Classic Formulas

Arlo, Another Farm Herbal Success!

Yesterday the vet arrived to euthanize Arlo.  He had been suffering for almost three days with urinary calculi blocking his ability to pee.  He had been in a lot of pain, was heaving and groaning.  From the start of his illness, we were told that his prognosis was really bad.  It turns out that wethers, castrated male ruminants, easily have this issue.  The vet said she sees at least two cases a month in her practice and that she could count on one hand the number that had survived.  The western medical treatment is ammonium chloride, which is meant to break down the stones.  It is rarely effective.

We love Arlo.  We also have his cousins, Mary Agnes and Whisper.  They are all Gotland sheep with spectacular silver-grey wool.  I’ve learned to spin and just finished my first knitted item with the yarn. Working with the fiber from these sheep has added to my appreciation of them.

Anyway, how could I not at least TRY giving him herbs?  I find it so challenging with animals given their reluctance to talk.  With so little to go on, what could I do?  I was encouraged by my recent success with my horse Jasper, who is still […]

By |2021-03-06T07:25:45-08:00March 6th, 2021|Classic Formulas|0 Comments

Great Turning

Below is an excerpt from the syllabus for the White Pine 2021 Graduate Mentorship Program. This excerpt explains the meaning of what I call Great Turning and its application for practitioners of Traditional East Asian Medicine:

The Graduate Mentorship Program has been running since 2003.  This upcoming course, starting this March, 2021, is the 9th time I have taught it. Since the start, my understanding has deepened through experience, both in the clinic, through study, with students, and in life. In this rendition of the program, not only have the principles become crystalized and embodied for me, but I also feel that my articulation of them has evolved.  Being a teacher is not only about knowing one’s material: unless there is a clear articulation that meets the student in a way that clarifies and open’s receptivity, the material cannot find a home within the student.  While teaching, I always have the question, “Am I making sense to you?” I want you to have a sense of “aha!” and “Yes! I SEE!” I want you to have the experience of the murky confusion coming clear. I’ve learned that this happens when the foundational principles are sound.  Only then does the material find its natural place in your mind and heart.  The Graduate Mentorship Program’s foundational […]

Treatment of Mutes: Children and Horses

In Chinese medicine, treating young children is sometimes referred to as the treatment of mutes.  This points to the fact that young children are unable to communicate their experience with words.  Practitioners have to rely on signs, most often with the help of the parents.  Does the child throw off their blankets at night or do they want more covers?  Are they clingy or resistant to being held?  Is their cry loud or whimpery?  Treating animals is much the same.  Though, as a practitioner, I try to hone my observation skills, like most practitioners, I also rely on the patient’s verbal articulation of their experience.  Treating beings who cannot express this way can be quite difficult.  This is why my confidence in treating animals is shaky.

A recent case in point:  My horse Jasper has had a chronic cough.  It was never a bad cough but enough that I noticed.  Over time I have tried moistening his hay in case it was caused by dust and I’ve tried several herbal formulas.  Admittedly, the formulas I chose were not well thought out.  It was more of a “maybe I’ll try this” approach.  I think this approach is common for practitioners when we don’t have a lot of confidence and part of the reason for […]

By |2021-01-25T06:12:01-08:00January 25th, 2021|Classic Formulas, Yu Guo-Jun|0 Comments

Running Piglet and Depression


sleeping Piglets Sleeping Piglets

Hi Friends,

I am busy preparing an Ebook for the White Pine Circle‘s February resources.  Our theme is Ge Gen and so I am translating material on classical formulas that include Ge Gen.  One such lesser known formula is Ben Tun Tang (Running Piglet Decoction).  Sometimes I run across a case that rivets my attention and I am sharing one of these today.  I love that the doctor, Dr. Xióng Jìbǎi 熊继柏 is writing in a narrative style and that he is clearly using this case to teach us.  I found this case in The Path of Clinical Experience with Classical Formulas for Modern Distinguished Physicians《当代经方名家临床之路》.   I also love how the pharmacy was missing a key herb,  Li Gen Bai Pi, which is the peel of the plum tree root, so he went out into the valley and dug some up himself!  Enjoy the case!

The patient, Ms. Cheng, was age 46 and was a peasant.  At the start of her illness she had dizzy spells with restlessness and palpitations.  She shut herself in a room and gradually would not get out of bed.  She had photophobia so she kept the room […]

Reflective Learning Pathways

When the White Pine Circle launches on New Year’s Day, it will be like the starting up of an endless, ever-changing carousel of beautiful, useful, relevant-to-your-practice resources.  Every month new resources will be posted including video teaching, live roundtable discussions, ebooks, tea-time talks, translations, and more.  We are an open collective of nerdy colleagues, who love Traditional East Asian Medicine and can’t help ourselves but share what we love.

However, the REALLY cool thing the White Pine Circle is offering is TheReflective Learning Pathways.  These pathways are available to members (free!) as a way to progress through resources in a more structured way so that they become like a course.  For now, we have the following five pathways members can follow: Classical Formulas, Chinese Herbs, Gynecology, Obstetrics, and Going Deep with Zhang Zhongjing’s Lines.  More to come. Following a pathway is a way to engage in our resources that gives the practitioner structure and support as they move through the resources.  AND, at the completion of a pathway, the practitioner receives a certificate, a prestigious badge to show on your profile for referrals, support from a mentor, and a wonderful gift.  All of this is free with membership.

An important component of the learning pathways is the reflective part of them.  As the participant reads […]

White Pine Graduate Mentorship Program: Early Bird Rate Ending

Hello friends,

I’m writing this post to give you a heads-up that the early bird rate for the White Pine Graduate Mentorship Program closes tomorrow at midnight.

For more information about the program and to register please click here.

Please don’t hesitate to write to me with any questions you have.

Thank you,


By |2020-11-29T05:17:19-08:00November 29th, 2020|Classic Formulas, Kampo, Our Courses, Uncategorized|0 Comments

What does 經 mean?

In the previous two posts, we discovered that these Six Thing-a-ma-jigs were first named as Jīng, 經 by Qí Bó in NèijīngSùwèn, chapter 6.  Therefore, the next step in understanding what these Six Things are is to explore the meaning of 經.

To decide what any character “means”, one must look at the way it is used in different contexts and discover the consistent thread of meaning between these uses.  It is virtually impossible to accurately translate 經 as one word, though we often must.  For the student/practitioner, a bit of understanding of these complex meanings may expand our relationship to our medicine.

Jīng 經 is made up of the thread radical on the left and the image of water streaming below the surface on the right.  A possible definition of 經 is “an underlying structure or constant flow of threads or information that is invisible or enigmatic[1], giving rise to rise to and influencing visible phenomenon.

This broad definition covers the bases I think.  Let’s check. […]

These Six Things are Circular Motions

In the previous post, we looked at how the Three Yīn and Three Yáng are described as great movements.  Like Russian Matryoshka dolls, we saw that these Six thing-a-ma-jigs are circular images within circular images.

Let’s now contemplate this a bit further.  I hope you are enjoying yourself as much as I am!

In Sùwèn Chapter 6, Treatise on the separation and unity of the Three Yang, after describing the placement of the Six in heaven and earth as well as in our bodies, Qi Bo states “Hence, this is the separation and unity of the Three Yang.”  The three Yáng are one Yang.  This is the unity. We divide them into three, Tàiyáng, Yángmíng, and Shàoyáng. This is the separation.  He then goes on to say that Tàiyáng opens, Yángmíng and Shàoyáng pivots.”  This description is followed by, “These three Jīng 經,  they must not lose each other.  They come together in a circular fashion, instead of floating away.  This is named the One Yáng.”

He is saying that we divide them into three but they are actually one circle.  What are these three divisions?  In this chapter, he tells us they are actions.  They are the actions of opening, closing, and pivoting.  These are movements he is talking about.  If we imagine a […]

What are These Six Things?

Translation of Chinese into English must be a conversation, not a conclusion.  This is something I learned from my friend Sabine Wilms.  Her book, Humming with Elephants, is a 340-page book on a single, short chapter five of the Huángdì Nèijīng which models this translation-as-conversation.  In this text, she discusses her word choices and the context of her word choices.  She also translates historic commentary on the lines in the chapter.  In this way, the text invites the reader into the contemplation of the text rather than just telling us what it means.  I love this!  A translation is a conversation between readers past and present and the text itself.

In this spirit, soon, Sabine and I will be offering a short, four-part class on Chapter 1 of the Huángdì Nèijīng Sùwèn. This class will be a live discussion between the two of us as well as with participants as a way to, not just translate the chapter, but to bring it alive for practitioners.  If all goes well, we will continue on in the text together.  This way, the text is illuminated through a conversation between the two of us and the text as well as between all of us and the text.  Stay tuned!

It is in the spirit of this conversation I […]

This Year, Rothenburg!

Getting to Rothenburg is not easy.  The flight is bound to have at least one stop and then there are several trains to take and finally a taxi from the train station.  I was there teaching two years ago and I was pooped by the time I arrived.  And yet, it is so worth it!  The city itself is spectacular and it is surrounded by farms and forests full of hiking trails.  The TCM Kongress is always held in May which is an exquisite time to be there. The Kongress itself is, I think, the largest and most prestigious in the world with esteemed speakers from all over the world.  It is well worth the long trip.

This year, I was invited to teach again and had it on my calendar.  Alas, the live Kongress cannot happen this year.  This is sad as so much of the Kongress is about meeting old friends in stone cafe’s and making new ones.  However, for those who don’t like to or can’t travel that far, paying for flights, hotels, and meals, it is an incredible opportunity.  Rothenburg will be done all through live streaming and video.  In another way, this is better in that you can watch and attend classes that in real-time overlap, which is […]

By |2020-05-13T09:20:47-07:00May 13th, 2020|Classic Formulas, Our Courses|0 Comments
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