Individual Herbs

Home/Posts/Individual Herbs

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 […]

Upcoming Wonderfulness

Oh, this past year!  Need I say more?

And now, what a special time, with the light turning toward the new and spectacular conjunctions.  I hope many of you had the chance to see the two huge planets aligned!

I look back at this past year as one of profound blessing as I’ve connected with so many in new and inspiring ways.  Thank you to all of my students, colleagues, friends, animals, and family for lighting up my heart in so many ways.  Now I turn to the future with tremendous excitement for what has been gestating and what is soon to be born!

On January 1, the White Pine Circle will launch.  This has been a beautifully collaborative effort on behalf of all of us who love and work with traditional East Asian medicine.  Please sign up to be notified of the launch here.  It’s only a week away!

Until then, I invite you all to a free talk by Sally Rappaport where she will delve into a most common herbal formula, Gui Zhi Tang.  I am sure you will be given a new appreciation of this formula!  Not only is it useful for chronic and acute conditions, but it is also the foundation for other important herbal formulas.  You can register for this talk here. […]

Ma Huang and Gui Zhi in the time of Covid

I am now introducing Sally Rappaport’s Talk: which will be on Monday, April 6 at 12 noon, EST.  As a follow-up to my lecture from last Friday, April 3, White Pine Institute and the Shen Nong Society, with the generous help of Healthy Seminars, are offering a series of classes on the formulas mentioned in the original lecture. This free series is taught by a group of classical herbalists who are all approaching the crisis with similar foundational principles as discussed in the lecture.  These talks are free and are designed to help Chinese herbal practitioners hone their skills in working with the ill patients that come to you.  This is the point of view and methods we are using and having great results with.  Our group is in the process of gathering our clinical results.  We will keep you posted!

Sally will be giving a foundational talk on Ma Huang Tang and Gui Zhi Tang, As You’ve Never Heard Before.  Though these particular formulas will not be appropriate for most presentations of Covid-19, understanding them as Sally is teaching them, is key to understanding the logic behind other very key formulas.  I encourage all practitioners who are facing patients with coronavirus to register for this free lecture.  

There is […]

Classical Chinese Herbal Principles in Action in Response to Covid-19: Free Talk

Good Morning!

Today, at 12:30 EST (9:30 am PST) I’ll be giving a free, online talk called Classical Chinese Herbal Principles in Action in Response to Covid-19.  You can register free at this link:

This lecture discusses the foundational principles a group of us are grounding ourselves in as we work with patients with the coronavirus.  The treatments that follow from these principles are proving to be very helpful for those who are quite ill.  This talk will be followed by a series of talks that go into the specifics about the formulas we are using, when and why.

After the talk, the recording will be available for 48 hours.

I hope you can make it!


Gan Mai Da Zao Tang in Pediatrics

Gan Cao is said to “moderate acuteness.”  In the last post on using Gan Cao to treat mushroom poisoning, Gan Cao was used to treat an acute illness.  However, This is not quite what this idea of moderating acuteness means.  The Chinese character for this “acuteness” is an awkward one to translate. Obviously it is awkward because “acuteness” is such a strange word, turning and adjective into a noun!   Jí, 急, can be translated as acute but it can also be translated as urgency or anxious.  When speaking of abdominal diagnosis, a 急 finding means that you are finding tension and hypertonicity in the abdominal muscles.  With this in mind, we can say that Gan Cao relaxes tension, whether emotional or physical.  We see it used in formulas to do just this, such as in Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang or Xiao Jian Zhong Tang.   Then there is the wonderful formula Gan Mai Da Zao Tang.  This formula is made up of just three herbs:  Gan Cao, Da Zao and Xiao Mai.  Often the Gan Cao is […]

Mushroom Poisoning Case and Teensy Weensy Formulas

I’ve posted a lot about Teeny Tiny formulas.  These are formulas that are made up of two herbs such as Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang or Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang.  I love teeny tiny formulas because, they are always building blocks for other formulas. For example, Gua Lou Mu Li Tang is a teeny tiny formula in its own right but it is also in Chai Hu Gui Zhi Gan Jiang Tang.  When you understand them, you can see why it is important that Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang is found in Xiao Jian Zhong Tang.  Knowing about Gua Lou Mu Li Tang or  Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang tells you something about why it is in these larger formulas.  It informs your understanding of the larger formulas.

There are Teeny Tiny formulas and THEN there are the Teensy Weensy formulas.  These are formulas that maybe should not even be considered formulas since they are made up of just one herb.  There are a bunch of examples of this […]

By |2020-02-26T06:43:04-08:00February 26th, 2020|Classic Formulas, Individual Herbs|0 Comments

Can Chai Hu Excessively Raise the Qi?

When I first learned about Chai Hu, I learned that, among other functions, it serves to “raise the Yang Qi.”  In combination with Huang Qi, it is used for this purpose in Li Dong-Yuan’s Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang.  Because this function has been attributed to Chai Hu, I learned that I must be very cautious using it.  I could over raise the Qi.  My guess is that other practitioners are familiar with this caution as well.  I was under the impression that I could, in using Chai Hu, raise the pressure in a person’s upper body by sending the Yang up.  Indeed, the Formulas and Strategies cautions us to avoid using Chai Hu in cases in which the liver Yang is rising pathologically.  Many practitioners take this to the extreme of avoiding Chai Hu for any case of headache or hypertension.  Zhang Xi-Chun cautions us in this respect as follows:

“For raising the liver, Chai Hu is the most effective.  However when there is a pattern of liver not rising and stomach not descending, Ma Ya should be used instead of Chai Hu.  This is because, Chai Hu not only raises the liver, it also can excessively raise the stomach Qi. On the other hand, Mai Ya can not only raise […]

Bai Zi Ren 白子仁

How do we get to know herbs?  Zhang Jing-Yue says

“There are many medicinals, each with their own respective natures. Because the countless indications and contraindications are diverse, it is difficult to know them all. If he who uses the medicinals does not grasp the essence, it is inevitable that he will make many mistakes. If he only considers the which governs, or only considers the secondary actions; if he only cares about ‘what benefits this but does not benefit that’, then his ignorance about what is true and the rigidity in his attempts to lasso the wild horse will result in a lack of effectiveness.”

What does it mean to “grasp the essence” of an herb?  Zhang goes on to say:

“There is only one truth for the use of herbs, and that is the mastery over their qi and taste, along with the knowledge of their yin and yang. This way, even though there are many of them, one will be able to grasp their essence.”

We often learn herbs simply in relation to their listed functions.  “What does this herb DO” is the place […]

Teeny Tiny: Chi Xiao Dou Dang Gui San

It’s been a while since we’ve had a teeny tiny formula post. I am writing today about a favorite of mine, one that really packs some power: Chi Xiao Dou Dang Gui San.

This formula is written about in two places in the Jin Gui Yao Lue.

Firstly it is in Chapter 3 on Pulses, Patterns and Treatment of Bai He (Lilly) Disease, Hu Huo Disease and Yin Yang Toxin Disease. Line thirteen says:

“The patient has rapid pulses, no fever, slight vexation, reticent but with a desire to lay down, and sweating. Three or four days after the initial onset, the eyes are red as those of a turtle dove. After seven or eight days, the four corners of the eyes turn dark. If the patient is able to eat, this indicates that pus has developed. Chi Xiao Dou Dang Gui San is indicated.”

Secondly, it is in chapter 16: Pulses, Patterns and Treatment of Fright palpitations, Purgation of Blood, Fullness in the Chest and Static Blood where line 16 says:

“With bleeding in the bowel, first there is bleeding followed by defecation. This is called proximal bleeding. Chi Xiao Dou Dang Gui San is indicated.”

Ah, the Jin Gui text… can be difficult to determine how […]

E Zhu and San Leng

th-3I’m so glad to have the website launched so I can get back to the business of talking about Chinese medicine in this blog!  

About six years ago, I wrote a blog post about E Zhu and San Leng.  Over time, I’ve only come to appreciate these herbs more and more.  Recently I treated a woman who had a history of severe dysmenorrhea since menarche.  This was the kind of painful menstruation that leaves a woman unable to function.  In cases of severe dysmenorrhea, I always ask if there are any meat-like or tissue-like clots in the menstruate.  I also ask if there is relief of pain upon discharging one of these clots.  In her case the answer was yes to both of these questions.  This was a clear case of membranous dysmenorrhea.  She did not have any craving for warmth or aversion to cold related to her menstruation. Typically she would start to have pain and water retention starting a week and a half before her menstruation.   2 weeks before the start of her menstruation I gave her a formula to vitalize the blood, disolve masses and stop pain.  The formula included E Zhu and San Leng as well as Xu Duan […]

By |2018-06-26T16:31:05-07:00November 24th, 2017|Gynecology, Individual Herbs, Our Courses|0 Comments
Go to Top