Individualized formulas

A formula fits a patient the way a key opens a lock, mirroring and correcting patterns of disorganized Qi, Moisture, and Blood. A locksmith impressions a key from a blank, and the herbalist forms an impression of the patient, a diagnosis, from which he crafts the prescription. He translates symptoms and signs into patterns of disharmony that are then matched with the therapeutic properties of herbs. Ideally the formula is a perfect reflection of the condition and needs of the patient.

Formulating herbal prescriptions for particular peopleefrem-mixing

Caroline, a 38-year-old patient, complains of chronic weariness, puffy eyes, a distended belly, poor concentration, hands that swell, and feet that feel cold at night. The herbalist interprets this configuration of tiredness, swelling, chilly feet, distension, and muddledness as signs of depleted Qi, excess Moisture, insufficient warmth at the core, and Spleen deficiency. Caroline requires herbs that supplement and move her Qi while evicting Dampness and Cold.

The formula for Caroline matches her needs: astragalus, atractylodes, and poria tonify Qi, disperse Moisture, consolidate surface defensive Qi, and strengthen the Spleen. Winter melon peel and cinnamon twig purge Dampness. Fresh ginger and red date invigorate Qi and warm her insides. By improving digestion and regulating fluids, these herbs promote the function of her Spleen and Kidney. Our strategy is to combine formulas that tonify Qi, strengthen Spleen, disperse Moisture and purge Cold. After taking these herbs, Caroline has more energy, reduced fluid retention in her face and hands, warmer feet, and a more comfortable belly.

Jack, a 49-year-old patient, seeks help for his stiff and weak low back, dry eyes, thinning hair, diminished sexual enthusiasm, and restless sleep. Declining libido, lumbar distress, and hair loss signal diminished Kidney Essence. Kidney Essence maintains tissue and blood, elasticity of skin and muscle, agility of mind, and clarity of the senses. Dry eyes plus unsatisfying sleep suggest that depleted Kidney reserves have precipitated a deficiency of the Blood of the Liver and Heart. Herbal formulas that will strengthen the Kidney and replenish Essence will be beneficial for Jack. The herbs in such a formula stimulate the bone marrow to produce new blood cells as well as increasing the number of hormone receptors on cells and the volume of hormones present in blood and tissue, particularly the brain, spinal cord, sense, and genital organs.

Herbs that strengthen the Kidney and replenish Essence promote the body’s intelligence and its capacity for sexual potency, fertility, overall health, and long life. They are as useful for women on their way to becoming pregnant as they are for mature people who want to preserve the liveliness of their younger years.