symptoms or as an adjunct to standard Western interventions.

People who wish to use Hanyak should consult a qualified and experienced practitioner. As with all herbal and alternative remedies, a person should speak to a doctor about any medication they intend to take. A doctor who knows Hanyak or who works with a traditional Korean herbalist may be the most helpful source of information.


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