In most Chinese herbal educations that are based mostly on the Chinese University educations herbs are placed in one and sometimes two categories.
The problem then arises, what to do with herbs that have very broad characteristics. For example an herb can warm the surface and the interior at the same time. Placing herbs in categories does not help in understanding how herbs work in the body or how they function in formulas. Worse, it does not making learning any easier.
Understanding the taste and movement of herbs and formulas increases the understanding of how they interact with the body. This makes choosing a formula easier. This makes modifying a formula easier.
All herbs and formulas are subject to the basic diagnostic models learned in our basic Chinese Medicine educations. So then why are the herbs and formulas not explained in this way?
When studying herbal formulas from the Shang Han Za Bing Lun it is clear that the structure is based on the principals seen in the decoction classic. Our unique system of pattern identification is based on the work of Zhang ji who wrote the Shang Han Za Bing Lun. Understanding the structure of these formulas increase your recognition of these unique patterns.
In this course I use two different texts that when combined offer insight in how herbs can be understood and reflect the basic diagnostic models of yin yang, five elements, and climatic qi.
From the decoction classic
All pungent belongs to wood, for it is governed by
gui zhi is wood, shu jiao is fire, jiang is earth, xi xin is metal, fu zi is water
All salty belongs to fire, for it is governed by
xuan fu hua is fire, ze xie is earth, hou po is metal, da huang is wood, xiao shi is water
All sweet belongs to earth, for it is governed by
ren shen is earth, mai men dong is metal, fu ling is water, gan cao is wood, da zao is fire
All sour belongs to metal, for it is governed by
Metal is wu wei zi, shu yu is water, zhi shi is wood, dou chi is fire, shao yao is earth
All bitter belongs to water, for it is governed by
Water is di huang, huang qin is wood, huang lian is fire, bai zhu is earth, zhu ye is metal
Pungent governs dispersion, and its movement can traverse, and thus it can release the surface.
Salty governs softening, its nature sinks, and therefore it can lead out stagnation.
Sweet governs moderation and its movement can ascend therefore it can tonify the middle burner.
Sour governs collecting, its nature cans astringe, and therefore it treats drainage.
Bitter governs purging, its movement can descend, and therefore it can expel excess.
Bland governs percolation, its nature disinhibits, and therefore it can clear by separation.
In this course I explain taste and movement for 25 primary herbs and more secondary herbs…
- why each herb is placed in its position
- the yin yang aspect of each herb
- the relation to the five elements
- its affect on the climatic qi of the body
- the common combinations of the herb
- how it is used in formulas