A Match to the Heart

In the last blog entry I introduced the book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth.  That being a text on the Earth element, this next book is a text of the Fire element.  I know I promised fiction and that is coming……

If you have never read anything by Gretel Ehrlich, you are in for a delicious encounter.  Gretel was already a luminous nature writer when she wrote books such as Islands, the Universe, Home and The Solace of Open Spaces

Then one day, up in the mountains hiking with her two dogs, (something I can relate to though I am usually with 3 or 4 dogs) she was struck by lightening. In her memoir

A Match to the Heart: One Woman’s Story of Being Struck By Lightning she recounts the experience, often with great attention to the minute details of the sensual experience of being in an electrocuted body. She writes:

An intake of breath is not just oxygen, a pulse is not just the rush of blood but also the taking in of divinity through an orifice, and as it moves through, it become s a spark.  To be inspired is to have accepted spirit in the lungs and heart, to watch it circulate through miles of blood vessels and capillaries whose tiny fenestrations allow oxygen, nutrients, and grace to leak into the tissues of muscle and consciousness, then be taken up again, reoxygenated, and returned. Continue reading

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Recommended Books

I like to read.  Like all serious students of Chinese medicine, my bedside table supports a stack of Chinese medical texts – right now Chip Chace’s An Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels: Acupuncture, Alchemy, and Herbal Medicine with an issue of The Lantern.  However, I do like to read other types of liturature, both fiction and non-fiction.  Some of these books, though not explicitly about Chinese medicine, are actually expressive of some of the most foundational principles of Chinese medicine.  I have found some to be illuminating and inspiring.  I thought a blog entry about some of my favorites might be interesting to the readers.

A favorite of mine is Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth

This wonderful book by William Bryant Logan is, as you might guess, all about dirt.  It is also all about the Earth element and the function of the Spleen and Stomach.  Reading this text you will see how Fire interacts with Earth, how Earth controls and directs Water and the relationship of Earth to the heavenly skies and the essence of life.  It is as if Mr. Logan studied human physiology except that the body he describes is the body of the Earth.  You will finish this text with an ability to take a walk in the woods or on the oceanside and see the very same dynamics at play that you see in your clinic every day…

Another book that has influenced me considerably in my medical studies and practice is a book of essays entitled Being Bodies edited by Lenore Friedman and Susan Moon.  It is a text of Buddhist essays addressing the “Paradox of Embodiment” by women.  How do we accept our bodies and our pain while also deeply wishing to and attempting to heal? Can our patient’s suffering be a gateway to something greater that we can help catalyze?  How do we work with the awareness of the inevitability of impermanence, decay and death while working to improve the condition of the body?  The writing is beautiful and personal.  I savored every essay.

I will write another post soon with a couple of other book suggestions…The next one will be fiction so stay tuned.  I would love to hear what books others have found instructive for their Chinese medical practices.

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I discovered a great blog

Watch the Si Ni San Presentation!

I recently discovered a new blog by a man named Eran Even from British Columbia, Canada.  It is primarily a case study blog with an emphasis on classic formulas.  I found it totally by accident.  It’s a gem of a blog!  You can access it here.

Eran is interested in many doctors.  He has done several excellent entries by one doctor in particular, Dr. Hu Xi-shu.  Coincidentally, Dr. Huang Huang mentioned Dr. Hu over the last weekend.  He was talking with us about Da Chai Hu Tang and how it can be combined with other formulas to treat bronchial asthma (only if there is strong abdominal pain on pressure).  One combination he mentioned was with Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan.  He told us that this combination, Da Chai Hu Tang and Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan was taught to him by none other than Dr. Hu Xi-shu!

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Excerpt on Si Ni San from the Huang Huang weekend

You can access this presentation here.

The weekend with Dr. Huang was so rich.  Here is a picture of our group.  (click on it for a larger view) Notice that my daughter, Zoe, is in the picture with the green sweater.  She has become a real sinophile and is even becoming interested in Chinese medicine.  Through highschool she studied Chinese at Mt. Holyoke college, finishing 3rd year there.  She will be a freshman this autumn at Middlebury College, wanting to continue in Chinese and add another language (possibly Arabic!).    She acted as the driver/hostess/interpreter for the Huang’s, coming to all of our dinners and sitting in on class.

A formula such as Si Ni San is a sort of picture or mirror image of a certain type of person with certain types of problems.

Before moving into the topic of cancer and autoimmune illnesses, Dr. Huang began the teachings by discussing some of the most foundational formulas from the Shang Han Lun.  These are the formulas he finds the most useful in his own practice.  It is clear from these teachings that formulas contain important clinical keys.  So, a formula such as Si Ni San is a sort of picture or mirror image of a certain type of person with certain types of problems.  Formulas are explored in this way when you study with Dr. Huang Huang.

To clarify this idea, I’ve put a link up of an excerpt from the first day with Dr. Huang in which is talking about Si Ni San.  The interpreter is Eric Brand.  You can access this presentation here.   I’ll be posting more excerpts and the entire course will be available soon.  Stay tuned!

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Dr. Huang sings out about classic formulas!

We have finished two of the three days with Dr. Huang here in Amherst.  It’s been a wonderful long weekend with Dr. Huang and his wife, Pu.  The weather has been glorious with cool good sleeping nights so we all arrive well rested.  I’ll be putting up some clips of the weekend here in the next couple of weeks to show some of the many gems Dr. Huang has shared.

However, we must introduce the weekend with Dr. Huang’s own song about classic formulas!

Dr. Huang wrote the words and is singing the song.  His younger brother wrote and performs the music in the background.  We recorded this here over the weekend.

Continue reading

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Si Ni San Drink

On our first day of class, Dr. Huang went into great depth about Si Ni San.  He talked about the presentation that matches Si Ni San and gave us a variety of useful modifications.  Just before lunch he taught us a recipe for patients to make at home that will have a similar action to Si Ni San.  Here is the recipe:

Lemon juice



Mei Gui Hua

The amounts of each ingredient can vary depending on the preferences of the person drinking.

Our garden here has a patch of lemon ginger mint so we poured some hot water of a mix of fresh lemon ginger mint and Mei Gui Hua and after it steeped we mixed in a lot of cold water, lemon and honey.  Everyone had a cup of this delicious drink.  We all agreed that someone should market this!  Yummy and relaxing.

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Healing Wounds

I just returned from teaching in Seattle.  During the class we discussed the use of Bai Ji Bletilla Rhizoma as an herb that not only helps wounds knit, but also clears out the old and rotten.  In a previous blog entry we saw Bai Ji being used in Dr. Qiu Xiaomei’s formula Supplementing Certainty where she described its function as follows:

Bai Ji Rhizoma Bletillae Striata is astringent and can cause closure. It also has the ability to rid the rotten, drive out the congealed and generate the new.

She is referring to what happens when the placenta begins to separate from the wall of the uterus.  The surface of both the uterus and placenta start to dry and congeal.  This is the rotten she is speaking of.  In addition, the rotten Bai Ji helps to rid can also refer to pus and gook that is in the open space of wounds.  Bai Ji helps to clear this so that fresh surfaces remain that can re-adhere to each other.

Continue reading

Posted in Experiential Formulas, Gynecology, Individual Herbs, Obstetrics, Qiu Xiaomei | 2 Comments

Dysmenorrhea Case Work-up

During the Graduate Mentorship Program weekend on dysmenorrhea, we went over cases in order to practice the skills we had just learned.  After going over cases recorded by a variety of well know Chinese medical gynecologists, we went over several cases that had been written up by students.

One of these student cases is the content of this next post.  I turned it into an online presentation that can be viewed


I hope you enjoy this!


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New Blog and Websites

The old website was built initially in 1998 and was sort of a dionasaur

Hello all,

For the last month I have been holed up in front of my computer trying to learn the software I needed to recreate this blog and recreate the whole White Pine Website.  The old website was built initially in 1998 and was sort of a dionasaur – pages built on pages with umpteen links to keep track of and it was just plain hard to navigate.  The blog also had significant limitations.

So a month later and hours and hours of tutorials on wordpress and joomla, the new sites are finished! Continue reading

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Ten Key Formula Families for Cancer

I created this presentation to give you all a chance to see how I’ve applied Dr. Huang Huang’s work for cancer patients.  Dr. Huang Huang is coming to teach at White Pine Healing Arts this July for 3 days on this topic.  I’m really excited for this course.  Already, his teachings on the 10 key formula families has influenced my work with patients suffering from cancer in such a positive way.  I’ve tried to illustrate this in this presentation.  My hope is that this will inspire students and practitioners to study with Dr. Huang.

To access the presentation click here

To get information about Dr. Huang Huang’s July course click here

For information about the 10 Key Formula Family online course click here

Posted in Cancer, Classic Formulas, Famous Doctors, Huang Huang, Theory and Practice | Tagged , , | 1 Comment