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Michael Tierra L.Ac, O.M.D., A.H.G., June 2007

Nicotiana Rustica


Nicotiana Tobacum



Nicotiana rustica is the species of tobacco that is native to North America, unlike the larger leaved, highly commercialized variety, Nicotiana tobacum. N. Rustica also has the distinction of being universally regarded by both North and South American natives as the most sacred of all herbs. It is used for ceremony, prayer, communing with the Great Spirit, and miscellaneous but relatively minor medicinal uses.

I first encountered it when I was returning from a Salmon fishing spree with my Karok friends, Willis Conrad and his sidekick, Hambone. It was growing along the banks of the junction of the Salmon and Klamath rivers in the mountains of Northern California. My Native American friends didn t want to admit it, but I had known from previous discussions that they and most Karoks had forgotten what this herb looked like, despite its sacred and cultural importance as their only cultivated plant.

Traditionally, the Karok method involved a designated tobacco grower who would burn a small secret clearing in the woods and scatter the wild tobacco seeds, presumably in the winter, to be harvested in the spring of the following year. Then, individuals from the tribe would present their finely woven grass caps to be filled with dried tobacco in exchange for some dentalium shells, which was their form of currency.

It was a somewhat diminutive native tobacco plant that I first identified that day in the spring of 1970, and when I realized that I had found the Karok's most sacred herb, I excitedly showed it to my two friends. With their pockets bulging with commercial cigarettes, they did not seem very impressed. Like the natives of the Southeast and throughout North America, they, along with virtually all smokers, had succumbed to the convenience lure of chemically laden, commercialized tobacco, which has over 600 added chemicals many of which contribute to their addiction. [1]

Tobacco was the first and most important crop exported to Europe, and ultimately throughout the world. It gave rise to a violent and brutal history, involving its cultivation and its contribution to the rise of slavery in the South. At first the colonists tried to persuade and eventually to force the Southeastern natives to cultivate the native species of N. Rustica and then N. Tobacum. The problem was that these people, at home in their native lands, did not take well to slavery and would disappear into their forests. This was inevitably followed by forced importation of Negroes from Africa for the Southeastern slave trade.

Appalachian herbalist Phyllis Light sums up the following, regarding tobacco:

According to Lain Gately author of Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, both Nicotiana rustica and Nicotiana tabacum originated in the Peruvian/Ecuadorean Andes and spread northward from there, including the offshore islands of Cuba.

Nicotiana tabacum has broader leaves and is taller than rustica, which made it a better plant for harvesting and commerce. Gerard's Herbal of 1636 called tobacco henbane of Peru .

Other interesting tidbits from the book:

1. There are 16 species of Nicotiana native to Australia and used by the Aboriginals.

2. Jamestown survived by growing Nicotiana tabacum for the English market.

3. The first African slaves in the South were bought from the Dutch in 1619 and taken to Jamestown to work the tobacco fields.

4. In 1619, John Rolfe introduced the concept of brands with Orinoco, which had a light and delicate fragrance, burned evenly, and was sweet and lacking in harshness. He borrowed the curing practice from Native Americans.

Native Americans harvested the leaves, one at a time and wrapped them in bracken ferns. Curing consisted of alternating periods in sweat lodges and sunshine. In the autumn, they were laid outside every morning to absorb the dew.

The seedpods were saved, tied in small bunches and hung in the houses over the winter. In the spring they were crushed and the seeds were scattered.

A recent issue of National Geographic [2] contained an article centering around two centuries-old tobacco seeds discovered in Jamestown, Virginia. The importance of the Jamestown colony settlement was based on the cultivation and export of tobacco for the likes of Sir Walter Raleigh and similar European upper crust. The article described how this was done:

A new arrival in 1610 was John Rolfe, the first person to experiment with non-native tobacco crops in the colony. Rolfe somehow got hold of seeds for a species of tobacco that Spanish colonists obtained from South America and the Caribbean.

The leaves from this tobacco plant were considered so desirable and therefore so valuable that Spain imposed the death penalty for anyone selling the seeds outside its colonies.

Historians aren't sure how Rolfe obtained the Spanish seeds, but what experts do know is that after Jamestown's shaky start, tobacco became the colony's main cash crop and helped make Jamestown England's first permanent settlement in the New World.

The discovery of the tobacco seeds therefore provides an important link to one of the country's greatest assets. This was the beginning of the family farm, and that's been the strength of this country forever.

While these colonists first tried to persuade the native people to cultivate N. rusticana, the Native people were not all that reliable. With the introduction of seeds from Hispaniola and South America, illegally obtained from Spanish sources, the larger leaved N. tobacum began to be widely cultivated. This eventually led to the forced abduction and importation of Negroes from Africa to Virginia and other Southern states, where they were brutally conscripted to cultivate tobacco for the pleasurable indulgence and deadly addiction of people throughout the world.

From sacred to most deadly herb, the history of tobacco begins with the desecration of a people and their culture and leads to the present, with the misery of untold millions of people throughout the world  people who have desperately tried to quit smoking, many of whom suffer from chronic upper respiratory complaints and the very real threat of lung cancer. Tobacco smoking is responsible for the death of approximately 100 million people, which is far more than the 60 million soldiers and civilians who died in World War II and the 20 million who died in World War I, making smoking tobacco the greatest health scourge of humanity[3]. In fact, I have frequently used this as a motivational story to those who are trying to stop smoking.

It is the two-fold curse of tobacco, that it is not only symbolically associated with the usurpation of the lands and near genocide of North American Natives, but that the use of it still persists throughout the world today, along with its legacy of upper respiratory misery and suffering.

Why is quitting tobacco smoking so difficult? Indeed, for many, it is the most difficult addiction to break. One reason is that it only takes 8 seconds after smoking for tobacco molecules to reach the brain. These, in turn, contact neurotransmitters, which stimulate dopamine in the brain, giving a short-lived sense of peaceful euphoria  and who would not want to experience that throughout trying moments of a day? [4] It is interesting to note that true tobacco addiction coincided with the invention of convenient quick strike matches in the early 20th century. Then, addictions increased through a massive advertising campaign that overcame the taboo of women smoking. Eventually, this tendency continued and, fueled by the media, the tobacco industry found new and increasing ways to snare the young into the deadly habit of smoking as soon as they were able.

For over 6,000 years, people have smoked or chewed the leaves of the tobacco plant. It was first found and cultivated in the Americas, perhaps as early as 6,000 B.C. Following the discovery and colonization of North and South America, the tobacco plant was exported widely, to Europe and the rest of the civilized world. Even in its early days, tobacco use was controversial. In England there is an Elizabethan lute song by composer, Tobias Hume that, were not for its cultural prescience, would make a great ad for modern tobacco manufacturers, entitled "Tobacco is like love."

Tobacco, Tobacco, Sing sweetly for tobacco, tobacco is like love, O love it, etc.

Some extolled its medicinal properties. From its inception, tobacco was thought to be protective against the ravages of the Plague! However, since as early as the 1600's, there was speculation that there could be a link between tobacco smoking and upper respiratory diseases, as well as cancer.

Since 1500 there have been many who regarded tobacco as a powerful medicinal herb with near panacea properties. Pedro Alvarez Cabral in Brazil reported using the herb for ulcerated abscesses, fistulas, sores, inveterate polyps and many other ailments. [i]Spanish missionaries recorded that breathing the odor of the fresh green leaves of the plant relieved persistent headaches, and that rubbing the leaves around the inside of the mouth relieved symptoms of colds and catarrh. Crushed, steamed tobacco leaves mixed with salt were used to treat swollen glands, by applying them directly over the affected area.[ii]

In 1934 Fernando Ocaranza summed up the medicinal uses of tobacco in Mexico before the year 1519 as antidiarrheal, narcotic and emollient; he said that tobacco leaves were applied for the relief of pain, used in powdered form for the relief of catarrh and applied locally to heal wounds and burns.[iii]

The wide range of usage, including conditions ranging from the relief of pain to the external treatment of parasites, such as lice and ringworm, was impressive enough to warrant travelers to take the plants and seeds back to Europe.

My Italian father, who was a smoker, used to blow tobacco smoke in my ear to relieve earache which it did. Then I came across John Wesley's Primitive Physick, first published in 1747, which recommended tobacco for earache ( blow the smoke of tobacco strongly into it ) as well as for falling sickness, and for piles ( apply a tobacco leaf steeped in water twenty-four hours ).

Tobacco indeed still has many powerful medicinal uses, especially when applied externally.[iv] Following is a list of successful uses of tobacco as identified by researcher G. G. Stewart:

Bites of poisonous reptiles and insects; hysteria; pain, neuralgia; laryngeal spasm; gout; growth of hair; tetanus; ringworm ; rodent ulcer; ulcers; wounds; respiratory stimulant

Tobacco administered by rectum: Constipation; haemorrhoidal bleeding

Tobacco administered by mouth: Strangulated hernia (smoke by mouth); malaria or intermittent fever; dislodging obstructive material from oesophagus by inducing vomiting

Tobacco administered by inhalation: Nasal polyps. [v]

I would add to this, from personal experience, the relief (and possible cure) of earache.

In conclusion, tobacco is just a plant with an extraordinary history of use. It is steeped with a history of sacred reverence in the Native American Pipe ritual, when smoking tobacco would brace and clear the mind as the smoke was believed to carry one's prayers to the Great Spirit. In addition, is had a wide variety of uses for physical complaints, such as venomous bites and stings, internal and external parasites, and the symptomatic relief of pain, which justifies its wide use and appreciation by Native American and European peoples.

As we release our addiction to, and dependence on smoking tobacco, let us not forget its many practical medicinal uses.


[i] Dickson SA. Panacea or Precious Bane. Tobacco in 16th Century Literature. New York: New York Public Library,1954

[ii] Brookes JE. The Mighty Leaf: Tobacco Through the Centuries. Boston: Little, Brown, 1952

[iii] Dickson SA. Panacea or Precious Bane. Tobacco in 16th Century Literature. New York: New York Public Library,1954


[v] Stewart GG. A history of the medicinal use of tobacco 1492-1860. Med Hist1967; 11:228 -68[Medline]

[1] Dickson SA. Panacea or Precious Bane. Tobacco in 16th Century Literature. New York: New York Public Library,1954

[1] Brookes JE. The Mighty Leaf: Tobacco Through the Centuries. Boston: Little, Brown, 1952

[1] Dickson SA. Panacea or Precious Bane. Tobacco in 16th Century Literature. New York: New York Public Library,1954


[1] Stewart GG. A history of the medicinal use of tobacco 1492-1860. Med Hist1967; 11:228 -68[Medline]

Tariq Sawandi

Yorubic medicine is indigenous to and widely practiced on the African continent. Yorubic medicine has its roots in the Ifa Corpus, a religious text revealed by the mystic prophet, Orunmila, over 4,000 years ago in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, now known as Yorubaland. Within the last 400 years, this healing system has also been practiced in the day-to-day lives of individuals in the Caribbean, and South America, in large part, because of the traditions brought over by African slaves arriving in the Americas.

Orunmila's teachings were directed at the Yoruba people which centered around the topics of divination, prayer, dance, symbolic gestures, personal and communal elevation, spiritual baths, meditation, and herbal medicine. This ancient text, the Ifa Corpus, is the foundation for the art of divine herbology. Although Yorubic medicine has been practiced in Africa for over 4,000 years, its fundamental principles are little known to Westerners around the world. Among the various medical techniques for diagnosis and treatment, Yorubic medicine provides an important and valuable system worthy of study. The purpose of Yoruba is not merely to counteract the negative forces of disease in the human body, but also to achieve spiritual enlightenment and elevation which are the means of freeing the soul.

As with all ancient systems of medicine, the ideal of Yoruba herbology is to condition the body in its entirety so that disease will not attack it. (The term Osain is also used to describe Yorubic herbology. The word "Osain" means "the divine Orisha of plants". I will also use this term throughout the essay.) Many Westerners take it for granted that "African medicine" is a vague term for a collection of medical "voo doo". This myth about African medicine creeped in over centuries of misunderstandings. What is left is the negative image of primitive "voo doo" witch-doctors. This "voo doo" mentality is devoid of the sacred realities born of African thought in respect to religion, philosophy, and medicine. Therefore, the reader must separate witch-doctor myths from the genuine article when considering African herbal medicine.

Read more ...

Michael Tierra L.Ac., O.M.D.


The Lungs rule Qi, have a dispersing and descending function and are directly connected to the exterior environment. This makes them vulnerable to external invasion of Pernicious Influences. Because of this, patterns of Lung disharmony include External as well as internal conditions.

Causes for Lung Disharmonies: Pathogenic Influences: The Lungs are the only Internal Organ that has direct contact with the outer environment through breathing, controlling the skin and influencing Defensive Qi. Being vulnerable to External Pernicious Influences, they are regarded as the "sensitive," or the "princess," of the Organs. Any of the External Pernicious Influences can invade - Wind, Heat, Fire, Cold, Damp, and Dryness, although Wind 2 generally combines with any of the other factors. Thus, exposure to any of these Influences, or to environments in homes or work places where these are present, can cause any of the external patterns of disharmony.

Emotions: Grief, worry and sadness in excess can have a profoundly debilitating affect on the Lungs, being a precipitating cause of conditions such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, frequent colds and flus or pneumonia.

Diet: Diet is very important to Lung health, as it is to all the Organs. Excessive consumption of cold, raw and damp foods, such as salads, fruits, juices, dairy, wheat, iced or refrigerated drinks and foods, causes Dampness3 in the Spleen which is often "stored" in the Lungs. This is why Lung Dampness, manifested as certain types of bronchitis and asthma, can often be healed by moving to a dryer environment, eliminating foods such as dairy and various fruit juices like orange juice from the diet and taking herbs that contain Citrus and Pinellia (Citrus and Pinellia Combination) that eliminate Spleen Dampness.

Lifestyle Habits: Exercise stimulates Fire in the body and is essential in moving the Iymphatic system and drying Dampness. Those who's work or inclination involves lack of physical activity will be especially susceptible to Damp accumulation caused by injury to the Spleen and Lungs. Coldness ultimately tends to inhibit circulation, which further slows the Iymphatic system and leads to Dampness. Sudden exposure to Cold, Heat and Damp may not give the body sufficient time to prepare for the climatic changes and eventually can compromise the immune system. Finally, mucus-forming foods such as dairy and flour products, denatured foods such as white sugar and Damp-natured foods such as citrus and fruit juices can weaken the body and cause External invasion.

The Chinese concept of 'Wind' implies something that travels or changes. In some instances it suggests the process of infectious diseases, at the same time it suggests the nervous system's ability to control the dilation and contraction of the pores of the skin. Internal Wind refers to the nervous system, especially the Central nervous system of the brain.

Dampness, or Phlegm, according to Chinese medical theory comes from weak or incomplete digestion and assimilation that refers to Spleen Qi. Since the Lungs require a significant amount of lubrication to offset their constant drying influence from air, it is reasonable that most of the residual Spleen Dampness would first go to the Lungs. If there is too much, therefore, the Lungs are often the first place to be adversely effected.

Physiological explanation for the traditional assignments for the lungs

The Lungs Rule Qi

The process of creating energy is a metabolic process that involves and requires oxygen and in turn produces carbon dioxide as a waste. Oxygen from the lungs combines with iron and is necessary for the creation of oxyhaemoglobin or oxygenated erythrocytes. Energy is stored as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and heat. Heat is necessary to maintain the body for the optimum level of chemical activity (about 98.4 degrees F. or 36.9 degrees C).

The Lungs Control the Channels and the Blood Vessels

The process of inspiration is active and requires energy for muscle contraction. Upon inhalation the diaphragm is pushed down and puts pressure on the abdomen and all its contents including the intra-abdominal veins. At the same time, pressure in the thorax decreases. This includes a decrease of pressure in the intra-thoracic veins and right atrium of the heart. With a decrease of outer thoracic pressure, there is an increase of pressure between the peripheral veins and the heart. The deeper the inspiration as in exercise, Qi Gung and deep breathing exercise, the more blood transported from the peripheral veins to the heart. All of this results in increased oxygen to the cells for the metabolism of energy and the greater the release of carbon dioxide waste.

The Lungs Control Dispersing and Descending

The dispersing function of the lungs refers to the transportation of the bulk of oxygen throughout the body to maintain a continuous oxygen supply to all cells.

The Lungs Control the Skin and body Hair

The bulk of oxygen absorbed from the lungs combines with iron (the metal element) to be transported around the body forms oxyhaemoglobin, giving blood its characteristic red color. Therefore, the level of hemoglobin and the amount of blood circulating in the dermis give the skin its pink color. The condition of the skin and the associated hair follicles are influenced by the hemoglobin circulating in the skin.

The Lungs Open to the Nose

The nose is considered the 'doorway to the lungs.' Breathing deeply through the nose has the effect of sending the external air through the nasal passages, resulting in a greater capacity of the body to trap airborne pathogens as well as warm the breath more effectively for better assimilation of oxygen in the lungs. It is obvious that any aspect of the nasal-pharyngeal passages that impairs the intake of air, will have a negative effect on the lungs.

The Lungs Abhor Dryness

From the nasal passages down to through the bronchioles and lungs, the dehydrating effect of air is occurring. As a result the relation of the spleen to the lungs means that any byproduct of non-fully metabolized food is transformed to mucus. Since the bulk of the lubricating effects of mucus are actually needed by these respiratory passages, they tend to accumulate there. Food deprivation, or foods that lack calories and bulk, lighter, more eliminative foods such as fruits, vegetables together with drying and astringent foods and spicy foods, (the flavor of the lungs) will promote lung dryness. Any excess of these can injure the lungs by depriving them of sufficient mucus to maintain proper lubrication (called lung yin).

The Lungs House the Corporeal Spirit

The Corporeal Spirit or "Po" as it is called in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is the very spirit of life. This in contrast to the Ethereal soul or "Hun" housed in the liver and is responsible for the pure expression of being. While the Po represents the physical aspect of spirit, the objectifying "what and how we are," the Hun represents manifestation of the deeper spirit or more closely "who" we are and thus is most closely associated to Shen or spirit. The Po is related to the lungs and is corresponds to the breath of life manifesting as physical energy. The Po is connected to all our life promoting automatic responses, the most fundamental of which is the act of breathing. Of course it does other things as well such as maintaining bodily rhythms, metabolism and homeostasis. As the moment of conception the Po becomes active and controls Hun. In other words, the expression of our feelings and emotions in utero is non-existent as all physiological life processes are governed by PO while Hun is dormant. Upon birth Po and Hun separate and we see that upon the first breath, there is often the expression of crying. Actually this also helps to promote the process of respiration but who could not associate the first tears of birth with an expression of spirit. Upon death, Hun returns to the realm of heaven (pure being) while Po dissolves with the physical body and returns to earth.

The relation of Po to the lungs extends from the control of breathing to the greater sense of moment to moment self maintenance. Po imparts the sense of detachment that allows one to remain in the moment. It is the ability to receive and release whatever is or is not needed with each inhaled and exhaled breath.

An expression of Po may have to do with our ability to experience pleasure or pain without dwelling on either which in the case of pain involves suffering, a negative expression of Hun. Many times if we can separate our pain from our suffering response to it, the pain becomes less and consequently the ability of Po to maintain and regenerate the body is optimized. Po is often called the Animal Spirit exemplified by the ability of animals to remain in the moment with their experience of pain. At the same time, they have a much less developed sense of Hun that requires a higher order of associative intelligence allowing them to suffer as a result of attaching significance to their pain. Dwelling on pleasure on the other hand leads to suffering when it is no longer happening.

The Lungs Loathe Cold

The entire metabolic process involving the creation of energy is slowed under the influence of cold. The effect of cold actually slows the process of alveolar ventilation in the lungs responsible for the assimilation of oxygen into the blood.


The Lungs Govern the Voice

The process of speech is all done on an exhaled breath. Weakness of the lungs, is reflected in general qi or energy deficiency that causes our diaphragmatic muscle to be weaker. As a result we are unable to sufficiently project our voice.

The Emotion of the Lungs are Grief and Sadness

The movement of air in the lungs is responsible for the expression of a number of emotions including laughing and crying. Laughter pushes the diaphragm and causes upward pressure on the lungs and results in a more forceful and gratuitous expulsion of air. The emotion of sadness and grief often causes one to hold one's breath for prolonged periods, oxygen uptake is decreased and metabolism is slowed. This may be followed by a compensatory process of sobbing and crying which is an attempt by the body to compensate for the loss of life giving air and oxygen. Stored carbon dioxide, in the tissues is released along with the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles causing stiffness and pain. A greater ease is generated throughout the body. These are perhaps only some of the physiological reasons that either crying or laughing tend to make one feel better. Obviously a prolonged condition of oxygen deprivation may not only slow a part of the process of air and oxygen intake, but lower the immune system, slow digestion and metabolism (the "I'm not hungry" and weight loss accompanying those who are grieving) and the buildup of metabolic waste.


External Patterns

Invasion of the Lungs by Wind-Cold

This pattern is one of Wind and Cold Pernicious Influences invading and obstructing the Lungs. The descending function is disrupted, causing cough and -a runny or stuffed nose, and the dispersing function is impaired, resulting in sneezing. When Wind-Chill attacks the Defensive Qi, the pores try to stay closed in the "battle" against the attack, resulting in lack of perspiration, fever, chills, body aches and aversion to cold. However, in this case the chills are stronger from the Cold invasion.

This pattern occurs from over-exposure to a cold and possibly windy environment, air conditioning, drafts or refrigerated store-rooms. Further, it can occur if there is a weakness of the Defensive, or "Wei", energy, thus allowing the External Influences to more easily and frequently invade the body. Finally, the nature of External acute conditions is that they can change quickly, and can move back and forth from Wind Heat to Wind Cold, or vice versa.

  • aversion to cold
  • sneezing
  • slight fever strong chills
  • body aches cough with thin, watery sputum
  • lack of sweating
  • itchy throat
  • stuffed or runny nose with clear-watery mucus
  • occipital headache
  • Pulse: floating, tight
  • Tongue: thin white coat

Herbal Therapy: Trikatu, ginger tea, garlic, Nine Herbs with Notopterygii Decoction (Jiu Wei Qiang huo Tang), Ephedra Combination (Ma huang tang) for Excess conformation or when there is no sweating, Pueraria Combination (Ge gen tang) for middle strength constitutions or when there is accompanying tight neck and shoulders, Cinnamon Combination (Gui zhi tang) for Deficient types or when there is sweating. 'Trikatu' is a traditional Ayurvedic preparation easily made at home for Coldness and Dampness There are many variations, but all are based on the idea of combining three spices, usually powdered and taken with honey. The standard preparation is equal parts powdered black pepper, pippali pepper (Chinese "bibo") and dry ginger in a honey-based paste. Anywhere from a half to a full teaspoon is taken two or three times daily. For children, Pippali pepper can be substituted with two parts anise seed.

Food Therapy: Eat all cooked foods, keeping them simple, such as soups of grains or black beans with garlic and onions, vegetables and a little chicken. Avoid all else until healed.

Other Therapies: Avoid exposure to air conditioning, drafts, cold and windy environments; dress warmly to conserve the body's heat and immune potential. One of the places that are most exposed is the neck and shoulders so that in cold, windy environment, a warm scarf is good protection. Again, to support the immune system that emanates from the power of the Kidneys, a Harimake will be gratefully appreciated in cold environments. In addition, therapies such as cupping and moxibustion over the upper back, chest, kidneys and lower abdomen is useful; breathing exercises; morning saline nasal wash; ginger fomentation, onion poultice or mustard plaster over the chest are traditional methods that can be employed with great benefit.

Exercise: Bed rest

Invasion of Lungs by Wind-Heat

Similar to invasion of the Lungs by Wind-Chill, in this case the Wind enters with Heat5, such as high fever, sweating and aversion to heat as part of the symptom complex. It can be caused by exposure to climatic Heat and possibly Wind, overly heated environments in the home and work place, or Wind-Cold conditions changing to Heat.

  • fever aversion to cold
  • sore throat
  • slight chills stuffy or runny nose with yellow mucus
  • perspiration
  • thirst
  • constipation dark urine swollen tonsils body aches
  • headache cough with yellow mucus
  • Pulse: floating and rapid
  • Tongue: red on the sides or tip with a white or yellow coat

Herbal Therapy: Lonicera and Forsythia (Yin Qiao San),

Heat. of course, refers to bacterial or viral pathogens.

Food Therapy: Keep the diet simple, perhaps fasting on fruit or vegetable juices or soups, such as rice and black or mung beans. Avoid all else until healed. Other Therapies: Avoid exposure to overly heated and perhaps windy environments and climates; do cupping over the upper back, breathing exercises as appropriate and onion poultices over the chest.

Exercise: Bed rest

Cold Dampness Obstructing the Lungs

This pattern can occur from an External Damp Pernicious Influence attacking the body, or from any External Influence invading and mixing with a preexisting chronic disharmony of Deficient Spleen or Kidney Qi. The result is an accumulation of Dampness, causing Phlegm and obstruction of the Lung functions. In this case, the Dampness is accompanied by Cold and thus, Cold signs. It is caused by lowered immunity, Deficient Spleen Qi or Yang and possibly Deficient Kidney Qi, and a diet high in cold, raw foods and drinks.

  • chronic cough with profuse white sputum
  • wheezing or asthma with copious white sputum chest and flank stuffiness
  • distension and soreness difficulty in breathing, especially when Lying down
  • white-pasty complexion shortness of breath or breathlessness
  • Pulse: slippery and weak-floating or fine
  • Tongue: thick, greasy white coat

Herbal Therapy: Citrus and Pinellia Combination (Er chen tang)

Food Therapy: Only eat and drink cooked warm foods and fluids, keeping them simple, such as soups. Some spicy tasting things can be helpful, such as ginger tea or horseradish. Avoid all else until healed. When over the acute stage, eat a diet of only cooked foods and warm drinks, avoiding cold raw and damp foods, such as dairy and flour products, salads, fruits, fruit and vegetable juices (especially orange juice), refined foods such as white sugar, and refrigerated or iced foods and drinks.

The inside juice part of the orange is both Cold and Damp while the outer peel is spicy and drying. For this reason, the Brahman sects in India are taught from a young age to always eat a part of the peel of any fruit that is peeled. In this case, warming and drying citrus peel is an antidote for the Cold Dampness of the inner fruit.

Other Therapies: Onion and/or ginger poultices over the chest; cupping on chest or over upper back; moxibustion in the same areas; nasal wash; keep warmly dressed, with a neck scarf and a harimaki, and avoid exposure to cold, damp and windy environments.

Exercise: Bed rest

Phlegm Heat Obstructing the Lungs

This is similar to Cold Damp Obstructing the Lungs, but it is accompanied by Heat instead. It can be caused by an External Damp or Wind-Heat Pernicious Influence attacking the body and mixing with a preexisting chronic disharmony of Deficient Spleen Qi. It results in an accumulation of Dampness and Heat, causing Phlegm and obstruction of the Lung functions. It is caused by lowered immunity, Deficient Spleen Qi and a diet high in hot, greasy, spicy, fried foods, meat, alcohol and tobacco.

  • cough with profuse yellow or green sputum which is foul-smelling
  • shortness of breath wheezing or asthma with copious yellow or green sputum
  • chest and flank stuffiness, distension and soreness difficulty in breathing, especially when Iying down shortness of breath or breathlessness
  • Pulse: slippery, rapid or slippery, rapid-floating
  • Tongue: thick, greasy yellow coat

Herbal Therapy: MaHuang and Apricot Seed Combination (Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang) and Citrus and Pinellia Combination (Er chen tang) with scutellaria, gardenia, apricot seed and platycodon.

Food Therapy: Simple soups or vegetable juice fast until healed. When over the acute stage, avoid: alcohol, red meat, tobacco, spicy, greasy and fried foods and dairy.

Other Therapies: Cupping over the chest or upper back; onion poultice; nasal wash; breathing exercises as appropriate.

Exercise: Bed rest

Internal Patterns

Deficient Lung Qi

When Lung Qi is Deficient, there is tiredness, weakness, cough, sweating and a propensity to catching colds and flus, because the Qi cannot adequately perform its protecting, dispersing or descending functions. It can be caused by a prolonged External Pernicious Influence (heat, cold, wind, fear, shock, dampness, dryness, summer heat) remaining in the Lungs and injuring the Qi. Excessive use of antibiotics will lock Cold in the Lungs and injures the Qi. Hereditary weakness, especially if one of the parents or grandparents had tuberculosis. Other aggravating factors include excessive stooping or leaning over desks and tables to work, or a diet high in cold raw foods and drinks.

  • shortness of breath weak voice bright-white complexion
  • cough watery sputum exhausted appearance
  • Iow voice and lack of desire to talk
  • weak respiration
  • daytime sweats
  • Iowered resistance to colds and flus
  • tiredness
  • Pulse: empty
  • Tongue: pale or normal colored

Herbal Therapy: Four Major ingredients (Si junzi tang) with Astragalus root.

Food Therapy: Eat all cooked foods and warm drinks, plenty of grains, especially rice, sufficient protein at each meal, black bean soup with garlic and onions, cooked vegetables and greens; avoid cold, raw foods and drinks, salads, fruit, juices, alcohol, caffeine.

Other Therapies: Avoid excessive stooping or leaning over tables or desks; rest; dress warmly according to the season, especially with a scarf around the neck; avoid over-exertion in work or sexual activity; get plenty of rest, going to bed early such as 9 - 9:30 at night; moxibustion, especially over the lower abdomen; Harimake; breathing exercises; nasal wash; working on emotional issues such as sadness, grief and worry.

Exercise: Light to moderate exercise within the body's limits; do not over exercise or do strong aerobics; walking, swimming, cycling, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong are beneficial.

Deficient Lung Yin

Fluids can become depleted in the Lungs from invasion of Exterior Heat and Dryness that remains so long that it injures the Yin. Other causes are from Yin Deficiency of the Kidneys or Stomach, which affects the Lungs, long-term Lung Qi Deficiency, and from excessive and prolonged tobacco smoking. Characteristically, there will be Dry and Empty Heat signs along with Lung symptoms.

  • unproductive dry cough with little or no phlegm or blood-tinged phlegm
  • feeling of heat in the afternoon
  • dry mouth and throat
  • emaciated appearance
  • Iow or hoarse voice
  • malar flush night sweats
  • burning sensation in palms, soles and chest
  • insomnia
  • Pulse: floating, empty and rapid
  • Tongue: red, peeled, dry; possible cracks in the Lung area

Herbal Therapy: Eriobotrya and Ophiopogon Combination (Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang) Food Therapy: Avoid hot, spicy, fried and greasy foods. Eat grains, protein, vegetables and greens and, if digestion is good, some fruit and juices. Include asparagus, duck, black beans, and milk in the diet.

Other Therapies: Oil massage; breathing exercises; Harimake; rest; cupping over upper back; breathing exercises; meditation, contemplation and prayer.

Exercise: Rest is extremely important in replenishing Yin, both during the day and at night, going to bed early, by 9 PM. Avoid aerobic exercise or any activity causing sweating, but do Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and other stretches, and light walking and swimming.

Combined Patterns:

Lungs and Liver

The Lungs rule Qi while the Liver stores and regulates Blood. The Lungs are dependent on Liver Qi for the smooth movement of Qi, while the Liver relies on Lung Qi to regulate Blood. A dysfunction of the Lungs in dispersing and descending Qi causes Dryness and Heat to go downward which can stagnate Liver Qi or cause Heat in the Liver. On the other hand, if Liver Qi stagnates in the chest, it can impair the flow of Lung-Qi or turn into fire and burn the Yin of the Lungs.

Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation

  • cough moving pains
  • distension and fullness in the sternocostal or hypochondriac regions
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • depression
  • Listlessness
  • Pulse: empty and tight
  • Tongue: pale or normal colored

Herbal Therapy: Bupleurum and Dang Gui Formula (Xiao Yao San or Rambling Powder) with 9 grams of codonopsis and 6 grams of apricot seed. Food Therapy: The same as for Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Other Therapies: The same as for Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Exercise: Four Purifications breathing practices, meditation and Eight Brocades Qi Gong practices.

Liver Qi Stagnation Invading the Lungs

  • cough breathlessness or difficulty breathing
  • asthma distension and fullness in the sternocostal region
  • Pulse: tight, wiry
  • Tongue: normal colored

Herbal Therapy: Minor Bupleurum Combination(Xiao Chai Hu Tang)

Food Therapy: The same as for Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Other Therapies: The same as for Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Exercise: The same as for Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation. Liver

Fire Invading the Lungs

  • Breathlessness
  • asthma stuffiness and pain of hypochondrium and chest
  • headache irritability cough with painful breathing
  • coughing up of blood or yellow-tinged sputum
  • scanty dark urine
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • Pulse: wiry and slippery
  • Tongue: red, especially on sides; swollen in Lung area; yellow coat

Herbal Therapy: Morus and Lycium Formula (Xie Bai San)

Food Therapy: The same as for Liver Fire rising and Lung Qi Deficiency. Other Therapies: The same as for Liver Fire rising and Lung Qi Deficiency. Exercise: Four Purifications and Shitali Pranayam exercise and the Eight Brocades, especially exercise number 5.

Lungs and Kidneys

The Lungs and Kidneys coordinate to promote movement of respiration. The Lungs rule Qi and respiration, perform the function of respiration and send Qi down to the Kidneys. Kidney Yang holds the Qi down sent by the Lungs and thus controls and promotes inspiration. Therefore, a Deficiency of Lung Qi causes painful and difficult breathing, while a Deficiency of Kidney Yang causes Lung Qi to not be received and results in difficulty of inhaling.

The Lungs also send Fluids down to the Kidneys, which evaporates some of it and sends that vapor back up to the Lungs to keep them moist. A dysfunction of either Organ can impair Fluid metabolism in the body, leading to either urinary incontinence or retention, or a Deficiency of Lung Yin from lack of moisture returning to the Lungs.

Lung Qi and Kidney Yang Deficiency

This is the same as the pattern of Kidneys Failing to Receive Qi under the Kidneys. Refer to that pattern for more details.

Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency

  • dry cough that is worse in the evening
  • feeling of heat in the afternoon night sweating hoarse voice malar flush
  • tidal fever
  • Lassitude of loins and legs soreness of lower back, thin body
  • breathlessness on exertion
  • nocturnal emissions, heat in palms, soles and chest
  • Pulse: empty and floating
  • Tongue: red and peeled with two transverse cracks in Lung area

Herbal Therapy: Ophiopogon Combination (Mai Men Dong Tang) or Rehmannia Six Combination (Liu wei di huang wan) with schizandra, apricot seed and American ginseng.

Food Therapy: The same as for Deficiency of Lung Qi and Kidney Yang.

Other Therapies: The same as for Deficiency of Lung Qi and Kidney Yang. Exercise: The same as for Deficiency of Lung Qi and Kidney Yang.

Spleen and Lungs

The Spleen transforms food and fluids and transports the resulting Grain Qi to the Lungs where it is combined with Air Qi to form True Qi. Thus, they are both crucial to the production of Qi in the body. Furthermore, the Lungs control Qi and have a dispersing and descending function. If impaired, or if there is not enough deep breathing or exercise to bring in sufficient Air Qi, the Spleen is affected and can't function well in transporting, distributing and transforming nutrients or in performing Fluid metabolism.

On the other hand, an impairment of Spleen function or a diet high in cold raw foods leads to Deficient Qi of the Lungs and creates Dampness in the Lungs with symptoms of cough, excessive mucus and asthma. That is why one major way to treat Lung Dampness is to strengthen and dry the Spleen.

Deficient Lung and Spleen Qi

  • no appetite, tiredness
  • breathlessness
  • Ioose stools
  • weak voice bright-white complexion
  • slight spontaneous sweating
  • Pulse: empty
  • Tongue: pale

Herbal Therapy: Six Major Herbs (Liu junza zi tang) with astragalus

Food Therapy: The same as Deficient Lung Qi and Deficient Spleen Qi.

Other Therapies: The same as Deficient Lung Qi and Deficient Spleen Qi. Exercise: The same as Deficient Lung Qi and Deficient Spleen Qi




Citrus and Pinellia Combination (Er chen tang or Two Cured Decoction)*

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 15gms Pinellia ternata

Citrus Peel (Chen Pi) 15gms Citri reticulatus

Poria (Fu Ling) 9gms Poria cocos

Baked Licorice (Zhi Gan Cao) 4gms Glycyrrhizae uralensis

Preparation: Prepare as a decoction adding 3gms of Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) and 1pc of Umeboshi Plum (dried or salt preserved).

Properties and Actions:

a) Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm

b) Regulates Qi and harmonizes the middle warmer (Stomach and Spleen).

Indications: Cough with Damp-Cold Phlegm caused by Cold-Damp of the Spleen and Stomach. Symptoms may include chest and epigastric fullness, nausea, vomiting, lassitude, feeling of heaviness (from Excess mucus), possibly vertigo and palpitations in extreme cases. May be considered for upper respiratory tract infection, chronic bronchitis, cough, goiter, chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer and Meniere's disease.

Tongue: moist, greasy white coat

Pulse: slippery


1. For Damp-Heat of the Upper Warmer add Scutellaria (Huang Qin), Gardenia (Zhi Zi), Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) and Platycodon (Jie Geng).

2. For Damp-Heat in the Lower Warmer add Sophorae (Ku Shen), Phellodendron (Huang Bai) and Talcum (Hua Shi).

3. For Wind-Dampness add Clematis (Wei Ling Xian), Gentiana (Qin Jiao), Xanthium (Cang Er Zi) and Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi).

4. For cough with copious sputum caused by External Cold in the Lungs add Ephedra (Ma Huang) and Apricot Seed (Xing Ren).

5. For vomiting caused by a Cold Stomach add Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) and Cardamon (Sha Ren).

6. For vomiting of clear fluids add Black Atractylodes (Cang Zhu) and White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu).

7. For chronic Phlegm in the channels and flesh leading to rubbery nodules add Oyster Shell (Mu Li), Scrophularia (Xuan Shen), Laminaria (Kun Bu) and Sargassi (Hai Zao).

8. For Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency characterized by coughing of thin, watery sputum, deep pulse and urinary problems, add Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) and prepared aconite (Fu Zi).

9. For insomnia and sleepiness after meals add White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu) and Sweet Flag (Shi Chang Pu).

10. For severe coughing at night caused by Phlegm and Blood Deficiency add Angelica (Dang Gui).

11. For Damp-Phlegm obstructing the womb with irregular menstruation and copious leukorrhea add Ligusticum (Chuan Xiong) and Angelica (Dang Gui).

12. For Phlegm and dryness together, substitute Trichosanthis (Gua Lou) and Fritillary Bulb (Chuan Bei Mu) for Pinellia (Ban Xia).

13. For dizziness or vertigo, headache, full, stifling feeling in the chest, nausea, vomiting, headache; Tongue: white greasy coat; Pulse: slippery, wiry or bowstring, add: Gastrodia (Tian Ma) and 1 slice of fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) and 3-4 pcs of Jujube Date (Da Zao). This becomes Pinellia and Gastrodia Combination (Ban xia bai zhu tian ma tang)*. It is used to dry and dissolve Phlegm and smooth the Liver and quiet Liver-Wind (antispasmodic).

This formula forms the basis for countless other combinations that deal with Phlegm and fluid accumulation or what in Ayurvedic medicine is called "kapha", or mucus humour.

For instance Six Gentlemen Decoction (Liu jun zi tang) combines Pinellia, Poria, Licorice and Citrus with Ginseng and White Atractylodes as a Spleen tonic. This reflects the relationship of the Spleen Qi to fluid metabolism.

Another variation is Pinellia and Gastrodia Combination that combines Gastrodia (Tian Ma) and Atractylodes (Bai Zhu) to calm Liver-Wind and dissolve Dampness. It is used for symptoms associated with dizziness, vertigo, heaviness of the head, headache, and other central neurological symptoms caused by Wind and Phlegm.

Minor Bupleurum (Xiao chai hu tang)*

Bupleurum (Chai Hu) 12-15gms Bupleurum falcatum

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 9-12gms Scutellaria baicalensis

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 9-12gms Pinellia ternata

Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) 3-6gms Zingiberis officinalis

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 6-9gms Panax ginseng

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Jujube Dates (Da Zao) 3-5pcs Zizyphus jujuba

Properties and Actions:

a) Treats the Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) channel (Gall Bladder and Triple Warmer)

b) Harmonizing: regulates the Liver and Spleen functions, addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Indications: Treats symptoms that may have begun with acute-External complex and have penetrated to an intermediate, lingering stage. Thus there may be alternating fever and chills, stuffy full feeling in the chest, bitter flavor in the mouth, dizziness, lack of appetite, fatigue and nausea. It can be used for lingering colds, coughs, bronchitis and asthma. Because of its broad action it can also be considered for conditions such as malaria, cholecystitis, hepatitis, jaundice and irregular menstruation. Recently it is being viewed as a good general immune tonic and has been studied and beneficially employed for the treatment of HIV and AIDS conditions.

Tongue: thin white coat

Pulse: wiry and tight


1. To strengthen immunity add Astragalus (Huang Qi) 9-12 gms, Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi) 6-9gms, Ligustrum (Nu Zhen Zi) 6-9gms.

2. For malaria add Dichroa Root (Chang Shan) and Cardamom Seed (Cao Guo).

3. For Yin Deficiency add Tortoise Shell (Bie Jia) and Wormwood (Qing Hao).

4. For bloating with abdominal pain add Corydalis (Yan Hu Suo), Cyperus (Xiang Fu) and Immature Bitter Orange (Zhi shi).

Jade Screen Powder (Yu ping feng san)

Astragalus (Huang Qi) 10-15gms Astragalus membranaceus

White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu) 9-12gms Atractylodes alba

Ledebouriella (Fang Feng) 9-12gms Ledebouriella seseloides

Properties and Actions:

a) Tonifies Qi, strengthens the Wei Qi

b) Internal Cold and Deficiency

c) Anti-hydrotic, corrects involuntary and spontaneous perspiration

Indications: For lowered body resistance to colds and flus, spontaneous and involuntary perspiration, pale complexion. It can be considered for common colds, influenza, allergic and chronic rhinitis.

Tongue: light red with a thin white coat

Pulse: weak and floating


1. For chronic or allergic rhinitis add Magnolia Flower (Xin Yi Hua) and Xanthium Fruit (Cang Er Zi).

2. For spontaneous perspiration add Ephedra Root (Ma Huang Gen) and Light wheat (Fu Xiao Mai: Triticum aestivum).

Ding chuan tang (Treat Asthma Decoction)

Ginkgo Seed (Bai Guo) 3-7pcs Ginkgo biloba

Ephedra (Ma Huang) 6-9gms Ephedra sinica

Perilla Seed (Zi Su Zi) 9-12gms Perilla frutescens

Tussilago (Kuan Dong Hua) 9-12gms Tussilago farfara

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 9-12gms Prunus armeniaca

Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi) 9-12gms Morus alba

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 6-9gms Scutellaria baicalensis

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 9-12gms Pinellia ternata

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Clears Lung Heat

b) Expectorant for asthma

Indications: Asthma caused by Heat in the Lung, chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pulmonary emphysema possibly with accompanying thirst, restlessness, fever, headache, spontaneous perspiration.

Tongue: red with yellow coat

Pulse: slippery and rapid

Eriobotrya and Ophiopogon Combination(Qing zao jiu fei tang)

Mulberry Leaf (Sang Ye) 3 gms Mori alba

Gypsum (Shi Gao) 10 gms Gypsum fibrosum

Gelatin (E Jiao) 2.4 gms Asini gelatinum corii

Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) 3.6 gms Ophiopogonis japonicus

Sesame (Hu Ma Ren) 2.4 gms Sesami indica

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 2 gms Panax Ginseng

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 2 gms Pruni Armeniacae

Eriobotrya (Pi Pa Ye) 3 gms Eriobotryae japonicae

Licorice (Gan Cao) 2 gms Glycyrrhizae uralensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Moistens the Lung and treats Dryness

b) Tonifies Qi

c) Lubricates, cools and nourishes Essence of the Lung

Indications: Symptoms include dry cough with no phlegm, fever, headache, dry throat and nostrils. May be considered for symptoms of upper respiratory infections, hemoptysis, cough with influenza, asthma.

Tongue: red and dry with a thin white coat

Pulse: weak, thin and thready

Ephedra Decoction (Ma huang tang)*

Ephedra(Ma Huang) 6-9gms Ephedra sinica

Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) 6-9gms Cinnamomum cassia

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 6-9gms Prunus armeniaca

Prepared Licorice (Zhi Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza Uralensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Warm stimulating diaphoretic

b) Dispels External Wind-Cold

c) Anti-asthmatic.

Indications: It is used for Greater Yang (Tai Yang) conditions, with Excess conformation, fever, chills with intolerance of Cold, lack of perspiration, general aching feeling throughout the body, headache, asthma. With appropriate presentation it can be considered for a wide variety of upper respiratory conditions including the common cold, asthma, cough and bronchitis.

Tongue: thin white coat

Pulse: floating and slow

Contraindications: It is a warming and stimulating formula and not suitable for those with Internal weakness and Deficiency or for those with the common cold caused by External Wind-Heat attack.


1. For arthritic Wind-Cold-Damp condition add White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu); this is called Ma huang jia zhu tang

2. For common cold with perspiration, headache, nasal obstruction, cough with phlegm, eliminate Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi). This is called San ao tang.

Ma Huang and Apricot Seed Combination (Ma xing shi gan tang) This contains Ephedra (Ma Huang), Apricot Seed (Xing Ren), Licorice (Gan Cao) and Gypsum (Shi Gao) 10-20gms. Because of the addition of Gypsum (Shi Gao) it relieves Internal Heat and thirst. It is useful for common cold with fever, pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, cardiac asthma, whooping cough, measles and hemorrhoids.

Ephedra, Aconite and Asarum Combination (Ma huang fu zi xi xin tang)

Ephedra (Ma Huang) 6-9gms Ephedra sinica

Prepared Aconite (Fu Zi) 3-6gms Aconitum carmichaeli

Wild Ginger (Xi Xin) 1-3gms Asarum heterotropoides

Properties and Actions:

a) Clears External Wind-Cold and induces diaphoresis

b) Tonifies Yang

Indications: For External Wind-Cold (common cold and influenza) with Yang Deficiency. This formula is indicated when there is Cold and Deficiency and may be tried when other formulas seem to be not strong enough. Symptoms include fever, severe cold intolerance, pale complexion, weakness and cold extremities.

Contraindication: Not for individuals with Yin Deficiency.

Major Blue Dragon (Da qing long tang) adds 10-20gms of Gypsum (Shi Gao) to help reduce Internal fever and Heat and 3-6gms of Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) to eliminate External Wind and Cold. It is for more severe fever with restless irritability, intolerance of Cold, headache, muscle-aches, lack of perspiration, asthma, thirst and edema. The pulse is floating, tight and possibly rapid. The tongue has a thin white or yellow coat. This contrasts with the indications of Minor Blue Dragon (Xiao qing long tang) with symptoms of less severe fever with watery phlegm, allergic rhinitis, labored asthmatic breathing
Ophiopogon Combination (Mai men dong tang)

Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) 15-20gms Ophiopogon japonicus

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 6-9gms Pinellia ternata

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 3-6gms Panax ginseng

Rice (Jing Mi) 15-20gms Oryza sativa

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Nourishes Stomach and Lung Yin

b) Antitussive, lowers the Qi

Indications: Cough with little or no phlegm, hiccup, thirst, dry throat. It can be considered for TB, wasting lung diseases with accompanying dryness, bronchitis.

Tongue: red tip

Pulse: weak and rapid


1. For Lung Yin Deficiency add Glehnia (Bei Sha Shen), Solomon's Seal (Yu Zhu), Asparagus Root (Tian Men Dong).

2. For Stomach Yin Deficiency add Dendrobium (Shi Hu) and Trichosanthes Root (Tian Hua Fen).

Ophiopogon and Trichosanthes Combination

(Mai men dong yin si)

Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) 7gms Ophiopogon japonicus

Pueraria (Ge Gen) 3gms Pueraria lobata

Licorice (Gan Cao) 1gms Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 2gms Panax ginseng

Unprepared Rehmannia (Sheng Di Huang) 4gms Rehmannia glutinosa

Trichosanthes Root (Tian hua fen) 2gms Trichosanthes kirilowii

Poria (Fu Ling) 6gms Poria cocos

Bamboo Leaf (Zhu Ye) 1gms Phylostachys nigra

Anemarrhena (Zhi Mu) 3gms Anemarrhena asphodeloides

Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi) 1gms Schizandra chinensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Expectorant

b) Tonifies the Yin of the Lung

Indications: It clears evil Phlegm and moistens Dryness of the Lung. It can be used for chronic bronchitis, tuberculosis, chronic coughing, and coarse skin caused by diabetes.

Tongue: dry tongue with thin yellow coat

Pulse: rapid and thin

Ginseng and Astragalus Combination ( Bu zhong yi qi tang)*

Astragalus (Huang Qi) 6-15gms Astragalus membranaceus

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 6-9gms Panax ginseng

White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu) 9-12gms Atractylodes alba

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza uralensis

Dang Gui (Dang Gui) 6-9gms Angelica sinensis

Black Cohosh (Sheng Ma) 3-6gms Cimicifuga foetida

Bupleurum (Chai Hu) 6-9gms Bupleurum falcatum

Citrus Peel (Chen Pi) 3-6gms Citrus reticulata

Properties and Actions:

a) Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach

b) Raises the Yang

c) Detoxifies

Indications: It may be considered for chronic fatigue and weakness where sub-acute feverish or inflammatory symptoms arise as a result of physical exertion or stress. Symptoms include aversion to cold, poor appetite, preference for warmth including warm food and drink, general tiredness and weakness, shortness of breath, spontaneous perspiration, slow speech, a tendency to huddle up, thirst, loose stool. The complexion tends to be shiny and pale, the tongue light with a thin white coat and the pulse weak and inflated.

This is traditionally considered the supreme tonic of Chinese herbalism. Besides tonifying Qi and Blood, the addition of Bupleurum (Chai Hu) and Cimicifuga(Sheng Ma) combine both anti-inflammatory properties with ascending qualities, which assists the Yang. The formula is designed to treat a condition of exhaustion where the Yang of the Middle and Upper Warmer collapses down into the Yin of the Lower Warmer. The result is a weakening of the immune system where energetically the Yang is unable to circulate and ascend so that it is unable to adequately protect itself from External pathogenic influences. The formula is therefore indicated for intermittent fevers and prolapse and perhaps bleeding of the Internal organs because of weakness and exhaustion.

Tongue: Pale, scalloped on the edges

Pulse: Thin and weak

Lonicera and Forsythia Combination (Yin qiao san) *

Honeysuckle and Forsythia Powder (Yin Qiao San)

Source: Systematic Differentiation of Warm diseases (Wen bing tiao bian)

Honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua) 9-15gms Lonicera japonicae

Forsythiae (Lian Qiao) 9-15gms Forsythia suspensae

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 3-6gms Platycodon grandiflori

Burdock Seed (Niu Bang Zi) 9-12gms Arctii lappa

Field Mint (Bo He) 3-6gms Mentha haplocalycis

Schizonepetae (Jing Jie) 6-9gms Schizonepetae tenuifoliae

Prepared Soybeans (Dan Dou Chi) 3-6gms Glycine max

Black Bamboo Leaf (Dan Zhu Ye) 3-6gms Lophatheri gracilis

Phragmitis (Sheng Lu Gen) 15-30gms Phragmitis communis

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6 gms Glycyrrhizae uralensis

Preparation: Originally it was prepared by first cooking the Phragmitis (Lu Gen) long enough for the aroma to become strong. The other herbs are ground into a powder and taken in 9gm doses with the decoction. Today the entire formula is taken in decoction, or more commonly it is taken in patent pill form. If cooking, only add Bo He Mint (Bo He) for the last five minutes.

Properties and Actions:

a) Diaphoretic, disperses External Wind-Heat

b) Alterative, antibiotic and antiviral, clears Internal Heat and relieves toxicity

Indications: It can be used for upper respiratory tract infections, colds, influenza with fever with slight or no chills, headache, thirst, cough, sore throat, acute bronchitis, measles, epidemic parotitis, acute endometritis, and early stage encephalitis or meningitis.

Tongue: red tipped with a thin, white or yellow coat

Pulse: rapid and floating

Note: This is a cooling formula with some mild nourishing properties. One practitioner favors its use along with or in place of antibiotic drugs when they are to be taken long term as in the treatment of certain venereal diseases and Lyme's disease.

Contraindications: It is contraindicated for colds and influenza caused by Wind-Cold. For this condition, one should consider using Nine Ingredients with Notopterygium (Jiu wei qiang huo tang). It is also not effective for Damp-Heat syndromes for which one would consider Gentiana Combination (Long dan xie gan tang).

Variation: For severe colds and flus add 9-12 grams of Notopterygium (Qiang Huo) and 20-30gms of Isatis (Ban Lan Gen).

Morus and Chrysanthemum Combination (Sang ju yin)*

Mulberry Leaf (Sang Ye) 6-9gms Morus Alba

Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) 3-6gms Chrysanthemum morifolium

Mentha (Bo He) 3-6gms Mentha arvensis

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 6-9gms Prunus Armeniaca

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9gms Platycodon grandiflorum

Forsythia (Lian Qiao) 6-9gms Forsythia Suspensa

Phragmites (Lu Gen) 6-9gms Phragmites communis

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6gms Glycyrrhiza Uralensis

Properties and Actions:

a) Cooling diaphoretic

b) Dispels Wind-Heat

c) Antitussive, relieves cough

Indications: Wind-Heat conditions with symptoms of the common cold, influenza, coughs, acute stages of bronchitis and throat infections, conjunctivitis.

Tongue: thin white coat

Pulse: floating and rapid

Contraindications: Not for upper respiratory conditions associated with Wind-Cold.

Xanthium Powder (Cang er san)

Xanthium Fruit (Cang Er Zi) 6-9gms Xanthium sibiricum

Magnolia Flower (Xin Yi Hua) 3-6gms Magnolia officinalis

Angelica (Bai Zhi) 3-6gms Angelica dahurica

Mint (Bo He) 3-6gms Mentha haplocalyx

Properties and Actions:

a) Disperses Wind

b) Opens the nasal passages

Indications: Relieves allergy symptoms and opens the sinuses. It is useful for nasal sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, relieves temporal and frontal headaches.

Tongue: white coat

Pulse: floating

Note: The Magnolia Flowers (Xin Yi Hua) and Mint (Bo He) should not be boiled, rather they should be added in at the end of the preparation.


1. For increased Lung inflammation add Lycium Bark (Di Gu Pi) and Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi).

2. For excessive nasal discharge add Honeysuckle (Jin Yin Hua), Centipeda (E Bu Shi Cao) and Licorice (Gan Cao).

Magnolia Flower Powder (Xin Yi San)

Xin Yi Hua (flow Magnoliae), Angelicae dahuricae (Bai Zhi), Ligustici sinensis (Gao Ben), Ledebouriella (Fang Feng), Ligusticum Wallichii Chuan xiong), Asarum ((xi Xin), Akebiae (Mu tong), licorice (Gan cao), Green tea leaf (Ch Ye) -- Indicate for colds and allergies that are worse in cold weather, superficial early stage attack of cold evil, everything goes to the head, sinus congestion.

Rehmannia Six (Liu wei di huang wan)*

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) 20-30gms Rehmannia glutinosa

Cornus (Shan Zhu Yu) 10-15gms Cornus officinalis

Dioscorea (Shan Yao) 10-15gms Dioscorea opposita

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) 9-12gms Alisma plantago-aquatica

Moutan Peony (Mu Dan Pi)6-9gms Paeonia suffruticosa

Poria (Fu Ling) 9-12gms Poria cocos

Properties and Actions:

a. Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)

Indications: Formula for Kidney Yin, Essence Deficiency. This formula and its companion Rehmannia Eight (which, with the mere addition of Prepared Aconite (Fu zi) and Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) is a Kidney Yang tonic) are good for retarded growth or mal-development in children and all chronic degenerative diseases.

Symptoms of Yin Deficiency may include dizziness, tinnitus, chronic sore throat, afternoon tidal fevers, night sweats and spontaneous emissions, thirst and dryness, burning sensation in the palms, soles and chest and toothache.

It is useful for a variety of Deficiency conditions including lower back pain, pulmonary tuberculosis, various eye disorders, chronic urinary infections, hypertension, Addison's disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, retarded growth and difficulty in maintaining health, tinnitus and deafness.

Tongue: reddish and with a shiny appearance

Pulse: thin and rapid

Contraindication: Not for a person with weak digestion or a lack of Yang


1. For Yin Deficiency with Fire and severe inflammation add Anemarrhena (Zhi Mu) and Phellodendron (Huang Bai) and substitute Unprepared Rehmannia for Prepared Rehmannia. This formula, called Anemarrhena, Phellodendron with Rehmannia Six (Zhi bai di huang wan), is for inflammation and Heat conditions associated with constitutional Yin Deficiency.

2. For visual weakness add Lycii Berries (Gou Qi Zi) and Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua). This is Lycium, Chrysanthemum and Rehmannia Six Combination (Qi ju di huang wan).

3. For consumptive Lung disorders with cough add Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) and Schizandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi).

4. For Yang Deficiency add Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) and Prepared Aconite (Fu Zi). This becomes Rehmannia Eight Combination (Ba wei di huang wan or what is also known as Jin gui shen qi wan), one of the classic Kidney Yang tonic formulas.

Manna for Detoxification Pill (Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan)

Talc (Hua Shi) 15-20 gm.

Capillaris (Yin Chen Hao) 10-15 gm.

Akebia (Mu Tong) 5-10 gm

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 10-15 gm

Forsythia (Lian Qiao) 5-10 gm

Fritillary (Chuan Bei Mu 5-10 gm

Belamcanda (She Gan) 5-10 gm

Acorus (Shi Chang Pu) 6-10 gm

Agastache (Huo Xiang) 5-10 gm

Mentha (Bo He) 3-6 gm

Cluster (Bai Dou Kou) 5-10 gm

Properties and Actions:

Resolves dampness and turbidity, clears Heat and toxins.


Interior Heat and Qi Dampness. Fever, malaise, fullness and distention in the chest and abdomen, sore throat, jaundice, thirst, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, amber colored urine.

Tongue: white or yellow and greasy coating

Pulse: soft and rapid

Contraindications: for a person with strong constitution.

Ginseng and Mentha Formula (Ren Shen Bai Du San)

Notopteryium (Qiang Huo) 6-9 gm

Angelica (Du Huo) 6-9 gm

Ligusticum (Chuan Xiong) 6-9 gm

Bupleurum (Chai Hu) 6-9 gm

Mentha (Bo He) 3-6 gm

Bitter orange (Zhi Ke) 6-9 gm

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9 gm

Peucedanum (Qian Hu) 6-9 gm

Poria (Fu Ling) 6-9 gm

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 3-6 gm

Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) 3-6 gm

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6 gm

Properties and Actions:

Dispels external Wind, Cold and Dampness; replenishes Qi.


Qi Deficiency with Wind Cold and Dampness. High fever, aversion to cold, no perspiration, headache, neck pain, muscle-ache, stuffy nose, cough with sputum, fullness sensation in the chest and epigastric region.

Tongue: white greasy coating

Pulse: floating, feeble

Platycodon and Schizonepeta Formula (Zhi Sou San)

Aster root (Zi Wan) 6-9 gm

Semona root (Bai Bu) 6-9 gm

Cynanchum root (Bai Qian) 6-9 gm

Citrus peel (Chen Pi) 3-6 gm

Schizonepeta (Jing Jie) 6-9 gm

Platycodon (Ji Geng) 6-9 gm

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-6 gm

Properties and Actions:

Relieves cough and sputum, and dispels the Exterior Lung Wind.


Cough with sputum sore throat, fever, intolerance of wind.

Tongue: whitish with thin coating

Pulse: floating

Ginseng and Scute Combination (Ren Shen Xie Fei Tang)

Ginseng (Ren Shen) 6-9gm

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 6-9gm

Gardenia (Shan Zhi Zi) 3-6gm

Fructus Aurantii (Zi Ke) 3-6gm

Mint (Bo He) 3gm

Forsythia (Lian Qiao) 3-6gm

Apricot seed (Xing Ren) 3-6gm

Mulberry bark(Sang Bai Pi) 6-9gm

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9gm

Rhubarb (Da Huang) 3-6gm

Licorice root (Gan Cao) 3gm

Clear Lung Decoction/Platycodon and Fritillaria Combination (Qing Fei Tang)

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 6-9gm

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 3-6gm

Fritillaria (Zhe Bei Mu) 6-9gm

Bamboo (Zhu Ru) 6-9gm

Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) 6-9gm

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3gm

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9gm

Gardenia (Zhi Si) 4-6gm

Citrus (Chen Pi) 4-6gm

Hoelen (Fu Ling) 6-9gm

Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi) 6-9gm

Morus (Sang Bai Pi 6-9gm)

Asparagus (Tian Men Dong) 6-9gm

Jujube (Da Zao) 4-6 pieces

Angelica (Dang Gui) 4-6gms

Ginger (Sheng Jiang) 4-6gms

Morus and Platycodon Formula (Du Sou San)

Bupleurum (Chai Hu) 6-9gms

Morus (Sang Bai Pi) 6-9gms

Gypsum (Shi Gao)` 9-15gms

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9gms

Gardenia (Zhi Zi) 4-6gms

Scutellaria (Huang Qin) 6-9gms

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-gms

Clearing Away Lung Phlegm Decoction (Qing Fei Yin)

Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) 6-9gms

Fritillaria (Zhi Bei Mu) 6-9gms

Poria (Fu Ling) 6-9gms

Platycodon (Jie Geng) 6-9gms

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-4gms

Schisandra (Wu Wei Zi) 6-9gms

Citrus peel (Ju Hong) 3-6gms

Fresh Ginger (Sheng jiang) 3-6gms

Function: Clears phlegm from the lungs but it will also moisten the lung and lubricate dry throat.

Bupleurum and Evodia Combination (Shu Gan Tang)

Bupleurum :(Chai Hu) 6-9gms

Peony (Bai Shao) 6-9gms

Coptis (Huang Lian) 6-9gms

Blue citrus peel (Qing Pi) 6-9gms

Angelica (Dang Gui) 6-9gms

Ligusticum (Chuan Xiong) 6-9gms

Carthamus (Hong Hua) 4-6gms

Persica (Tao Ren) 4-6gms

Fructus Aurantii (need common name) (Zi Ke) 4-6gms

Evodia (Wu Zhu Yu) 4-6gms

Hoelen and Schizandra (Ling Gan Jiang Wei Xin Xia Ren Tang)

Hoelen (Fu Ling) 6-9gms

Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi) 6-9gms

Apricot seed (Xing Ren) 4-6gms

Licorice (Gan Cao) 3-4gms

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 6-9gms

Ginger (Gan Jiang) 4-6gms

Asarum (Xi Xin) 4-6gms

Schizonepeta and Pinellia Formula (Jin Fei Cao San)

Inula (Xuan Fu Hua) 6-9gms

Hoelen (Poria Cocos) 6-9gms

Ephedra (Ma Huang) 6-9gms

Licorice (Gan Cao) 4-6gms

Peucedanum (Qian Hu) 6-9gms

Schizonepeta (Jing Jie 6-9gms

Jujube (Da Zao) 4-6 pieces

Asarum (Xi Xin) 3-6gms

Pinellia (Ban Xia) 6-9gms

Ginger (Sheng Jiang) 6-9gms

Peony (Chi Shao) 6-9gms

Phellodendron Combination (Zhi Yin Jiang Hou Tang)

Angelica (Dang Gui) 6-9gms

Asparagus (Tian Men Dong) 6-9gms

Atractylodes (Bai Zhu) 6-9gms

Phellodendron (Huang Bai) 6-9gms

Peony (Bai Shao) 6-9gms

Ophiopogon (Mai Men Dong) 6-9gms

Anemarrhena (Zhi Mu) 6-9gms

Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) 6-9gms

Citrus (Chen Pi) 6-9gms

Licorice (Gan Cao) 4-6gms

Jujube (Da Zao) 4-6 pieces

Ginger (Sheng Jiang)



Dr. Michael Tierra L.Ac. , OMD




Ma huang, Elecampane, Mullein, Wild cherry bark, Licorice, Platycodon root and extract, Ginger, Cinnamon twigs, Wild ginger root.

This formula is dispersing, decongesting, and good for colds, flu, allergies, asthma, and most upper respiratory problems. It has a neutral to warm energy.

Dosage: Take two or more tablets three or more times daily with warm water. For springtime allergies take three or four tablets at a time. It is also excellent as a general treatment for smokers to help offset the harmful effects on the lungs.

This is one of the most reliable herbal formulas for the relief of asthma and emphysema as well as upper respiratory allergies. Mahuang (Ephedra sinensis) is a primary for the treatment of upper respiratory disorders. It aids in the movement and circulation of Lung qi and as such is effective for rhinitis, allergies, emphysema, asthma and all lung conditions caused by the obstruction of cold. It contains potent natural alkaloids, ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine, which are used to stimulate the dilation of the bronchioles. Platycodon root, a beautiful Chinese herb that is grown as an ornamental in the west opens and circulates Lung qi and helps expel phlegm. It is very effective for the treatment of all phlegm disorders and cough. Elecampane root has a rich tradition of medicinal usage for the treatment of whooping cough, asthma, bronchitis and acts as both a digestive tonic and expectorant. Wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) is derived from the green bark of the tree and has a long-time reputation as a sedative on the respiratory nerves that initiate the cough reflex. It is thought that this property is due to the presence of a non-toxic cyanic compound called prunasin. Wild ginger (Asarum sp.) and cinnamon twigs (Cinnamomum ceylanicum) are warming and circulating and aid expectoration. Licorice is added to ameliorate the effects of the more stimulating herbs in the formula such as mahuang and wild ginger.



Old Indian Herbal Syrup

Yerba santa, Echinacea root, Osha, Grindelia, Elecampane root and flowers, Wild ginger (Asarum), White Horehound, Hyssop, Platycodon, White pine bark, Licorice root, Polypodium, Marshmallow root, Xing ren (bitter almond), Irish moss, Mullein, Nettles, Ephedra, Loquat leaf, Fritillary and wild Cherry bark extracted in water, honey, and 20% alcohol.

A decongesting and soothing expectorant syrup for coughs and sore throat. It can be taken freely as needed.

This syrup evolved in homage to the rich herbal tradition of the Native Americans. The original formula evolved strictly from Native herbs selected from the low coastal Santa Cruz Mountains of Northern California. One of the most famous indigenous herbs of the area is Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californicum). Once listed in the official USP National Formulary VI, the leaves are expectorant, bronchial antispasmodic for asthma, colds and all upper respiratory infections associated with excess mucus. The leaves are antibacterial and contain potent resins and eriodin, which is especially effective against gram-positive bacteria and tuberculosis bacteria. Grindelia (G. robusta) also known as gumweed contains a resin and grindelic acid that has a native and early American history of use as an expectorant and antispasmodic. These two herbs are balanced and combined with a number of others from the Western and Chinese herbal traditions which results in one of the most effective and popular cough syrups. It is pleasant tasting and can be safely and freely taken by individuals of all ages.

Elderberry Syrup: Elderberry concentrate in a base of honey, water and alcohol (20%). Full Spectrum Elderberry Extract: 525 mg of the berries and flowers of Elder concentrated in an Elderberry and flower tea decoction.

WELL CHILD (Children's Elderberry Cold and Flu syrup)

Elderberry Extract, Honeysuckle blossoms, Cinnamon twigs, Lemon balm, Chamomile, Echinacea, Catnip, Licorice, Vitamin C, Potassium sorbate.

Black Elder berries (Sambucus nigra) and flowers are one of the time honored for influenza and the common cold. So great were the remedial powers of the elder that it was called "the medicine chest of the country people" (Ettmueller) and 'a whole magazine of physic to rustic practitioners.' The famous physician, Boerhaave, had such a high regard for its manifold curative properties that it is said that he never passed an Elder without raising his hat.

It is regarded as the most sacred herb of the gypsies and indeed, there is hardly a more fascinating herb steeped with ancient lore than the elder. In the mid-1980's upon the suggestion of Dr. Jean Lindenman, the developer of interferon, that researchers confirmed the active anti-influenza ingredients in elderberry. They found that the bioflavonoids in elderberry were able to bind and disarm the tiny viral spikes called hemagglutinin which are covered with an enzyme called neuraminidase that allow viruses to invade by piercing a cell's membrane. Later, in 1992 a team of Israeli scientists and physicians formulated a syrup and a lozenge that contained elderberry. They found that the syrup worked in the laboratory with most common strains of viruses. They were subsequently approved by the Helsinki committee, a worldwide organization that approves patient studies, to carry out a double blind clinical study of patients infected with the flu virus during an epidemic in southern Israel. Half of the patients were given four tablespoons of the syrup per day and the other half a placebo. The results were that within twenty-four hours, the symptoms of fever, cough, and muscle pain had improved in 20% of the patients. After the second day, another 75% were much improved and in three days a complete cure was effected in 90% of the patients studied. This was highly significant compared with the control group who had not taken elderberry syrup were only 8% of patients showed improvement after 24 hours and for the remainder, it took 6 days to show improvement in the remaining 92%.

Further tests were conducted on patients to determine the presence of influenza antibodies. Antibodies are substances the body naturally manufactures to combat invading pathogens such as cold and flu viruses. It was found that patients who took the elderberry extract had a higher level of cold and flu antibodies, which indicated an enhanced immune system response.

Viruses cause both colds and flus. Typically influenza is characterized by high fever while colds are without fever. Influenza is therefore, an acute febrile infection with Type A and B viruses that tend to outbreak every winter. The attack rate may be as high as 40% of the population over a five to six week period. Influenza represents the most common epidemic that occurs yearly and for many, especially the elderly can result in death as a result of pulmonary complications.

So far there has been no significantly successful treatment in mainstream medicine to doing more than affording temporary symptomatic relief for these, easily the most troublesome of all recurring diseases. Because the antigens of these viruses easily change form each year, the population has little or no resistance to the disease.

These products combine both the berries with the flowers. Elder flowers are a popular herbal treatment for all bronchial and pulmonary affections, scarlet fever, measles and other eruptive diseases. They are a good old-fashioned remedy for colds and throat trouble, taken hot on going to bed. The combination of the berries with the flowers in these products as well as other herbs to enhance the anti-biotic and antiviral effects makes these two of the very best herbs for the treatment of the common cold and influenza. Their mildness and delicious flavor should make them perfect to administer to young children suffering from these conditions.



Equal parts Ginger root, Piper nigrum, Bibo (Piper longum), Honey

This formula has a hot, spicy energy and is dispersing and drying for damp conditions. It helps overcome mucus (making it very useful for allergies), treats colds, helps reduce fat, aids digestion and circulation, and warms internally. A specific remedy for clear damp discharges that often occur in cold, damp climates, it should be taken by nearly everyone living in such environments and then suspended during the warm summer months. It is also good for stomach pains caused by coldness.

Dosage: Take one or two tablets three times a day. Cut down on overall fluid intake.




Lonicera, Forsythia, Mint, Phragmites, Arctium, Platycodon, Prepared Sojae, Licorice, Schizonepeta, Lophatherum

This is the classic formula combines antibacterial and antiviral properties and can be used for the treatment of colds and flus caused by "wind-heat" with symptoms of high fever and sore throat. It can also be taken long term for the treatment of Lyme's disease.

Yin Chiao Plus

Phragmites, Lonicera, Forsythia, Notopterygium, Echinacea root, Schizonepeta, Burdock seed, Bamboo leaf, Horehound, Boneset, Semen sojae, Platycodon, Isatis root, Isatis leaf, Elecampane, Licorice & Mint

This is a variation of the famous Yin Chiao Classic and combines Western herbs including echinacea together with the famous Chinese formula to provide a wider application for the treatment of colds and flus.

Prevention of colds and flus


Immune system tonic for the prevention of colds and flus

Astragalus, Atractylodes alba, Ledebouriella

This Chinese herb food is for the immune system and internal coldness. Tonifying the immune system, it protects the body from sickness. It energizes and warms all the internal vital organs, strengthens the qi of protection (Wei qi) and is good for general poor health with frequent colds, flus and a tendency to sickness, perspiration from weakness and poor health. It is a delicious tonic suitable for young and old and is generally safe to take year round on a regular basis. Remember that most warm-natured tonics are not taken during active acute inflammatory conditions unless specially prescribed.

Dosage: One half to one teaspoon once or twice daily.

Other herbs:

Respiratory herbs: lobelia inflata and ephedra sinica.

Mucilaginous herbs: marshmallow root, licorice, comfrey, slippery elm, ophiopogon, asparagus root, coltsfoot, mullein

Expectorants: lobelia, ipecacuanha, elecampane and hyssop

Khella (Ammi visnaga)

Its use in the Middle East dates back centuries, but in modern times it was first noted in the early 1930's, when it was observed in controlled settings to relax the spasm in muscle fibers caused by kidney stones and thereby reduce pain. It was subsequently found to be capable of dilating the coronary arteries and thereby reduce the pain of angina pectoris.

It was then researched in England for potential use as a drug to treat angina. Khella in strong enough doses to form a drug for angina also had potentially dangerous side effects, such as nausea and vomiting. The researchers then sought to detoxify the plant. By accident they discovered a certain constituent called khellin, which had antiasthma actions. It also seemed to be able to prevent asthma attacks. Further research revealed that the best preparation was two chromone molecules hooked together across and oxygen bridge. The chromone molecule was nothing more than the khellin itself. It was called cromolyn sodium.

As a result there has been a whole period of research on khella which culminated in the production of various drugs containing cromolyn sodium, which has been found to be effective in preventing asthma attachds, especially in childhood asthma. They also prevent allergic reactions, hay fever, and related conditions. They will not, however, stop an asthma attack.

As a result there are a number of European and American products and extracts that use khella and are purported to be able to prevent asthma attacks without the side effects of the whole plant.

Most common upper respiratory herbs:

Ephedra, lobelia inflata and coltsfoot

Mucilaginous plants: marshmallow, coltsfoot, mullein, plantain

Expectorant plants: lobelia, ipecacuanha, elecampane

Antibiotic herbs include Thyme and petasites.

Cough remedies include poppy and celandine

Khella (Ammi visnaga) The source for the asthma preventive drug called cromolyn sodium. Considerable western research since the 30's has established its use to treat angina because it dilates the coronary arteries and prevent asthma. It is now available homeopathically and in various preparations as an asthma preventive.

Garlic (allium sativum)

Was described by Dioscorides according to the doctrine of signatures. This is the idea that the medicinal properties of a plant will reveal its properties symbolically by its outer form. Garlic had a hollow stalk so it would be good for diseases of the windpipe.

Garlic is natural antibiotic without any of the deleterious side effects of drug antibiotics. During the great plague people in Europe ate huge amounts of garlic and wore it to protect themselves from the ravages of the disease. It worked. Some took advantage of this fact by wearing the garlic and robbing the dead victims. While missing the plague they did not miss the hangman's noose.

Garlic lowers serum cholesterol, and triglycerides, raises HDL and is therefore effective for preventing coronary heart disease. It dissolves LDL (harmful) cholesterol and lowers triglycerides while increasing HDL (beneficial) cholesterol levels.

It owes most of its aroma to allicin which is produced when garlic is crushed or bruised and there is a subsequent enzyme action of allinase on alliin (a sulfur containing amino acid). Most of the beneficial effects of garlic are considered to be from its sulfur compounds which help the plant to ward off destructive insects.

Garlic stimulates the lymphatic system and helps it to throw off toxins. It has a long used in treating upper respiratory problems of all kinds. A combination of garlic, vitamin C and Cayenne taken at the first sign of a cold is very effective to prevent its onslaught. It is a superior expectorant, helping to expel phlegm from the lungs. It also protects against cancer-causing agents from pollution and bad air. The Russians call garlic "Russian penicillin." It improves circulation and stimulates the immune system. It contains anti-coagulant that normalizes blood platelet adhesion by reducing the "stickiness of the blood." It is a potent antifungal even more powerful than the drug Nystatin. Garlic taken by mouth and as an enema is an effective anti-parasite herb.


Lesley Tierra L.Ac

Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have long been viewed as two distinct and divergent medicines. Their approaches to physiology and healing appear quite different in perspective. While Western medicine separates the various systems and organs of the body and delves deeper and deeper into the particles that comprise matter, Chinese medicine views the body and further, the whole person, as a unified organic whole. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects are all seen as interrelated and interdependent.

Western medicine treats illness by isolating the diseased area and giving drug medications to alter and counteract the individual problem. Chinese medicine treats illness by identifying which parts of the whole are out of balance and the resulting energy patterns they form. These are then treated with energetic therapies and herbal medications to correct the imbalance and bring the whole to stasis. While Western medicine derived its theory and treatments from dissection, microscopic analysis and chemical derivations, Chinese medicine developed mainly through thousands of years of observation, not only of the human body, but its relationship to nature and the universe.

Despite the fact that both medicines had a unique historical development and approach healing from a distinctly different perspective, it is fascination to discover actual correspondences between the two, which can allow their differences to assume more complementary roles. Ironically, it is Western medicine, which is helping to bridge this gap, as its well developed technology is now able to corroborate what 5000 years of TCM has known all along. From this we may create a common understanding of the two medicines and learn not only alternative natural therapies to Western drugs, but also how the Chinese treat Western "incurable" diseases and energy imbalances which respond poorly to Western medications.

The TCM spleen as the source of energy derived from food and fluid is one of the most important organ systems and makes a good study to appreciate the similarities and differences between the two systems. At first glance it appears there are no correspondences at all, but upon deeper examination we learn that it is only terminology and perspective which mask their underlying similarities. To compare them, however, it is necessary to look beyond the spleen itself in Western medicine to other physiological processes in the body. Because in Chinese medicine the body is seen as an interrelated whole, functions of an organ actually occur on a cellular level throughout the entire body. To compare this with the Western definition of an organ it is thus necessary to look at several processes and cellular constituents as well as the spleen itself.

To inspect these similarities we will first review the Western understanding of the spleen and then a comparison with the Chinese view. Next we will compare them and give the TCM treatment strategies for spleen imbalances. Perhaps through more inspection of these seeming differences between contemporary Western and traditional Chinese medicines, we can ultimately come to a more integrated approach to health and healing based upon traditional and contemporary principles.



In Western medicine the spleen is considered to be part of the lymphatic system in the body. This system is comprised of lymph and lymph vessels, nodes and organs - the tonsils, thymus gland and spleen. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to drain from the tissue spaces protein-containing fluid which escapes from blood capillaries, transport fats from the digestive tract to the blood to produce lymphocytes and develop immunities, and for the lymph organs to filter lymph and add white blood cells () and antibodies ().

The spleen has several functions in Western medicine:

a. defense

b. phagocytosis of bacteria and worn-out red blood cells and platelets, salvaging iron and globulin content and returning them to the blood

c. production of lymphocytes, monocytes and plasma cells, which in turn produce antibodies

d. store blood and release it through contraction of the spleen or in case of hemorrhage

e. production of red blood cells in the fetus but not adults.


Because the TCM definition of the spleen functions includes the digestive processes and functions, which occur on a cellular level throughout the body, we need to look at both these aspects in Western medicine also. In terms of the western view of digestion, food is digested in the stomach and passed on to the small intestines where the nutrients in the food are absorbed and distributed to all tissues and cells of the body through the blood circulation. Energy is then produced through biological oxidation of foods primarily in the mitochondria of the cells.


We now look within the cells themselves in Western medicine to obtain an overall body view. Scattered throughout the plasma in cells are organelles called mitochondria. These are called "the powerhouses of the cells" because they produce most of the form of chemical energy used by the cells. The mitochondria are important in the Krebs cycle in the body, a series of energy-yielding steps in the catabolism of carbohydrates. The enzymes for this pathway are in the mitochondria matrix, and they catalyze oxidation reactions that form ATP, an energy carrying molecule (), in the Krebs Cycle.

This cycle occurs as follows: the catabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins transfers energy to the ATP bio-molecule through enzymes and an oxidation process. It does this in two places, in the cytoplasm and in the mitochondria. The latter is the most important place as it accounts for 95% of ATP molecules from glucose breakdown and 100% from fatty acid breakdown. Thus, food is catabolized and energy from it is captured and put into the ATP bio-molecule. The rest of the energy is released as heat that keeps our bodies warm. Then when ATP breaks down, it releases energy for cellular work. Overall, the Krebs cycle provides energy and heat for the body's many processes, and the mitochondria are key to this process.


There are several diseases recognized by Western medicine that involve the Spleen. These include mononucleosis, leukemia, splenomegaly, Hodgkin's disease, AIDS and all the various types of anemia's. In general these include an elevation of white bloods cells and/or insufficient production of red blood cells, lymph disorders and depressed or impaired immunity.


The spleen is seen as a paired complex in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) of the Earth element, the spleen being the yin component and the stomach being the yang. They work together and imply the other's functions. Because the spleen is the deeper yin organ where the energy of food and fluid is transformed, it is the more vital of the pair and so the one most often referred to. In TCM the spleen has the following functions:

a. Rules the transformation and transportation of food and fluids in the body. The spleen transforms food to extract the energy from it and then transports the resulting food "energy" to various organs and parts of the body where the body's energy and blood are produced. Thus, the spleen is seen as the basis for the production of energy and blood in the entire body. The spleen also controls transformation, separation and movement of fluids. It separates the usable and the unusable from the fluids ingested and these are then transported to their appropriate places. Thus it plays a central role in nourishing the body and promoting development.

b. Governs the blood. The spleen keeps he blood circulating in the vessels. It also provides the extracted energy from food and sends it to the heart to be mixed with Kidney energy to form blood.

c. Rules the muscles, flesh and the four limbs. It does this by transporting the body's energy and blood to the muscles, flesh, arms and legs. Consequently, overall muscle tone, strength and appearance, especially that of the arms and legs, reflects the health of the spleen.

d. Opens into the mouth and it's brilliance is manifested in the lips. Chewing prepares food for its digestion. If the spleen is healthy there is a good sense of taste and all five tastes can be distinguished. Further, the lips are moist and rosy.

e. Raises the qi. The spleen qi produces a lifting effect along the midline of the body and keeps the internal organs in place so they do not sag or prolapse.

f. Rules thought. The spleen influences our capacity for thinking, studying, focusing, concentration and memorizing.


General signs of spleen dysfunction include:

1. Abdominal distention, aching or pain relieved by local warmth and pressure

2. Lack of appetite and flat taste in the mouth

3. Abdominal flatulence after meals, aggravated by stress

4. Abnormal stool such as water, first well-shaped then loose,

loose, well-shaped and loose alternatively, or diarrhea.

5. Chronic hemorrhage or blood in the stool, vomit, mucus or under the skin, not caused by blood heat evils and trauma

6. Sallow complexion or pale lips

7. Pale and swollen tongue, or with teeth marks on its margin

8. Emaciation, or puffy appearance

9. Weakness in the arms and legs or muscles.

Specifically these signs of dysfunction can be grouped into energy patterns. Each of these is comprised of specific signs and symptoms and each is then treated accordingly.

Signs of deficient spleen qi ():

No appetite, abdominal distention after eating, spirit-lessness, tiredness, lethargy, lassitude not caused by stagnation of dampness or physical stress, sallow complexion, weakness of the arms and legs, visceroptosis or rectal prolapse or hemorrhoids, debilitated defecation, defecating without stool or defecating immediately after meals, loose stools, sleepiness after eating, hallow pulse, slow and weak pulse or feeble and hollow pulse, tongue swollen with scallops of the side in the middle section.

Signs of deficient spleen yang ():

Lack of appetite, abdominal distention and/or pain, especially after eating, tiredness, sallow or bright white complexion, weakness of the four limbs, loose stools or watery stools with undigested food in them, edema, chilliness, cold limbs, pale, swollen and moist tongue and weak, slow and deep pulse.

Spleen energy sinking:

Signs of spleen qi deficiency plus a bearing down sensation in the abdomen, prolapse of the stomach, uterus, anus, or vagina, frequency and urgency of urination, extreme chronic diarrhea, a pale tongue and empty or weak pulse.

Spleen not controlling the blood:

Signs of spleen qi deficiency plus bleeding in general, purpura, blood spots under the skin, blood in urine or stools, hemorrhage, menorrhagia, sallow complexion and shortness of breath, pale tongue and fine pulse.

Cold-damp invading the spleen:

No appetite, feeling of cold in the epigastrium which improves with warmth, feeling of heaviness or stuffiness in the head, chest and/or epigastrium, sweet taste in the mouth or absence of taste, no thirst, loose-thin stools, white vaginal discharge, lassitude, rumbling intestines, abdominal pain, sticky thick white coating on the tongue and a slippery, slow pulse.

Damp-heat invading the spleen

Stuffiness in the epigastrium and lower abdomen, no appetite, feeling of heaviness, thirst without desire to drink or with a desire to drink small sips, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loose stools with offensive odor, burning sensation of the anus, scanty and dark yellow urination, low grade fever, headache, sticky yellow tongue coating and slippery and rapid pulse.


There are many comparisons of the spleen between Western medicine and TCM, and they are best shown by following the various functions of the spleen in TCM.

a) The Spleen rules transformation and transportation of food and fluids in the body.

A combined Western medicine/TCM study () done in China yielded surprising results in the connection between the spleen in both medicines. In the study samples of the gastric mucosa were taken from a variety of people who were identified with the various TCM patterns of spleen dysfunction. These were then compared with gastric mucosa samples of people with no TCM symptoms of spleen dysfunction. Those with spleen symptoms all showed similar results.

The conclusion found that the spleen in TCM is closely related to the mitochondria. To see this graphically, the digestive process between Western medicine and TCM is as follows:

TCM View of the Spleen

Food --- stomach (decomposing) --- small intestine (digesting and distinguishing the refined substance from the dross) --- upward transport of the essence --- spleen (transporting and transforming) --- vital energy (qi)

Modern Medicine View of the Spleen

Food --- stomach (mechanical digestion mainly) --- small intestine (chemical digestion mainly and absorption of nutrients) --- blood (transportation) --- mitochondria (biological oxidation) --- energy

TCM = Modern Medicine:

Spleen (transporting and transforming) = mitochondria (biological oxidation)

Spleen Qi:

From this it is clear the function of the TCM spleen is quite similar to that of the mitochondria. In the study, deficient spleen qi patients experiencing abdominal flatulence, abnormal stools and undigested food in the stool after the intake of a high protein diet had obvious quantitative and qualitative changes of mitochondria and displayed a decreased number of the enzyme secreting cells (zymogen granules) necessary for normal digestion. A deficiency of spleen qi was thus found to correspond to an insufficiency of digestive enzymes and a reduction of enzyme activity, interfering with digestion of proteins. This digestion on the cellular level corresponds to the digestive process ruled by the spleen, that of transforming (essentially absorbing) and transporting (taking the nutrients to where they are needed).

Spleen Yang

A decrease in the number and quality of mitochondria also leads to less heat being created as a product of the ATP formation process. In turn this provides less "metabolic fires", resulting in poor absorption and transportation of nutrients to the cells. This heat released by ATP corresponds to the yang function in the body. In the TCM spleen this heat gives appetite, energy, digestive capacity, warmth, proper circulation of fluids and stool formation.

Spleen Dampness

When there is deficient spleen qi the fluid metabolism is interfered with and edema and swelling result. A function of the Western Spleen is to drain from tissue spaces protein-containing fluid which escapes from blood capillaries. In the cases of deficient spleen qi patients, the mitochondria of the stomach parietal cells were swollen. This may be a result of insufficient energy (poor mitochondria functioning) leading to an impediment of the sodium-potassium pump and resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the cells.

b. The spleen governs the blood

In TCM the spleen is a source of vital energy and blood and a controller of blood circulation. When spleen qi is weak it's blood controlling function is disturbed and bleeding results. Further, the production of blood and qi are decreased. In the blood routine examinations of patients with diarrhea attributive to the deficiency of spleen energy, there was revealed a decreased hemoglobin level. Other patients who had pale lips, sallow complexion and bleeding had fewer mitochondria in the parietal cells of the stomach and these had obviously damaged cristal membranes.

c. The spleen rules the muscles, flesh and four limbs (extremities)

When spleen energy is sufficient, blood and qi are well provided and muscles are brawny. Otherwise, they may be weak, thin, puffy or even emaciated. In the case study, deficient spleen qi patients had listlessness, tiredness, thin musculature and fewer mitochondria that had more evidence of damaged ridges. In those with muscular atrophy, the mitochondria were found to have broken ridges, defected membranes and faint stromas. Further, there was an impediment of energy metabolism in muscles with anti-mitochondria antibodies discovered in some cases.

d. The spleen opens into the mouth and it's brilliance is manifested in the lips.


e. The spleen produces a lifting effect along the midline of the body and keeps the internal organs in place so they do not sag or prolapse.

Mitochondria are found in almost all tissues and cells of body. In deficient spleen qi patients with sallow complexions, pale lips, a flat taste in mouth, abdominal flatulence, shortness of breath, debilitated defecation and visceroptosis, the mitochondria are found to be decreased in number and many are damaged and swollen.

f. The spleen rules thought. The spleen influences our capacity for thinking, studying, focusing, concentration and memorizing. Poor digestion and assimilation results in a lack of nutrients nourishing the brain and can effect the blood sugar. Both can cause mental unrest, irritability, worry, dwelling on things or obsession, and a lack of focus and clarity.


The importance of this comparison of the spleen helps herbalists better understand the value and effect of herbs on the body.() The spleen is probably the most important strategy for healing in TCM because it affects the body's immunity and capacity to maintain and heal itself. If we can understand the diagnostic indications for spleen patterns and herbs used for them, then its possible to better understand the properties of the herbs themselves.

For example, qi tonics such as ginseng probably help in mitochondria formation, both in quantity as well as quality. Also, dampness-eliminating herbs probably help re-form swollen mitochondria and perhaps aid in lymph circulation. Thus, qi tonifying herbs in TCM are important, not just as tonics or adaptogens, but because they aid mitochondria repair and replication, and increase resistance to disease by stimulating the spleen to produce lymphocytes and leukocytes.

There are several functions of qi tonics. One is as adaptogens, herbs that have anti-irradiation, anti-stress and anti-fatigue effects. In terms of Western medicine this means they probably increase leukocytes and promote antibody formation. Examples include ginseng, astragalus and schizandra. Another function of qi tonics is as immune promoters and strengtheners. Examples are astragalus, codonopsis, ginseng and atractylodes.

Qi tonics are usually classified as having a sweet flavor. This demonstrates their life supporting effects that build up body tissue and produce energy. Since the Chinese believe food is the best tonic, qi tonics are often combined with food such as rice, ginger, red dates, meat soup, or in Ayurveda, with milk. Qi tonics are also frequently used with herbs that eliminate dampness or tonify the yang. Because the overuse of tonics can cause stagnation of qi leading to gastrointestinal fullness, chest pains and tightness, spasms or headaches, it is important to use tonics in moderate doses and give them with qi regulating herbs (carminatives).


Ginseng, American ginseng, codonopsis, astragalus, jujube dates, atractylodes, licorice, dioscorea, honey, barley malt or rice syrup, spikenard, elecampane root, suma (Pfaffia paniculata)



cardamom, magnolia bark, orange peel, saussurea root, poria cocos (hoelen)



I. Spleen Qi Deficiency

Four Gentleman Decoction (si jun zi tang)

Rx Ginseng 3-9 gm

Rhz Atractylodis macrocephalae 6-9 gm

Sclerotium Poria cocos 6-9 gm

Rx Glycyrrhizae uralensis, honey-fried 3-6 gm

This is a very harmonious and moderate formula that is not too warm or drying. It may be used in treating any disorders for which deficient spleen qi is considered the root. It treats pallid complexion, low and soft voice, reduced appetite, loose stools, weakness in the limbs, pale tongue body and thin and/or frail pulse.

Extraordinary Merit Powder (yi gong san)

Four Gentleman Decoction plus:

Pericarpium citri reticulatae (chen pi) 6-9 gm

In addition to the effects of the Four Gentleman Decoction, this formula also harmonizes the stomach, treating a stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium, nausea and vomiting.

Six Gentleman Decoction (jiao zhu fu ren liang fang)

Rx Ginseng 3 gm

Rhz Atractylodes macrocephalae 4.5 gm

Sclerotium Poria cocos 3 gm

Rx Glycyrrhizae uralensis, honey-fried 3 gm

Pericarpium Citri reticulatae 3 gm

Rhz Pinelliae ternatae 4.5 gm

This formula tonifies spleen qi, transforms phlegm and stops vomiting. It is good for loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, a stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium, possible coughing and copious thin and white sputum.

Six Gentleman Decoction with Cardamom and Saussurea

(Ziang sha liu jun zi tang)


Six Gentleman Decoction with:

Eletarria cardamomum 2.4 gm

Saussurea 2.1 gm

This formula additionally strengthens the spleen, harmonizes the stomach, and regulates qi and stops pain. It treats spleen and stomach qi deficiency with cold-damp stagnation, decreased appetite with feelings of fullness after eating only a little, belching, abdominal distention or pain and periodic vomiting and diarrhea.

Nourish the Stomach Decoction with Cardamom and Saussurea

(xiang sha yang wei tang)

Rx Ginseng (ren shen) 1.5 gm

Rhz Atractylodes macrocephalae (bai zhu) 3 gm

Sclerotium Poria cocos (fu ling) 2.4 gm

Rhz Atractylodes (cang zhu) 2.4 gm

Cortex Magnoliae officinalis, ginger juice-fried 2.4 gm

Pericarpium Citri Reticulate 2.4 gm

Rhz Cyperi rotundi, dry-fried 2.4 gm

Fructis Amomi cardamomi 2.1 gm

Saussurea 1.4 gm

Eletarria cardamom 3 gm

Rx Glycyrrhizae uralensis, honey-fried 1.5-3 gm

Rhz Zingiberis officinale recens 3 gm

Fr Zizyphi jujube 1.5-3 gm

This formula strengthens and harmonizes the spleen and stomach and resolves dampness. It treats decreased appetite, loss of taste, inability to eat more than a little at a time, bloating after eating, distention and general weakness.

II. Spleen Yang Deficiency

Stabilize the True Decoction (gu qhen tang)

Rx Ginseng 7.5 gm

Rx Aconite napellus 7.5 gm

Sclerotium Poria cocos 7.5 gm

Rhz Atractylodes macrocephalae 7.5 gm

Tuber Dioscoreae oppositae (shan yao) 6 gm

Rx Astragalus membranacii, honey-fried 6 gm

Cortex Cinnamom cassiae 6 gm

Rx Glycyrrhizae uralensis 6 gm

This treats lethargy, pasty-white complexion, profuse sweating, rhythmic spasms of the hands and feet, clear liquid diarrhea, pale tongue with white thin coat, submerged faint pulse and possible prolonged bout of vomiting and diarrhea.

Preserve the Basal Decoction (bao yuan tang)

Rx Astragalus membranicus 6-9 gm

decocted with a handful of glutinous rice

Rx Ginseng 6-9 gm

Glycyrrhizae uralensis, honey-fried 3 gm

Cortex Cinnamom cassiae 1.5-2.1 gm

This formula is for deficiency and consumption, fatigue, lethargy, shortness of breath, aversion to cold with possible pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

III. Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness

Ginseng, Poria and Atractylodes Powder

(Shen ling bai zhu san)

Four Gentlemen Decoction plus Dioscorea 1 part


Semen Dolichoris 3/4 part

Lotus Seeds 1/2 part

Coix 1/2 part

Cardamom 1/2 part

Platycodon 1/2 part

This formula harmonizes the stomach, leaches out dampness, protects the lungs and tonifies spleen qi. Citri reticulatae can be added to strengthen the formula's ability to benefit the spleen and expel dampness. It treats loose stools or diarrhea, lowered appetite, weakness of the extremities, weight loss, distention and a stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium, pallid and wan complexion, pale tongue with white coat, thin, moderate or deficient pulse, possible vomiting and cough with sputum.

Tonify Middle and Augment the Qi Decoction

(bu zhong yi qi tang)

Rx Astragalus membranicus 12-24 gm

Rx Ginseng 9-12 gm

Rhz Atractylodes macrocephalae 9-12 gm

Rx Glycyrrhizae uralensis, honey-fried 3-6 gm

Rx Angelica sinensis (Dong quai) 6-12 gm

Pericarpium Citri reticulatae 6-9 gm

Cimicifuga 3-6 gm

Bupleurum falcatum 3-9 gm

This formula treats intermittent fever, spontaneous sweating, aversion to cold, thirst for warm beverages, shortness of breath, laconic speech, tendency to curl up, weak limbs, shiny pale complexion, loose and watery stools, pale tongue with thin white coat, and a flooding deficient pulse. It raises prolapse and tonifies qi.


The understanding of the organs in TCM is often overlooked as being unscientific and invalid. Interestingly, not only are its organ functions based on scientific physiology, they often go beyond it in understanding, meaning and usefulness. While Western medicine confines the dysfunctions of the spleen to specific diseases, TCM views the spleen as much more encompassing in its effects in the body. On the other hand, the technological advantages of Western medicine are well suited to providing Westerners with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

We can apply this same approach to the current view of Western herbalism and more quickly see the limitations of solely placing medicinal value on herbs' chemical reactions and biochemical constituents. The broader holistic view of TCM allows herbalists to see the potential of what herbs are able to do and how herbs relate to individual physiological conditions rather than general disease or biochemical categories. Much more work can be done in the area of comparing the body's physiology between Western medicine and TCM that would further the understanding of both medicines and perhaps, overall, come to a more integrated approach to health and healing.


Lesley Tierra is a California State licensed acupuncturist who practices with her husband, Michael Tierra in Santa Cruz, California. She is the author of The Herbs of Life and dean of the East West Herbal Correspondence Course.



Verdict: DON'T TAKE DRUGS WITH HERBS! An Herbalist's Perspective

Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

The hottest topic on the herbal supplement scene these days seems to be around the problems associated with herb-drug contraindications. It seems that this issue has become the major platform for unskilled, misinformed, medical practitioners and researchers to proffer their largely insubstantial expertise behind the battery of letters that always follow their name. Of course, where the vast wealth of our herbal knowledge emanates is not from such self styled 'experts" but from eons of herbalists, folk healers and people who underwent the real test of using them repeatedly over generations " and the fact is that if we were to encounter such healers, shamans and herbalists, we are not likely to find any degrees after their name but the withered appearance of a wise sage.

For the most part, it is the same tired old pharmaceutically hyped herbs; the St.- Johns-wort, feverfew, ginkgo, kava, and echinacea that are flaunted as replete with possible hazards, as if these were the only herbs that herbalists and people ever use. It is the thesis of this article that this effort, whether conscious or not, often involving well meaning medical spokespersons and even herbalists who are trying to make themselves well versed in scientific jargon, generally serves to confuse the public about the well known efficacy and safety of herbs. This may be a process to create a wedge of doubt concerning the safety and efficacy of most herbs, engendering an alarmist environment in the mainstream, that will ultimately lead to someone claiming some trumped up catastrophic episode, thereby forcing a heightened climate towards further regulation.

With 30 years experience as an herbalist, having seen thousands of people throughout the world (mostly through trial and self training, since there were no official training schools or programs during my early years of interest), I have seen very little evidence of any serious drug-herb complications. I cannot say that I have not seen any, but the problem is that if even one issue is raised, the entire conversation becomes dominated not by the overwhelming efficacy and safety of herbal medicine, but by the hazards and risks. This is disproportionate and, I believe, for a very good reason. First, it raises unwarranted doubts and concerns about herbs which, reasonable or not, takes the heat off the real problems of drug side effects. Lest we forget, the reason that the alternative health movement and the herbal movement specifically achieved its impetus is not because of lifestyle-envy of people who tended to be involved with herbs, but because of the very real and continuing issues of the failure of conventional medicine to offer therapeutic options that were not replete with a wide array of risks and side effects.

Attending one such presentation at an NNFA show in Las Vegas, a symposium of non-herbalist authorities set forth to describe the risks of various herb-drug interactions. I remember one very clearly " that an individual who takes ibuprofen pain medication should probably not take feverfew. The italics are my own because this expert had no solid evidence that there was a problem sufficient to warrant such a claim. Those who attended this lecture and had no experience in the use of herbs were going to leave with two conclusions: 1) that herbs were dangerous and 2) that not only are herbal remedies, in themselves, difficult to learn but that this issue is made even more complex because they would have to learn about the various drugs and the interaction herbs may have with these drugs.

First of all, let's define an herb. The pharmaceutical companies have defined herbs such as ginkgo, St.-Johns-wort, feverfew, kava, and echinacea based on standardized extracts, some of which are highly concentrated to the degree that they are actually herbally derived drugs. Others are simply described by a single supposedly 'active" biochemical constituent. Let's face it " herbs are complex entities made up of thousands of compounds, which, if each of these were isolated, would include a number that are poisonous and a number that are not. Since it is the dose that is the deciding factor, if an herb has a smaller amount of poisonous, toxic compounds than non-poisonous ones, it is probably as safe as a most foods.

I have always felt that there are serious problems commercializing and promoting the use of a single herb. People are capable of reacting against any substance, whether benign or not, including broccoli, carrots and even rice. Why then, would it not be possible for someone to develop an immediate or delayed 'idiosyncratic" reaction to a complex, unfamiliar food-like substance such as a medicinal herb? Traditional herbalists know this, which is one reason why herbs, especially when prescribed for long-term chronic conditions are given in formulas " not as a single substance. Single herbs are traditionally taken short term usually for a specific acute condition or to achieve a specific therapeutic effect and then they are stopped.

So what I heard, amongst other outrageous remarks, was that because ibuprofen is responsible in the US for 9000 deaths a year from stomach hemorrhage and since feverfew has actions that may be similar to ibuprofen (though there actually is no basis for such a thesis), people shouldn't take feverfew with ibuprofen for their headaches. The assumption here is that people should take ibuprofen, known to kill 9000 people a year from gastrointestinal bleeding. Feverfew, on the other hand, has no attributed deaths to its shame but is made an accomplice by implication to the side effects of ibuprofen.

The ignorance of this position is astounding to me as an herbalist. Immediately, one could postulate, 'Well, besides feverfew, this must include willow bark, lemon balm, mint, and even chamomile since these are a few of the other well-known herbs that have been used to relieve headaches and symptoms of colds and flus. The strategy was clear to me, though I don't think it was clear to the speaker: 'We'll begin with feverfew and some other time in the not-too-distant future we'll get to all the other herbs." What I read into this, is that they don't need to get to all the other herbs but simply enough to warrant distrust and suspicion so that all herbs will fall under repressive regulation with distribution only by medical doctors.

One may think that I am reading something into this presentation that didn't exist, or that I am being unduly alarmist. Sorry, it has already happened in just about every other Western country including France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Ireland and Australia, where increasing numbers of some of the most popular herbs are only available from qualified medical personnel. Unfortunately, what is considered to be called a 'qualified" medical practitioner are not the same qualifications that comprise an herbalist " one who dedicates his or her life to the study and practice of herbal medicine.

Furthermore, there are at least two distinct types of herbalism that can be referred to: There is allopathic herbalism, which is based on using herbs like drugs to treat, usually in a very limited way, specific medical conditions; and there is traditional holistic herbal medicine, which uses herbs to adjust functional processes of the body so that the body is able to find its own homeostatic health and well-being.

For example, when you take saw palmetto for a prostate problem you are practicing allopathic herbalism. However, when you take herbs that regulate urination, promote normal circulation and clear inflammation in the pelvic cavity (whether you use herbs from India, China or the great botanical treasures of North or South America), you are using herbs holistically.

So which one is safer? Certainly it is the holistic approach. While the other may only have a statistical reference of efficacy for prostate problems, using herbs holistically guarantees that the only limiting factor on their efficacy is the skill of understanding the complexity of symptoms based on a differential evaluation of the individual's symptoms.

What I have consistently found is that when people take herbs and drugs together the efficacy of the herbs is compromised. The herbs must first be put to the task of dissipating and eliminating the toxicity of the drug, which is the 'drug-herb" toxicity, before they can get to helping the body heal itself. That is why I would say that the chances are excellent that you will not have any complications from the interaction of Ibuprofen with feverfew, but because ibuprofen is toxic and is known to cause severe reactions and death in a significant percentage of people who use it for colds and headaches, you should stop its use and take feverfew or some other applicable herb instead.

In other words, it seems the best of all worlds if we were to stop using drugs to the best of our ability and use herbs instead. I know that is a problem for many but at least it creates a truer impression as to where the risks really reside " with the drugs, not the herbs. Remember, we are looking to herbs because we want to get away from drugs, not simply to use them like another drug.

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