Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold have written on subjects as diverse as case studies and cancer care, from overviews of Chinese medicine to how Chinese medicine views the mind, from acupuncture in Cuba to the history of the Western management of breast cancer. These journal articles and chapters are available here for free download in PDF format. See a complete list of publications in Published Works.

Conversations: Eastern Medicine for Western People

This interview with Efrem and Harriet answers many questions about acupuncture. In Chinese medicine everything is linked with everything else – not just as an idea, but in actuality. Health and illness coexist and arise out of the same conditions. Disease doesn’t come from nowhere – it emerges from a lived life. Simply put: Chinese medicine not only focuses on the content (the disease), but also on the context (the person who has it). On the one hand, Chinese medicine is a method of restoration and recovery; on the other hand, it’s a systematic way of knowing, a medical epistemology that includes a method of self-exploration that helps people develop in less tangible ways than taking herbs, receiving acupuncture, or following a new diet. Complaints are what initially draw people to Chinese medicine, but what seems to keep them enrolled is that they feel they are being seen, heard, and helped within a broad frame of reference, and that everything they are and bring with them is relevant to the process.   Download article as PDF file

Chinese Traditional Medicine: An Introductory Overview

Chinese medicine holds assumptions that diverge fundamentally from those of modern Western medicine. Incorporation of what is useful from this age-old system, therefore, requires acquistion of a conceptual vocabulary foreign to our own. The ideas that form the ground of a culture are so taken for granted that, like air, water, or gravity, other legitimate systems of meaning are difficult to imagine. Appreciation of Chinese medicine involves a willingness to entertain the possibility of merit in a point of view that differs from our own.  Download article as PDF file

Chinese Medicine and Cancer Care

Since the time of its origins 3,000 years ago, Chinese medicine has been used for the treatment of tumors, identified in antiquity as liu yan, meaning lumps as hard as a rock, or as zhong yang, meaning inflamed ulcers. Over the course of millennia, various strategies emerged to reduce pain, swelling and tumor mass; to improve host resistance and enhance body competence; to potentiate the effects of conventional radiation and chemotherapies; and to prevent, control and treat the adverse effects of conventional treatment like fatigue, weakness, gastric distress, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and low white blood cells. This article explains the Chinese traditional medicine approach to cancer and reports on modern studies that demonstrate the usefulness of herbs and acupuncture in cancer care.  Download article as PDF file

Chinese Medicine and the Mind

Chinese medicine does not make absolute distinctions between what we in the West classify as the mind, the activity of the central nervous system, and the physiology of the visceral organs. Within traditional Chinese medical thinking, a person represents a field of Qi, a continuum of dynamic structures, functions, processes, sensory perceptions, and cognitive faculties that range from the gross, substantial, and visible (fluids, blood, flesh, muscles, vessels, sense organs, nerves, and bone) to the subtle, insubstantial, and invisible (sensations, perceptions, feelings, emotions, thoughts, images, and dreams). Each of the five Organ Networks (Kidney, Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung) govern all internal events and outward expressions. That is to say, how the Qi moves in each of the Organ Networks, and how those Networks interact from moment to moment, are what determine the character of our life experience. Simply stated, mental and physical health are viewed as one integrated function. This article includes many charts showing the Chinese medicine understanding of how the body is linked to the mind.  Download article as PDF file

Revisiting Accepted Wisdom in the Management of Breast Cancer

The extent to which current treatment for breast cancer succeeds in prolonging life remains open to question. Despite evidence that mastectomy, radiation following lumpectomy, axillary node dissection, or intensive follow-up surveillance have little impact on survival, these practices are adhered to tenaciously. The widespread acceptance of many ideas and interventions is perilously disconnected from their actual merit. The imperative for doctors to do something sometimes contradicts their pledge to do no harm. Reflection on what is known should guide future action.  Download article as PDF file

Fleas, Ponies, Doctors, Angels

Diana’s shoulders hunched protectively, cradling her chest. Although her eyes met mine, it seemed they were peering through an invisible wall of armor. Pale ivory cheeks were softened by a thin rose blush. Encircling her eyes was the color of ashen snow. Undressed, Diana’s 47-year-old body was well-proportioned with appropriate amounts of flesh hugging her bones, yet it hung without tenacity, somewhat spongy to the touch.  Download article as PDF file OrganElement234x238

Who Am I? Five Phase Types

Chinese cosmology sees nature as being governed by five primal organizing forces, each of them sharing the character of a climate, a season, a developmental stage in the cycle of life. These five primal forces are known as Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. It is possible to classify everyone within these five categories – which organizing force most characterizes you? The process of self-exploration and self-discovery has health benefits. By acquiring more knowledge about your nature, you increase your ability to recognize how to meet your own specific needs and prevent problems before they occur. Each type has physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual tendencies. To learn about your pattern and identify your type is to increase your capacity to forestall ailments, upsets, and quandaries. Like the soil, Earth types tend to absorb water and become soggy; Fire types can run warm and be at risk of burn-out; Metal types can become inflexible; Water types can freeze up and become isolated; and Wood types can dry out and become brittle. Each of these types is more prone to fall prey to certain conditions or ailments. Earth types can become swollen, Fire inflamed, Metal dry, Water rigid, and Wood tense. Each type has to beware of certain dietary habits and will benefit from others. Similarly, there are herbs that will both forestall problems and strengthen one’s constitution.  Download article as PDF file

Five Types of Case Studies

Five Phase typing helps to explain the dynamic context within which symptoms arise. It’s an approach that grafts Western notions of the psyche onto the trunk of traditional Chinese medical thought. By sharing case studies this methodology gains clinical utility. The symptoms, signs, diagnosis and treatment of each of the five types helps demonstrate how this approach works.  Download article as PDF file

Foundation Concepts of Chinese Medicine

Every medicine is a language, a vocabulary of concepts that expresses fundamental beliefs about the nature of reality. It is through this grid that we perceive and explain ourselves. Medical thinking defines human experience, from physiological process to human behavior and competence. It is medicine that determines how we are born and how we die, whether we are fit or disabled, intelligent or ignorant, healthy or ill. Medicine is the cultural institution that defines when we are alive, valuable, and human. Ontology and pathology are always closely linked: how people get sick is inextricably tied to who they are. The ideas of Chinese medicine differ fundamentally from those of Western medicine, so identifying and solving problems within its context requires familiarity with its concepts, categories, and logic.  Download article as PDF file

Foundation Terms

Defining the foundation terms of Chinese medicine helps a newcomer penetrate how Chinese medicine understands and explains the body. Just as nature contains air, sea, and land, the human body is comprised of Shen, Qi (pronounced chee), Moisture, Blood, and Essence. Qi is the animating force that gives us the capacity to move, think, feel, and work. Qi is the dynamic principle that expresses itself through all living processes. Moisture is the liquid medium that protects, nurtures, and lubricates tissue. Blood is the material foundation out of which we create tissue. Whereas Shen (Mind) represents the immaterial expression of our selves, Essence (Jing) represents the body’s reproductive and regenerative substance. There are also body climates: Wind, Dampness, Dryness, Heat, and Cold that affect how we function and feel.  Download article as PDF file

Chinese Organ Physiology

As nature is organized by five primal powers (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water), so the body is divided into five functional systems known as Organ Networks. As an aggregate of organs, tissues, channels, and physiologic functions, each Organ Network is critical for the sustenance of life. Each embodies a distinctive intellectual, emotional, and behavioral style as well as physiological correspondences. As distinct from the Western identification of organs, each Organ Network in Chinese medicine refers to a complete set of functions – physiological and psychological – rather than to a specific and discrete physical structure fixed in an anatomical location. For this reason they are referred to as Organ Networks rather than simply as organs. Each has its own responsibilities (a job to do), a strategy (how to do the job), and a character (a way of being or personality) that reflect the power of each of the five phases. The Liver (Wood) stores the Blood and regulates the even movement of Qi. The Heart (Fire) propels the Blood and is the seat of consciousness. The Spleen (Earth) generates and distributes nourishment. The Lung (Metal) receives and disperses Qi. The Kidney (Water) stores the vital Essence.  Download article as PDF file

Chinese Modular Solutions Formula Guide

Chinese Modular Solutions streamlines the process of customizing formulas for practitioners, while making compliance easy for end users. It’s a self-contained system simple enough to be used with confidence, and complex enough to be widely applicable. Bypassing the need for familiarity with single herbs or classical formulas, Chinese Modular Solutions requires only the ability to interpret signs and identify patterns. Mass-produced patent formulas are popular because they are more convenient and palatable; but it is difficult to be responsive to individual needs with standardized remedies. Chinese Modular Solutions combines the best of both worlds: unlike standardized formulas, they can be tailored for people without asking them to drink time-consuming bitter brews. There are 30 Chinese Modular Solutions formulas: beginning with 11 that regulate the basic body constituents of Qi, Moisture, Blood, Essence and Shen; 11 that eliminate adverse conditions (Cold, Heat, Damp Heat, Phlegm, Internal and External Wind); 5 that strengthen the Organ Networks of the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung and Kidney; and 5 that harmonize Organ Network relationships (Liver-Spleen; Spleen-Kidney, Kidney-Heart, Heart-Lung, and Lung-Liver). Download article as PDF file

Sage Solutions Formula Guide

We are challenged daily to cope with the stresses of our lives. Sage Solutions provide elegant support for our respiratory, reproductive, digestive and psychological well-being. The 22 Sage Solutions formulas specifically assist with energy, strength and stamina; elimination and detoxification; coping with mental and physical strain; genitourinary weakness; environmental sensitivities; menstrual and menopausal imbalances; and the common grievances that are always going around. They are ‘sage’ because they embody the wisdom of centuries of knowledge and experience. They are ‘solutions’ because they address particular health concerns that arise and interfere with our ability to feel happy and productive. They assist us in our mission to be well. Download article as PDF file

Gentle Warriors Pediatric Formula Guide

There are 16 pediatric Gentle Warriors formulas that support and protect the welfare of children: 11 formulas support common disharmonies of the respiratory, digestive, skin and nervous systems; and 5 constitutional Peacemakers formulas nurture a child’s nature according to their intrinsic organizing pattern, or type. Characteristic expressions of each child’s nature persist and remain coherent over time, including temperament, social and emotional behavior, response to challenge and crisis, learning styles, strengths, deficits, preferences and aversions. Recognizing a child’s type enables us to anticipate the physical and psychological challenges that a child is likely to encounter, helping us prevent minor concerns from morphing into serious ones so we can craft optimal strategies for nurturance and care. All of these herbal extracts are mild-tasting, low-alcohol, liquid formulas easy for children to swallow. Adults can benefit from them as well. Each formula’s ingredients, rationale, function and indications are discussed as well as how the products are made and tested to guarantee the highest quality. In addition, how children are special is covered in the essay “Growing the Dao: Building Health in Early Childhood.” Download article as PDF file

Dreaming with two feet on the ground: Acupuncture in Cuba

Imagine a health care system that is universal, comprehensive, integrates alternative therapies, and provides care at no cost to the patient. Imagine that the practice of medicine does not involve a financial transaction between doctor and patient, hospital and patient, or clinic and patient. Imagine that medical training is free and that health care is not only considered a right, but a primary means of fostering the health and happiness of the community as a whole, as well as the individuals within it. This is medicine in Cuba. Often health is equated with wealth, but life expectancy rates in Cuba are comparable to those in the United States. High standards of health in Cuba contradict the assumption that a high Gross National Product is a prerequisite, but it appears necessary that the government prioritize health.  Download article as PDF file

Quick Reference:

Formula Indications and Protocols for Common Conditions

(for health care providers)

The indications for formulas that constitute CHINESE  MODULAR  SOLUTIONS, SAGE SOLUTIONS, and GENTLE WARRIORS are listed in this quick reference guide. There are protocols for common conditions shown that demonstrate the versatility of this repertoire. They are general guidelines – suggested approaches to treating commonly encountered clinical presentations. Ultimately, every prescription should be considered in the context of the individual. These protocols are meant to aid in differential diagnosis and treatment. With appropriate mixing and matching of liquid herbal extracts, effective customized remedies can be made in a busy clinical practice. Most patients demonstrate excellent compliance and report dramatic results.

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