In Winter Eat Radish. In Summer Eat Sheng Jiang

It may seem counter intuitive to eat Sheng Jiang – fresh ginger – in summer to stay healthy.  After all, summer is hot and Sheng Jiang is also hot.  However, this is an extremely important concept to master as a practitioner of Chinese medicine because it relates to the storage and dissipation of our very life force.

In summer, our bodies become an open system with our pores opening to deal with the heat.  Because of this both our fluids and our Yang are dissipated throughout the summer.  The external heat of summer opens our bodies and is the season in which Yang is lost.  On the other hand, during the winter our bodies close up in response to the external cold.  It is the season in which Yang is then stored.  Dr. Huang Huang explains this in a short presentation how it is that winter is the time in which hot illnesses proliferate.  With the pores closed, the Yang can get pent up and fail to vent.  This can lead to hot illnesses.

One can extrapolate from these ideas to the whole concept of venting and storage.   Continue reading

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Huang Huang’s Pediatric Course

July ended in the most wonderful way here at White Pine Institute.  We were once again graced by the presence and wisdom of Dr. Huang Huang.  This is Dr. Huang’s third year of coming to our Institute to teach and, for me, this was better than ever.  Dr. Huang brings some extraordinary qualities to his teaching that can make an experience with him resonate and inspire in many ways.

We all noticed that Dr. Huang uses his big presence and energy to reflect on the power of the classic formulas and on the genius of Zhang Zhongjing.

He is far from meek but all of his sense of self is in service of a larger goal – spreading the miracle of the Jing Fang.  He does not ever make it about himself. Continue reading

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Part 2: Huang Huang on Gan Cao

As promised, this is part 2 of the presentation on Gan Cao.  I hope you all enjoy and benefit from this.  Don’t hesitate to leave comments and please remember that Dr. Huang Huang is coming to teach us at the end of July.  His topic will be pediatrics.  We will be learning about the following issues and how to treat them with classic formulas:

  • ADD and behavior problems
  • Allergies: Respiratory and Food
  • Asthma and chronic colds
  • Developmental problems
  • Sleep issues and phobias
  • Neonatal issues
  • Skin issues like eczema
  • Digestive issues

This will be streamed live and is approved for California and NCCAOM CEUs.

For information and registration click here

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Deep into Zhang Zhongjing’s Gan Cao

Hi all blog readers.  I have a special treat for you this time.  I am posting a presentation from the August 2008 course with Dr. Huang Huang in 2 parts.  Interpreted by Andrea Elliot.  I very much hope you enjoy this.

Click here to begin the part one presentation

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Treating Children with Classic Formulas

This entry is written to inspire practitioners to participate in the upcoming weekend with Dr. Huang Huang.  He will be teaching on pediatrics.  I’ve been studying with Dr. Huang Huang for the last almost 4 years and there are ways my work with him has transformed my practice.  Below is an example from my practice that shows how effective classic formulas and diagnosis by body type can be for children.  I am now in the middle of translating the handouts for the upcoming class with Dr. Huang and am so excited by what I am reading.  It will very much augment the knowledge I already have.  Remember that this 3 day course is being streamed live so you can attend from anywhere in the world!

Last autumn a patient of mine asked if I could take a look at her twin 3 year-olds.  This is often how it happens…a satisfied patient thinks of her children, wondering if there is some way this wonderful medicine could help them.


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Post Partum use of Sheng Hua Tang

Sheng Hua Tang is a formula designed by Fu Qing-Zhu in the 17th century.  It was first written about in his text Fu Qing-Zhu’s Gynecology (Fu Qing-Zhu Fu Ke) It is designed to treat women who are just post partum in order to transform blood stasis so that new blood can be generated.  This is one explanation given for the name of the formula “Generate and Transform Decoction”.  The name of the formula could also be translated as the “Giving Birth Decoction”.  This is possible because  the word for birth in Chinese is 生 Sheng and giving birth is sometimes referred to as the 大化 Da Hua or Great Transformation. (see Formulas and Strategies).  At any rate, this formula is truly excellent for post partum, post miscarriage and post termination patients.

In my own practice I have used Sheng Hua Tang more times than I can count.  I have found it very useful and helpful. I think of it as a formula that ensures that the uterus is clear, clean and warm after birth.  The healthy condition of the uterus after birth can help ensure good breast milk flow and help prevent post partum fever and depression.

Various doctors over time have created their own versions of Sheng Hua Tang.  Liu Feng-Wu created his Chan Hou Sheng Hua Tang Post Partum Generate and Transform Decoction and Dr. Xia Gui-Cheng created his own Jia Jian Sheng Hua Tang Sheng Hua Tang with Additions and Subtractions.

Below I have posted a translation of Dr. Xia Gui-Cheng’s writings on his understanding of Sheng Hua Tang.  He includes some very relevant research.  I especially like his explanation of how this formula treats the Spleen and Stomach in order to ensure the production of fresh blood.  He also goes into a great discussion of Pao Jiang.

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Posted in Classic Formulas, Experiential Formulas, Famous Doctors, Obstetrics, Xia Guisheng | 6 Comments

Soma’s Pediatric Course

We just finished our three day weekend with Soma. This weekend inaugurated our pediatric series beautifully and it was such a pleasure to study with her. The first two days of the course were didactic and the third day we began to practice and learn the Shonishin techniques she uses in her own practice. I think the whole group got much more comfortable with the tools and techniques of shonishin. Here are some photos from the class: Continue reading

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Guest Post: Raven Lang on Threatened Miscarriage

Raven Lang was a midwife before she was a practitioner of Chinese medicine.  My first introduction to Raven was through an article she wrote for Mothering Magazine on “Mother Roasting”.  I had considered and even pursued midwifery as a path for a while and Raven was one of my role models.

When reading this case, consider the difference between 1985 and our current times in terms of available literature and training.  What really impresses me about this case is Raven’s strong intuitive knowledge of women’s physiology, the physiology of pregnancy and birth as well as the basic concepts of Chinese medicine.


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Using The Finger Pulse During Birth

To continue on the theme of birthing, I was recently editing video from the last Graduate Mentorship Program.  The video I am currently working on is from the part of the program on pregnancy and labor. I was reminded about Dr. Qiu Xiao-mei’s use of the “finger pulse” as a diagnostic tool during labor.  It can give the doctor a reading on the woman’s readiness to give birth, the dilation of the cervix and the strength behind the contractions.  I have translated and read case studies in which the finger pulse is used but I had never read anything in particular about it’s meaning or how to do it.  I decided to do a bit of a query to some knowledgable friends of mine.  I got a lengthy reply from Steven Clavey.  He sent me a descriptive passage in Chinese that I translated this morning as well as a diagram and a few words of his own.  I’ve included all this here and have also added a couple of cases of Dr. Qiu Xiao-mei to illustrate her use of the finger pulse.  In the first case the finger pulse was weak and this indicated to Dr. Qiu that a strong tonification method was necessary.  In the second case, the finger pulse was strong but did not extend to the finger tip.  This indicated a case of stagnation and so strong abducting herbs were given.

It is interesting to note the use of Quinine as an agent to induce labor.  Because quinine has this effect, it cannot be used to treat malaria in pregnant women.  There are many writings about how to treat women who contract malaria during pregnancy with Chinese herbs because quinine is contraindicated.

So here it is….

Continue reading

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A Case of Difficult Birth

Here is another interesting case from Dr. Yuan Ming-Zhong 原明忠 of Shan Xi.

As Dr. Yuan says below, most cases of difficult birth end up as cesarean sections.  In this case, the woman had an allergy to any type of drugs which made both Pitocin and surgery unavailable as viable options.  This case and the one in the last post make me think of how much wisdom Chinese medicine carries that should not be lost.  With the advent of high technology in the world of birthing, there is a risk much of this could be lost.

Kai Gu San (Open the Bones Powder) modified to treat difficult birthing by Dr. Yuan Ming-Zhong

Ms. Guan, age 29

Main Complaint: Ms. Guan’s water had broken on March 4, 1982 and so she entered the obstetric ward of the hospital.  On March 5, she passed some blood which spontaneously stopping on the afternoon of March 6.  She was not aware of any fetal movements.  On March 8th, the obstetrician did a check up and saw that her pelvis was relatively small.  The fetal heart tones were low.  They wanted to do a caesarian section but Ms. Guan had an allergy to both the anesthesia and to antibiotics so she was unable to have surgery.  She also had an allergy to Pitocin so a Traditional doctor was consulted.

Check up:  Her complexion was yellowish, her emotional state was keyed up, she sweat from her forehead at times and her tongue was red with white moss.  Her pulse was deep and slightly slippery and fast.

Diagnosis: Serious difficult labor

Treatment Method: Open the bones to hasten labor

Formula: Modified Kai Gu San

Dang Gui                   30

Chuan Xiong             24

Zhi Gui Ban               30

Yi Mu Cao                  30

Simmer in water two times.  Divide into 2 doses and drink on an empty stomach.  Her family was advised to take the utmost care in observing her, carefully recording her responses to the herbs so that necessary adjustments could be made.

On the afternoon of March 8th, at 2:00 she began the herbs.  At 4:00 she began to have lower abdominal pain and the desire to move her bowels.  She went to the toilet twice.  In the evening at 8:00 she again took the herbs and had lower abdominal pain.  Compared to the afternoon, the pain was lighter.  After taking the herbs again at 2:00 a.m. on the 9th, she had stronger lower abdominal pain and the urge to move her bowels which she did 3 times.  That evening after taking the herbs she had light abdominal pain.  On the 10th she reacted to the herbs in the same way as before.  Each time she took the herbs she had abdominal pain (Uterine Contractions) about two hours later.  However, the interval between contractions was still too long and the exam showed that she was not opening.  On the afternoon of the 10th she was given two doses of herbs.  I decided to give her two packages in one day, which meant giving her one dose every 6 hours.  After each dose there was lower abdominal labor pains for several minutes and the interval in between contractions was a half hour.  This came with an urge to move her bowels and urinate.  The abdominal pain became more intense and the urge to move her bowels was constant.  On the 11th, after taking the herbs, the pain became stronger with a bearing down feeling. Intermittently the contractions were very strong and urgent.  At 3:00 in the afternoon of the 12th the interval between contractions was still ½ an hour.  By 4:00 it had become more frequent with the interval between contractions at every 1-2 minutes and by 5:00 the interval was half a minute.  Each contraction was lasting 4-5 minutes.  At this time the cervix was 3 fingers dilated and by 10:00 that evening, it was 10 fingers dilated.  At midnight she gave birth to a baby boy.

Due to the fact that this woman’s pelvic bones were small, after the birth a 2-centimeter  fracture was discovered.  This affected the woman’s gait.  I gave her Liu Wei Di Huang Tang with Xu Duan, Gu Sui Bu, Zi Ran Tong, Bu Gu Zhi and Mu Gua.  After 9 packages of this she was cured.


Difficult birth is a serious pathology.  These days, when there is a difficult birth a cesarean section is usually performed and there is very little use of Chinese herbs for this.  In this case however, due to the patient’s allergy to western drugs, surgery was not an option.  Instead I used modified Kai Gu San (Open the Bones Powder) and the result was good.

Kai Gu San (Open the Bones Powder) is from the Yī Zōng Jīn Jiàn (Golden Mirror of the Medical Tradition) – Essential Tricks of the Trade for Gynecology.  The original formula includes Dang Gui, Chuan Xiong, Gui Ban and Fu Fa Hui (?).  For this case, I removed the Fu Fa Hui and added Yi Mu Cao.  Dang Gui and Chuan Xiong nourish and move the blood.  In small dosages they will calm the fetus while in large doses, they will induce uterine contractions and promote birth.  Yi Mu Cao is able to increase uterine contractions.  Gui Ban nourishes Yin Qi so as to open the bones.  When used together, these herbs are effective for opening the bones and hastening labor.  The Ji Yin Gang Mu (A Compendium of Female Disorders) argues that Yin Qi deficiency is the cause of the joining bones not opening.  This is why Kai Gu San uses Gui Ban.  It is also said that another cause of difficult birth is small joining bones.

Chinese medicine can be effective for difficult birth.  However, if the pelvic bones are small, it can be difficult for the baby to be delivered and this is also difficult to treat.





Posted in Famous Doctors, Gynecology, Obstetrics, Opening Through, Yuan Mingzhong | 2 Comments