Experience, Nutrition

Chinese Herbal Medicine

So, the new venture is studying herbal medicine which is going well, and also disastrously wrong, but in a breaking down to break through kind of way. And of course I have the love and support of my family and friends, which is something that will forever be something that they are paying forward, as every time something I do helps someone, the flow of their supportive energy will be part of it, so bless them for that. Everything is being poured into my studies, work and clinic and so I have become slightly burnt out, and feeling a bit lost.

Being organised is helping, but the chunk of time that I had organised is coming to an end, so I need to make a new plan for the next few months. So here, as part of being organised, are two documents which several people have asked me to share, and having them here is the easiest way to reference them should they need to be shared further.

The first is a list of all the herbs we are studying in the first year at the White Crane Academy, laid out in a kind of map in groups of their main herb action.

The second is a kind of blueprint of how I am organising my brain to write formulas. At first I just took alllll the herbs and chucked them at the problem, like something has got to stick kind of mentality. This meant while the diagnosis was ok, and the treatment principle was almost making sense, there was then this scattered herb response which looked messy and disorganised, because it was.

So now, once the case has been read, I have to narrow it down to three or maximum four diagnostic points, and rank them in order of what is the most important to treat first. I know this is clinically probably not what will be the thing to do, however in terms of brain training, it helps me to focus. Then the treatment principles must hang off the diagnosis, again in the same order that the diagnosis is written down in, so that I am focussing on treating what has actually been diagnosed, rather than doing all the things including the washing up to settle the shen etc.

Then the herbs are introduced, and the colours representing where the herbs are (roughly) in the formula. The red zone, (on the ‘formula’ doc) with space 4 – 5 herbs, is for treatment principle one, the orange and yellow zones with space for 3 herbs each are for treatment principles two and three, and the green zone is for either extra herbs in each zone, or for harmonisers, or ones that help potential side effects of stronger herbs. There is space for writing the name of the herb, the dosage, and then what reason that herb is being placed in the formula. There’s only space for a maximum of 15 herbs, preferably there will be 13/14, and each herb has to have a strong purpose for being there.

Once I’ve written the formula, each herb is looked at again – is it really fulfilling the treatment principle, is it accompanied by a herb that classically works well with it, is it being duplicated by another herb in the formula, does it need another herb to control it’s side effects – and finally, if you could only use three of these herbs, which ones would they be?

So there it is, the document that hopefully will help. One final pointer to remember (me, not you 🙂 ) is that one way of getting a formula down in response to a case is to do the whole thing, and then bin it, and start again from scratch, maybe once or twice. It sounds harsh, but in fact I’ve found it useful to really start making grooves in my mind on which herbs work where.

So, to any budding herbalists out there, seriously, the universe is super lucky to have you, all of nature is singing that her healing bounty is being carried on for future generations.

It is incredible how nature has provided all this beauty and elegant healing nourishment, the harmony of these formulas of taking all these herbs together to create a healing tea to ease suffering, is so beautiful to create, so meditative and calming and at times so overwhelming. This is gold, the satisfaction of feeling in the right place – no certainty of what ‘working this all out’ will look like but feeling safe in this ever evolving curiosity dance of life, thank you world.