Important Combination Tonic Formulas

Formulas that combine various tonic herbs to treat major systems of the body – qi, blood, yin and yang – are commonly self-prescribed in China, especially as people pass the age of 40. The formulas address the effects of aging, including fatigue, slowing down of metabolism, aching of joints or muscles, poor tendon flexibility, poor concentration or memory, and loss of hair or skin tone. In addition to applications for aging, one also uses up reserves of qi, blood, yin and yang following childbirth, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or prolonged illness. The formulas are also used to enhance both male and female fertility, and to regulate the menses. The formulas take individual tonic herbs (qi, blood, yin and yang) and combine them, or combine small formulas.

Managing a Patient with Multiple Complaints

A situation common to American herbalist/acupuncturists is the arrival of a new patient reporting multiple complaints. Although a single chief complaint may be written on their intake form, when one gets to interviewing them, there to be a lot of complaints concurrently: digestive problems (discomfort or irregular stool), menstrual problems (irregular, cramps), pain (headache, joint or muscle pain), sleep disturbance, poor focus, emotional stress and fatigue. From the classical zang-fu perspective, where does one begin?

Look into the fate and effects of tattoo pigments in human skin

The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body. We used skin and lymphatic tissues from human corpses to address local biokinetics by means of synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques at both the micro (μ) and nano (ν) scale. Additional advanced mass spectrometry-based methodology enabled to demonstrate simultaneous transport of organic pigments, heavy metals and titanium dioxide from skin to regional lymph nodes. Among these compounds, organic pigments displayed the broadest size range with smallest species preferentially reaching the lymph nodes.

Roshi Ensei Lifts a Heavy Bean Utagawa Kuniyoshi Public domain, courtesy Wiki Commons Images PD-1996

Roshi Ensei Lifts a Heavy Bean Utagawa Kuniyoshi Public domain, courtesy Wiki Commons Images PD-1996

How the nervous system controls tumor growth

From the time it first comes online during development the nervous system begins to exact precise control over many biologic functions. In some cases, too much control. When it does, a little nerve-squelching botox can go a long way towards restoring that nubile glow to a previously pensive countenance. Similarly, an emerging neurobiology of cancer now suggests that many kinds tumors may be the fault of a hyperactive nervous system. If they are, then toning down the offending nerves could become an attractive therapy.

Herbal Monograph for Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Xiao chai hu tang (Minor Bupleurum Decoction) is one of the most commonly used herbal formulas today. Historically, it was used to treat shaoyang syndrome. Today, it is used to successfully treat many disorders including hepatitis, liver fibrosis, liver cancer, jaundice, cholecystitis, cholelithiasis, pancreatitis, nephritis, acute tonsillitis, parotitis, stomatitis and many more.

Treatment of Menopausal Problems with Chinese Medicine

I often hear that menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes are due to Kidney-Yin deficiency: not so! Half of the menopausal women I see have a Pale tongue and suffer from Kidney-Yang deficiency. That is because Kidney-Jing deficiency may manifest with a Yin or Yang deficiency; indeed, many herbs that nourish Jing are in the category of tonics of Kidney-Yang (e.g. Bu Gu Zhi, Yi Zhi Ren, Suo Yang, Jiu Zi, Sha Yuan Ji Li).

By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons  

By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Shen and Hun: Psyche in Chinese Medicine

The longer I practise, the more I think that in clinical practice we can interpret most mental-emotional problems in terms of the "five spirits" as well as of "patterns of disharmony".  The "five spirits", in Chinese called the"Five Shen" [五 神], are the Shen, Hun, Po, Yi, and Zhi residing respectively in the Heart, Liver, Lungs, Spleen and Kidneys.

By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dominicus Johannes Bergsma (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sixty-four Cases of Scapulohumeral Periarthritis Treated by Auricular Plaster Therapy

By auricular plaster therapy with the self-developed Liqi Huoxue Qufeng Zhentong Wan (理气活血祛风镇痛丸 The Pain-Relieving Pills with the Effects of Regulating Qi, Activating Blood and Dispelling Wind) applied on certain auricular points, the authors have successively treated scapulohumeral periarthritis with good therapeutic results as reported in the following review.

Alternatives to Drugs for Treating Pain

Drug-free pain management is now a top priority among researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health. A comprehensive summary of the effectiveness of nondrug treatments for common pain problems – back pain, fibromyalgia, severe headache, knee arthritis and neck pain — was published last year in Mayo Clinic Proceedings by Richard L. Nahin and colleagues at the center.

Acupuncture Points and Their Relationship with Multireceptive Fields of Neurons

By means of morphological studies, it has been shown that most APs are located on or adjacent to peripheral nerve trunks or branches, capillary vessels, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, nerve receptors, nerve endings, and mast cells. The meridians correspond to trajectories of relevant deep peripheral nerves including blood vessels [[15], [16]]. Early studies identified that myelinated and unmyelinated fibers are stimulated during acupuncture by recording the compound action potential [17]. The acupuncture-signal transmission to the central nervous system occurred through such afferent fibers [11]. Even the sensation that occurs during positioning of an acupuncture needle during treatment (“De qi sensation”), it is now generally accepted that it involves a multitude of fiber types, ranging from fast-conducting myelinated Aβ fibers of high threshold to slow-conducting unmyelinated C fibers with relatively low thresholds [[18], [19]]. In addition, lesion of nerves, block of neuronal activity, reduction of neurotransmitter release (by pharmacologic intervention), or by lesioning the spinal cord or supraspinal regions, prevents the action of acupuncture on the function of the following systems: cardiovascular function [[15], [20]], nociceptive or nonnociceptive pathways [[11], [21]], immune responses [[22], [23]], digestive system [[24], [25]], and neuroendocrine regulation [[26], [27]]. Therefore, the nerves within these meridians and acupoints are probably involved in the therapeutic effects of acupuncture (Figure 1).

Acupuncture Treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy in an American Indian Community

With increasing obesity among young people, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) is growing worldwide with diagnosis occurring at an earlier age [1]. In the United States, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) are at greater risk for DM diagnosis [2] and suffer disproportionately higher rates of diabetic amputation than the general United States (US) population [3].

Overall, one third of adults with DM are estimated to suffer with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) symptoms. Pain management is challenging, with multiple medications typically prescribed for those with greater severity of symptoms [4]. Symptomatic treatment generally includes prescription and/or over-the-counter pain medications; specifically, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), opioids, anticonvulsants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors/selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and tricyclic antidepressants [5].

"Time Travel": Contemporary Applications for Jet Lag from Ancient Principles

The symptoms of jet lag include fatigue; disorientation; insomnia; nausea; irrational behavior and mental confusion to edema; headache; and anorexia. These symptoms may last from 1-10 days depending on the person. As a result, many vacations, political and business dealings have been dealt serious blows because of the symptoms of jet lag.

Eye Paralysis Treatment With Acupuncture

Researchers from the First People's Hospital of Lanzhou find scalp and body style acupuncture effective for the treatment of ophthalmoplegia (eye muscle paralysis). The three arm study compared standalone supplement therapy, standalone acupuncture therapy, and a combination of acupuncture plus supplements in a comprehensive treatment protocol. The greatest positive patient outcome rate was recorded in the acupuncture plus supplements group (95.16%). The least effective therapy of the three approaches to care was the use of standalone supplement therapy (58.06%).

By Elmar Ersch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons  

By Elmar Ersch (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

An Analysis of Chinese Herb Prescriptions for Rheumatoid Arthritis

In China, syndromes similar to rheumatoid arthritis were an area of special concern, generating considerable literature on the subject, since the condition could arise suddenly and could rapidly become severely debilitating. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, tended to be lumped together with other disorders of aging, in which stiffness and pain, especially of the legs, was considered just one part of the gradual deterioration of body functions that occurs with old age. As such, it is usually not the subject of much discussion separate from antiaging therapies. The formulas described in this article mainly fit the category of rheumatoid arthritis treatments.

By Jnewton2005 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jnewton2005 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A stunning herbal formula wins recognition in the Western medical community

Dr. Xiumin Li, a TCM doctor originally from Beijing, has assembled a research team at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York that has created an effective Chinese herbal formula for the treatment of asthma. Her results, done with the collaboration of Dr. Hugh Sampson in the Department of Allergy and Immunology, are generating significant and  favorable reviews in the Western medical community for the use of Chinese herbs as an effective alternative to steroid use.

Broadening Strategies in the Treatment of Insomnia

Successful treatment of insomnia can be an elusive goal, especially in patients who have a chronic condition (more then 5 years) or in later life (after age 50). The difficult cases tend to be those based in deficiency, rather than excess. Cases of excess respond quite quickly with herbal intervention.

Modern TCM literature describes four types of insomnia[i]: “Difficult to sleep” indicates inability to fall asleep; “early awake” indicates those who fall asleep but then awake later; “light sleep” describes those unable to obtain a deep sleep, or who are disturbed by dreams or nightmares; and “awake all night”, the most serious type, indicates patients who lie awake throughout the night.

Empty Heat

"Empty Heat" derives from Yin deficiency. There are two aspects I would like to clarify straight away.  The term "Empty" Heat may give the impression that Empty Heat is not "real" Heat. Although deriving from Yin deficiency, Empty Heat is "real" Heat and it heats up as much as Full Heat.

The second important clarification is that, although Empty Heat derives from Yin deficiency,  this may occur by itself for years before giving rise to Empty Heat.  Thus, although Empty Heat derives from Yin deficiency, it takes time for it to develop.  Therefore one may have Yin deficiency for years without Empty Heat.

Three essential herbal products for your first aid kit

There are three Chinese patent medicines that belong in everyone’s first aid kit. All three are for topical application, and all three provide extraordinary benefits unavailable from any domestic over-the-counter. The three products are Yunnan Bai Yao, Plaster For Bruise (Pain Relieving Medicated Plaster), and Ching Wan Hung.

Treating Vertigo

In clinical practice, vertigo and dizziness are distinguished by degree, with vertigo as a more serious manifestation. In vertigo, the head feels as if wrapped in a wet towel, with symptoms of spinning and loss of balance. The etiological cause is an underlying deficiency of spleen qi with accumulation on heat in the middle jiao. This leads to food stagnation and phlegm, and if truth were told, phlegm is the key pathogenic factor in vertigo. Underlying deficiencies of kidney yin and jing can generate liver wind, driving phlegm upwards. In TCM, this can be referred to simply as endogenous wind-phlegm. Effective herbal formulas should address this complex of deficiency, wind, heat and phlegm.

By marcello from potenza, italy (Dizzy thorns) [CC BY 2.0 ( or CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By marcello from potenza, italy (Dizzy thorns) [CC BY 2.0 ( or CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons