Chinese Herbal Thinking

Chinese medicine views illness as an imbalance of body constituents (i.e., ailments arise when there is insufficient Qi, Moisture, or Blood, or when these constituents are too dense, too sluggish or too unruly), and an ensuing dysfunction of Organ Networks. The logic of patterned thinking means correlating symptoms (patterns of distress) with categories of interpretation (patterns of disharmony). For example, in Chinese medicine if:


  • Deborah is tense, tired, irritable, and has dry skin and brittle hair (symptoms) – this is because she is deficient in Blood which undermines the function of the Liver and Heart, and disturbs the Spleen (interpretation).
  • Peter is restless, anxious, and prone to sharp pains in his upper abdomen and chest – this is understood as stagnant Blood which interferes with the function of the Heart and Liver.
  • Vinny is lethargic and worried, his face is puffy, his abdomen bloated, and he has chronic herpes – these symptoms arise from Qi stagnation, Dampness, and Heat affecting the Liver, Spleen, and Kidney.
  • Marsha is timid, chilly, weak, and lacks libido; her hips frequently ache and she often sleeps late without feeling refreshed – this translates as a lack of Qi, warmth, and Essence which has weakened her Kidney and Liver function.
  • Michael is erratic and moody and suffers bouts of dizziness, wheezing, and overheating alternating with episodes of headache, nasal congestion, and cold extremities – internal Heat and Wind combined with stasis of Qi and Blood are disturbing the harmony of his Liver and Lung.


To simplify how to educate people about herbal medicine and encourage its greater use, we devised an alternative system for prescribing. Our goal was to preserve aspects of traditional herbal medicine yet streamline its use. To do this meant conceiving of a method in which formulas could be made to conform to individual patterns while bypassing the need to acquire detailed knowledge of hundreds of herbs and traditional formulas. This would make it feasible for people without extensive prior training to employ Chinese herbs, so long as they understood the principles of Chinese medicine.
The American penchant for innovation fused with the specificity and complexity of age-old Chinese practice spurred the design of Chinese Modular Solutions formulas composed of simple herbal combinations, or modules, that can be mixed and matched to correspond to symptom patterns. These modules act to:

  • Regulate body constituents (Qi, Moisture, and Blood)
  • Eliminate Adverse Climates (Cold, Heat, Internal Wind, External Wind, Phlegm, and Damp-Heat).
  • Strengthen Organ Networks (Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, Kidney).
  • Harmonize Organ Network relationships (LiverLung, Lung-Heart, Heart-Kidney, Kidney-Spleen, Spleen-Liver).
  • Correct complex patterns of imbalance that characterize particular problems or conditions
  • Diminish common discomforts of infants and children.

A particular modular formula can be used by itself or as a building block in compounding a more complex prescription. What is required is an identification of symptom configurations within the vocabulary of Chinese medicine.blood234

  • What is the state of your Qi, Moisture, and Blood?
  • Is it depleted or congested?
  • Are you burdened by the penetration or accumulation of Wind, Cold, Heat, Wind, or Dampness?

On the basis of that assessment, the therapeutic strategy is to match such patterns with the actions of the formulas (i.e., to tonify, consolidate, disperse, purge, warm, cool).

  • How well do your Organ Networks function? Are there patterns of deficiency or disturbance?
  • How harmonious is the interaction between your Organ Networks?

On the basis of that evaluation, individual Organ Networks are supplemented and protected and Organ Network relationships are harmonized.