TCM Herbal Medicine

2015 Dr. Youyou Tu won Nobel prize for her contribution in developing novel malaria therapies with Traditional Chinese herbal medicine. Her search catches everyone’s eye. Not only on this dangerous disease, TCM herbal medicine can only work on many different common disease such as flu. We are happy to have Professor Bill Schoenbart, to give us a introduction on Traditional Chinese Herbal medicine. When you study Chinese herbs, you’ll learn the individual functions of each herb. Every herb’s unique. You’ll learn them within therapeutic categories, and then you’ll learn the energetic properties. All this helps the practitioner to formulate an effective formula. So here’s the example I gave of warming herbs. There’s some ginger, some black pepper. Especially ginger is in many, many formulas.

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This is Bill Schoenbart. I graduated from Five Branches University’s Master’s program at the end of 1991, and I was a graduate of their first DAOM doctoral program in 2009. And I really enjoy learning here. Many of my teachers are actually still with the school. Some of them have passed, but I wanna express my gratitude to them, first of all, for even exposing me to this amazing medicine.

00:39 SB: So I’m gonna give you just a brief history of Chinese herbal medicine, and this history is strictly Materia Medicas. Materia Medicas are the pharmacopoeias of a traditional medicine. There are many other herbal, therapeutic text as well as these. This is just showing how the amount of herbs and substances being used as medicine have increased over the years. So the first true Materia Medica was the Shén Nóng Bencao Jing. It’s also called The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica. And the legend is that the emperor tried 100 substances to see which ones were toxic, which ones were therapeutic. The real story is we will never really know. But this particular book is actually still available now, in fact a new translation just came out. So even though this thing is ancient, we’re still using the information from the text. So this was completed in the third century AD, and there’s 250 herbs, 45 minerals and 67 animal substances. And before we get moving talking about the amount of plants and herbs and animal substances, I wanna assure you it’s possible to get these herbs in a very clean, non-toxic, unpolluted form, and it is absolutely not necessary to use any endangered species in Chinese medicine.

02:17 SB: So the next Materia Medica, the Tang Materia Medica, was put together in the Tang Dynasty in the year 659, and already by that time there were 844 entries. When I say entries from here on, it means mostly herbs but some minerals and animal parts. Then in 1108, the Materia Medica Arranged according to Pattern, this was the Song Dynasty, and this already had over 1,500 entries. In relatively modern times, 1596, the Grand Materia Medica was put together by the famous herbalist, Li Shi-Zhen. It has over 1,800 entries. Li Shi-Zhen is a very revered herbalist. When you go to schools of Chinese medicine in China, you’ll see large statues of Li Shi-Zhen. He’s a very, very revered person. Next, in modern times, in 1977, the Jiangsu College of New Medicine compiled the Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Medicinal Substances. It took almost 25 years to put this together, and it has 5,700 entries. And this text, once you start seeing these large amounts, this includes rare species, local plants that are just used in certain villages. So these are meant to be, as it says, encyclopedias of Materia Medica. And you’ll see later that we actually use much less in actual practice.

03:51 SB: The most recent ones, after that, was the Chinese Materia Medica in 2002. It has almost 9,000 entries. But once again, many of those are rare, regional, and not used anymore. The Materia Medica textbook that’s most commonly used is by Dan Bensky, and that has 480 principal entries and 52 additional herbs that are briefly discussed. And the modern Chinese pharmacopoeia, the PPRC, the Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China, also has a similar amount of entries. So these are actual amounts of herbs that are used commonly in clinical practice. And you’ll also see at Five Branches in the Herbology program, approximately 450 herbs are taught and are used in formulas. What I’ve just summarized are Materia Medicas, which are basically pharmacopoeias that list all the medicines that are used. The actual text for practicing herbal medicine are different, and they include formulas. The Nei Jing had very little in the way of herbs. It was mostly theory. It was the beginning of the theory of Chinese medicine. The Shang Han Lun, written by the great genius, Zhang Zhong-Jing, is one of the more famous formula texts. It’s almost 2,000 years old and we still use most of his formulas today. Zhang was practicing at a time when many, many epidemics were going through China.

05:30 SB: At one point, a large percentage or majority of his family died from various epidemics. So he put together the Shang Han Lun. Shang Han Lun means hurt by cold text. And he put that together to show how an influence from outside the body can attack the body, and how it will have certain qualities and penetrate the different stages. We’ll look at that a little bit later when we look specifically at the herbal medicine theory. He later wrote a book called the Jin Gui, which had other miscellaneous diseases, had about 1,000 years later various texts on worm diseases were written. So there’s many, many actual therapeutic manuals besides this list. This list was just to give you an idea of how many herbs have been used over time. So here’s just a few images to look at. The top left is from Five Branches University. In fact, all of them, except for the top right, are from Five Branches Santa Cruz campus, where I teach. And we have, as you can see, that one drawer showing four different… Although you’re only seeing two, four different herbs. Some of them will have just one. And it’s arranged according to therapeutic category. So if you’re working on a certain formula, and you’re looking for example, warmingers for someone who has a cold pattern, you can go to the warming section and select from all those drawers that are grouped together.

07:00 SB: You’ll base it on a traditional formula, and actually add some things based on the person’s individual pattern. You’ll see down the lower left, that’s the patent medicine cabinet, various teapills, which are probably the most familiar form to people outside the Chinese medicine world. This would be like the Chinese version of over-the-counter drugs, although they have those too. So just someone who has familiarity with certain remedies could go into a herb store and pick these up. And these are generally not the strongest method of administration, but they’re convenient, they’re inexpensive and you can always do a larger dose. The upper right image, I took that around 2000 in the Guangzhou herb market; a very, very large herb market that back then was dealing in hundreds and hundreds of tons of herbs. And it’s just a different world over in China where herbal medicine is part of the mainstream, and in fact, you can even go to a TCM hospital and get herbal prescriptions there. This particular market actually supply the local hospital. It was a military hospital that was also a TCM hospital, and I was actually… Some soldiers accompanied me there, and the one soldier was saying they used over 100 tons of just one herb from that market for a year in the local TCM hospital. So it’s a very, very mainstream practice over there.

08:36 SB: So one of the great things about Chinese herbal medicine is that we have energetic properties of herbs. One reason I wanted to study a traditional system of herbal medicine is that, in the ’60s, I was studying medicinal herbs with various practitioners and it didn’t have a very coherent theory of diagnosis and treatment. It was fairly haphazard. I love Western herbs, they are wonderful, they are local, you can easily get them organic. And once you learn Chinese medicine, if you want, you can plug some Western herbs into your formulas. But generally speaking, the Chinese formulas are very, very effective in their standalone form. And these energetic properties make it much more useful. For example, people are always asking acupuncturists “What’s good for a cough?” And they’re gonna say “What kind of cough? Is it heat, cold, hot phlegm, cold phlegm, damp phlegm, exterior wind cold, interior deficiency of the lung and kidneys?” And those are all different types of coughs in Chinese medicine. They require completely different herbs.

09:47 SB: So some of the temperatures are hot, warm, neutral, cool, and cold. And I’m sure even if you thought about it just from your kitchen, “What are some hot herbs?” Well probably ginger, black pepper. And you’ll actually find those in the Materia Medica, with those energetics. But these will actually have this effect in the body. So for example, if someone has a cold condition where they feel cold all the time, always runny nose, waking up at night to urinate, fatigued, then they’re gonna use this hot tonifying herbs that’ll bring up the cold energy in the body and warm them up. Sooner or later, if someone has a high fever, they’re gonna use cold herbs to bring that temperature down. And there’s multiple categories or therapeutic categories which we’ll look at later, that will also direct which herb you’re gonna use besides the temperature. There’s also various flavors or tastes. Acrid, which is also called pungent and spicy, sour, bitter, salty, sweet, bland, aromatic, astringent, and all these flavors have specific properties in the body. The acrid herbs, for example, have moving and dispersing characteristics. Some of them will move chi, your vital energy in the body. When chi gets stuck, you might have bloating or distention or fullness.

11:13 SB: So you wanna get that energy moving again to disperse those… That stagnation. So acrid herbs are used for that. If there is blood stagnation, you can also use some acrid herbs for that. External pathogens would mean, for example, say you’re coming down with a common cold and you’re feeling very, very chilled, stiff neck, body aches, just feeling miserable, you can use warm acrid herbs that’ll disperse that and actually bring a cure much faster than if you just… There’s the joke saying in the West that, “If you take something for a cold, it’ll go a way in a week. If you leave it alone, it’ll go away in seven days.” Meaning that Western medicine doesn’t have a whole lot for colds and flu, other than symptomatic treatment. I can tell you that Chinese medicine is very, very effective in treating colds and flu. Now someone comes down with full-blown pneumonia, then they might wanna go to the hospital and get treated. But in the early stage of a cold, if you treat it with the proper formula, you can sometimes get rid of them in a day or two, just depending on how long someone waited to get treatment. So acrid herbs are very, very effective for that.

12:28 SB: Sweet flavors are what’s called tonifying or harmonizing. The most well-known sweet herb is licorice. It’s called gan cao, which means, gan means sweet, cao means herb. So the name means sweet herb, which is… If you’ve ever tasted licorice, it’s extremely sweet. And that’s a harmonizing herb. That can be used to harmonize two different internal organs that aren’t agreeing with each other. It can harmonize the exterior of the body with the interior. It can even harmonize the herbs within a formula if they have radically different properties, which is why you’ll see it in many, many different formulas in Chinese medicine. Tonifying herbs are ones that will strengthen the body, strengthen the immune system, give energy, and this is one of the great gifts of Chinese medicine. There is very little in the way of tonifying substances in western medicine, maybe a B12 shot or something like that, or vitamins. But in Chinese medicine, we have tonifying substances that will actually strengthen the function of the body, build energy, improve internal organ function, and help balance chronic long-term debilities.

13:40 SB: So examples of some sweet ones that you may have experienced would be astragalus. It kinda looks like a tongue depressor. Very, very sweet herb. You can even make an immune system soup with it. Boil some astragalus, then make your soup. You can pull the astragalus out, and not only do you have a soup that’s healthy, but you’ve also got something in it that will stimulate the immune system. And you can actually… If you’re the kind of person that gets frequent colds and flu, there is a formula called Jade Screen, and astragalus is the chief herb in that. And people who take a formula like that, who have frequent colds, they’ll find they get less and less frequent.

14:21 SB: One of my patients is a schoolteacher, and she was basically in Santa Cruz, this part of California. In normal years, it starts raining and getting cold in about October, and it can run till about April or May. And she would basically have one cold after another from October till May. So I would give her herbs to get rid of the cold, but as soon as her cold would go away, I would give her a formula based on Jade Screen with some ginseng in it, another sweet tonifying herb. And she got to the point where the first year maybe she caught three colds, second year one. And then every year since then, she just catches cold once and just takes the herbs during the cold and flu season. So that would be an example of two different categories, the moving and dispersing one to get rid of a cold, the tonifying one to strengthen the system so you’re less likely to catch one. That’s one of the… In my opinion one of the great gifts of Chinese medicine is tonifying herbs. Being able to strengthen the body is an amazing gift from the ancient Chinese culture.

15:26 SB: Another flavor is sour. That’s astringent, stabilizes body fluids. So someone who’s sweating a lot, frequent urination, anything like that, where they’re losing what we call the vital substances, sour herbs can help astringent stabilize when they’re given along with tonifying herbs. Bitter flavor, which can be difficult for some people to take, they can be drying, reducing, downward moving. They can clear heat. They are used often for infections and inflammation. And often I’ll put those in capsules for patients. Not everybody can handle bitter flavor, some people can. The salty flavor in Chinese herbal medicine is considered softening or reducing, downward moving, so it can be used for masses and lumps in the body. Also herbs are sometimes prepared in salt to direct their action down to the kidneys.

16:21 SB: The bland flavor, which is no flavor, but bland also has a property of promoting urination and draining dampness. So if someone has edema, dampness, bland herbs like Job’s Tears, which looks like barley, or Poria, Fu Ling, which is a medicinal mushroom, these will actually help the body get rid of this accumulation of fluid. Aromatic is similar to acrid, but it can also do what’s called transforming dampness. If someone has… They’ll have a thick greasy tongue coat, nausea, vomiting, heavy sensation, we’ll give them actually herbs like patchouli internally, or magnolia bark. And the aroma will pierce through this dampness, and they’ll get better much quicker.

17:05 SB: Finally, astringent herbs will prevent leakage of fluids. Sour has an astringent property, but astringent herbs themselves are very powerful to restrain leakage. So for example, ephedra, ma huang, which you may have heard about. Since it was being misused, you may have heard about it in the news. Chinese herbalists never had a problem with it ’cause they prescribed it according to specific conditions, proper dosage. But when it was being used for exercise or weight loss, people were overdoing it and they were having trouble with it. Well one of its properties is that it promotes sweating. Well the interesting thing is the root of the herb, the underground part, stops sweating. So you’ve got two different pharmacological properties, depending on which part of the plant you use.

17:51 SB: So when you study Chinese herbs, you’ll learn the individual functions of each herb. Every herb’s unique. You’ll learn them within therapeutic categories, and then you’ll learn the energetic properties. All this helps the practitioner to formulate an effective formula. So here’s the example I gave of warming herbs. There’s some ginger, some black pepper. Especially ginger is in many, many formulas. Harmonizes the stomach, warms the middle burner, we say, which helps the digestive function. Black pepper in Chinese medicine also warms the middle burner. Modern studies have shown black pepper contains a compound called piperine. Piperine actually enhances the body absorption of nutrients. Sometimes you’ll see, for example, turmeric extract combined with piperine because the yellow compound in turmeric, curcuminoids, are very difficult for the body to absorb efficiently. Add some black pepper extract, and it’s absorbed better. So your parents actually were herbalists. They put black pepper on their food, they are actually helping your body absorb nutrients. In America, salt and pepper are our two main spices. Luckily one of them is very, very powerful.

19:08 SB: So the parts of plants have tendencies. The peels of herbs can enter visual superficial areas of the body and treat edema. Twigs and branches can treat the limbs and meridians. For example, cinnamon branches can treat the branches of the body, can treat stiffness in the arms and legs. Same thing with the branch of mulberry tree. Vines and stems can also stop blockage in the meridians. B pain, B means blockage. So arthritis, for example, swollen, sore joints; lots of vines and stems can improve circulation for those joints. Seeds tend to be heavier in weight and have more of a descending tendency in the body. ‘Cause you’ll also learn in Chinese medicine, herbs have a tendency to send energy in different directions. Oily seeds can also help with constipation. Flowers tend to be light in weight, have an ascending tendency. For example, chrysanthemum, ju hua, can be used for red eyes; for a number of problems, heat, liver deficiency, many, many problems. Chrysanthemum is very useful. Minerals are heavy and they have a descending tendency. So some minerals are used with someone who has high blood pressure, what we call liver yang rising; red face, red eyes, splitting headache. So these minerals are for example like oyster shell, shells in minerals, they will descend this energy. We also use things like magnetite for tinnitus, which is also yang disturbing the head.

20:45 SB: So there’s lots of dosage forms in Chinese medicine, and delivery methods. Decoctions or tongue, this is the most powerful method where you’ll actually boil herbs. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but you’ll get a bag of herbs, you put it in a pot. Put in four, five, six cups of water, boil it for half an hour, strain it. And you’ll drink that over the course of one or two days, depending on the condition. What you’re seeing in the image here, this is a decoction that’s put in pouch form. Very few practitioners have these. There’s a couple of places, one in LA, one in New York City. I believe there’s a Korean practitioner who works with Five Branches who has one of these. And you’ll cook the decoction in a large pressure cooker, and then it gets sealed in one of these packets. And these are fairly stable for about a month. If you’re going to warm weather, I would say try to get them in refrigeration. What I’ll do is, for myself, I have one that I use periodically. I just make ’em up and then freeze them. In fact, the packet you’re seeing there is one of mine that I pulled out of the freezer. Then just take it out, and let it thaw out, and just pour it and drink it.

22:02 SB: So it eliminates the need for cooking the herbs. I’ve offered it to some patients, and they actually like cooking the herbs. They like the routine. And cooking your own, it’s gonna be a little fresher too. But this is used in China quite a bit. They will send it home with patients. One of my mentors, Mazin, who has a dermatology clinic in London, has multiple machines like this, and he sends all his patients home with these packages. These are something that any practitioner can order for you if you ever wanted it.

22:34 SB: Powders or san. Originally, these were ground-up herbs. They would grind the herbs, and then they would simmer them in water. So the dosages tend to be lower because there’s more surface area. Nowadays we also have powdered extracts, sometimes called granules, where they’ll cook it… This is on an industrial scale, they’ll cook the herbs in a large vessel. Then they’ll spray it into a tower, and there’ll be a little hot tornado in the tower, and these little flakes come down like snow. And these are packaged in 100-gram bottles, where you can take it by the scoop, or it can be in capsules. And it’s a very powerful dosage form, not quite as strong as decoctions, but quite effective. Pills, wan, those are the little round teapills you may have seen. Special pills, dan, usually there’s very expensive materials or toxic materials in those. So they’re very tiny and they’re only used rarely. Syrups, like gao, you’ll see that… Like cough syrup, the honey loquat cough syrup. Medicinal wines, jiu, these are often used for conditions like arthritis ’cause the wine itself will actually have a blood-invigorating property. And plasters, gao, different gao from syrup, these are actually applied topically. These days, they just have them where you peel the back off and put them on a sore area. In the old days, it would be on skin. You’d have to heat it up and apply it.

24:00 SB: So Chinese medicine has therapeutic categories. I’m only gonna go through these quickly ’cause I could easily take three hours talking about these. But this is how your medical text is organized, and also the formulas text. So herbs that release an exterior are ones that are used for cold and flu. There’s warm ones that are used for cold-type flu, where you’re chilled. There’s cool ones that are used for hot-type cold and flu, where you have a fever and sore throat. Then there’s herbs that clear heat; ones that are for high fevers; one that if the body just tends to run warm chronically; toxic heat, where there’s infections or skin diseases; damp heat, where there’s discharges; and many, many different types of heat-clearing herbs. Downward draining herbs, these are laxatives. There is both normal ones that you might have heard of, like rhubarb or senna. And then there’s lubricating ones, which are oily seeds, which are more for someone who has internal dryness. Herbs that drain dampness or broadly speaking, diuretics. Herbs that dispel wind dampness, these are for joint pain, especially arthritis. Very effective. Herbs that transform phlegm and stop coughing. We have herbs for heat phlegm, which is yellow and sticky; cold phlegm, which they have chills; and clear phlegm. General antitussive herbs that stop the cough reflex.

25:23 SB: Aromatic herbs that transform dampness for nausea, vomiting. Herbs that relieve food stagnation from when food’s just sitting in your stomach. Herbs that regulate the chi, that’s for chi stagnation: Distention, fullness in various parts of the body. Herbs that regulate the blood, either for blood stasis, for example injuries or severe menstrual cramping or even bleeding. Herbs that warm the interior and expel cold, we’ve looked at a little bit. Things like black pepper, ginger actually can warm the body up and get organ function going properly. The tonifying herbs, we talked about. We have herbs that tonify chi or vital energy; yin, which are more nourishing and cooling; yang, which are energizing and warming. And blood, herbs that will actually increase the blood count. Often after someone gets chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, they’ll come to an acupuncturist and will get herbs that tonify chi and blood. It’ll get their energy back, and their blood count will come back to normal much faster that way.

26:29 SB: Herbs that stabilize and bind, we talked about those, that’s to keep the body from losing various fluids. Substances to calm the spirit. These are for extreme agitation, or just mild insomnia or irritability. Substances that extinguish wind and stop tremors are for what’s called internal wind, shaking and tremors. Herbs that expel parasites, self-explanatory. Substances for topical application, these are for skin issues. For example, poison oak, I see a lot of poison oak patients in the winter ’cause the leaves are gone. So I’ll give them internal herbs that they take to clear this heat and dampness from their body, and external herbs to make the rash go away quicker. And quite effective for poison oak.

27:16 SB: So here’s a picture of me in my private practice. I have a very small clinic, just about 300 square feet, but I still have about 150 bulk herbs, a couple hundred formulas. So even in a small space, it’s possible to have a pretty large pharmacy. So I know my time’s running short. Just wanna mention that there’s nothing to believe in in Chinese medicine, everything can be supported by clinical practice, clinical results, and even modern science. Here’s a couple of older studies that just shows the use of ginseng, the function of tonifying chi. This one for COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They gave a small amount of ginseng extract, 100 milligrams twice a day for three months. And in the treatment group, they had improvement in all these pulmonary function tests. No adverse effects.

28:14 SB: Here’s another study with soccer players. Took 350 milligrams of ginseng or placebo everyday for six weeks. The ginseng group was found to have a shorter reaction time to multiple choice exercises during physical exercise. So ginseng can improve both physical and mental performance. So basically they gave them multiple choice questions while they were exercising, and they did better on the questions. So better physical and mental endurance. And there’s quite a few Chinese herbs that’ll do that. So here’s the contact info for Five Branches. There’s the website, the address, and the phone number for both the Santa Cruz and San Jose clinics. Thank you. Any questions?

29:02 Speaker 2 Or Audience Member: We have questions about it.

29:04 SB: So we do have questions.

29:10 Speaker 3: So Bill, Debbie asks, could you describe what wind dampness is a little bit more please?

29:17 SB: Wind dampness has two different manifestations. First of all, there’s wind damp by itself. There’s wind damp heat, and wind damp cold. Let’s look at just wind damp. On the skin, this would be a rash that comes and goes, came on suddenly and has some oozing to it. If it’s internally in the joints and muscles, this would be similar to arthritis, but it doesn’t have to be arthritis, where wind means it comes and goes, comes on suddenly, moves around, and you’ll often seen that with someone with arthritis. Maybe their right elbow will hurt one day, the left one one day, both of them another day, neither of them another day, then their knee will hurt. That’s the nature of wind in Chinese medicine, where something can come and go, and move around and change. Damp will actually cause the stagnation, which causes the pain. Damp blocks the flow of vital energy. You might even see the joints swelling in that case. So herbs that expel wind damp will actually make the condition come and go less frequently, and gradually the swelling and pain goes down. So when severe, disformed joints after a lifetime of arthritis, that’s not gonna be rectified. The pain can be. But if you catch it early, you can prevent it. I actually had rheumatoid arthritis when I was in my 20s, and I was able to get rid of that. I’m 65 now, and it’s never come back.

30:49 S3: Awesome. Alright, there’s another question. Nathan asks, what’s the most challenging case you’ve treated with TCM herbology?

30:56 SB: I would say the most challenging would be the ones that I didn’t get satisfactory results. Fortunately in the vast majority of cases, I’ll either get complete resolution of a condition or enough improvement that the patient is happy. Occasionally, you’ll see someone that’s been to multiple practitioners. So, for example, I have a psoriasis patient. He’s got psoriatic lesions over about 60% of his body. He’s had it for decades. He’s gone to every alternative and conventional practitioner, and has never got any results. So I gave him a normal protocol for 16 weeks of boiled herbs, which usually won’t resolve it. He didn’t get much resolution in his lesions, although he felt much better, he wasn’t sweating and hot all the time. So I’m treating him with a different sort of a technique now. But I would say that was the most difficult one.

31:52 S3: Nathan also asks, what method of diagnosis have you used the most when treating clients?

31:58 SB: Well diagnosis in Chinese medicine, we use the pulse and the tongue. By themselves, it’s insufficient, so the intake is very important. Someone gives you their medical history in the initial intake, and then you’re gonna devise a differential diagnosis based on a number of questions about body temperature, symptoms, sweating, urination, bowel movements, appetite, digestion, sleep, energy, mood. And with all these questions, you can actually weave a traditional differential diagnosis. Once you have an accurate diagnosis, that’s along with pulse and tongue, then you can come up with the treatment principle. With the treatment principle, there’s multiple herbal formulas and acupuncture treatments that you can use.

32:46 S3: Caitlin asks, for quality control, which brand would be the best to look at? I think she means for herbs.

32:52 SB: Brand? Is Caitlin a practitioner or a lay person?

32:58 S3: She doesn’t say. I can ask her.

33:00 SB: Okay. Well I’ll start answering in the meantime. If you’re buying just some Chinese herbs yourself, most of the large manufacturers won’t sell to non-practitioners. There’s a brand of the teapills called Plum Flower, and this is distributed by Mayway, and many health food stores have this brand. Plum Flower does testing of heavy metals, they’re good about quality. So those you can typically… If your health food store doesn’t have them, you can order them through your health food store, they tend to market that to lay people. There’s many, many brands though, that most of them only sell to practitioners though.

33:44 S3: Okay. Yeah, she didn’t get back to me…

33:47 SB: Now if you want to get some of the more common herbs like ginger, licorice, astragalus, Pacific Botanicals will sell them by the pound. They’re in Grants Pass, Oregon. You don’t have to be a practitioner to get those more common ones, and they are organic.

34:04 S3: Okay. She says she’s an exercise physiologist.

34:07 SB: So then probably I would recommend getting the teapills from the health food store, or some of the more common ones from Pacific Botanicals: Dong quai, astragalus, licorice, ginger, schisandra. Some of the more common ones, they do have.

34:26 S3: Debbie asks a followup question. I know coin rubbing is popular in Asian medicine as well, and to my knowledge, is used to dispel the wind. Is that similar to wind dampness?

34:37 SB: Does she mean gua sha with coin rubbing? Using a coin to rub on someone’s body? I’m not familiar with the term. It sounds like gua sha though.

34:44 S3: Okay.

34:46 SB: So let me answer the question, and then if she has more comments, she can tell you. What did she ask about it?

34:51 S3: I think she asked about it in relation to her earlier describing the wind dampness.

34:56 SB: Okay. I’m assuming coin rubbing is gua sha. You also see them use a Chinese spoon. There’s also gua sha tools, where they’ll scrape along the back. This is most typically used for fighting colds or for pain. But you have to be aware, it can cause some bruising, so it’s not for everyone. That could be used along with herbs. I wouldn’t use it instead of herbs for a cold because herbs are extremely effective.

35:26 S3: Alright. And then Chris also just commented. He’s gotten some Po Sum, and they’ve had…

35:39 SB: Po Sum On, okay.

35:40 S3: Yeah, they’ve had California warnings on ’em so he has to worry…

35:43 SB: Okay. California Prop 65 warnings, good question. Prop 65, with all good intentions, was formed in order to prevent carcinogenic substance from being consumed unintentionally, but it’s so overused now. You can’t even find a store that doesn’t have a Prop 65 warning on it, so people are ignoring them. What you’ll sometimes see on Chinese herbal products, a Prop 65 warning, “According to the State of California, this product may cause cancer.” Well that will certainly scare you. What will happen is that maybe years and years ago, they had one product that was a little bit high in heavy metals, high for herbs, lower than what’s allowed in food. There’s practically none allowed in herbs, very, very small amounts, so they may have been forced to put on a Prop 65 warning.

36:33 SB: You want to… If you’re buying herbs, you can request what’s called the C of A, a Certificate of Analysis. For example, Mayway, typically they’ll provide it to the company that they’re selling to, the health food store, but they’ll have a C of A for all their herbs, all their products. So you’ll see this warning, but then you see the C of A for the product, and it tests clear of heavy metals and pesticides. So C of A is the standard. And you wanna use a reliable supplier, who’s gonna have reliable C of A’s. So Po Sum On, maybe it has… Po Sum On’s topical, and a lot of it is synthetic. Maybe it’s menthol, I think menthol may be on the list. But it’s something that you wanna use a reliable supplier to avoid any possibility of actual toxicity.

37:25 S3: And Tina Tran asks, “One of your slide’s showing different parts of herbs. Will they always be used that way, such as twigs, branches for bi-syndrome, seeds for descending?”

37:41 SB: No, those are tendencies.

37:42 S3: Ah, okay.

37:44 SB: The plant parts, even the flavors, these are tendencies. So they can be used for many other things as well. When you look at the Materia Medica, each entry, there’ll be a category, for example, herbs that warm the interior. So each entry, for example, black paper, it might say, “Acrid and hot, goes to certain meridians.” It might just be specifically for pain in the stomach due to cold, or another one in the category may be due to vomiting due to cold. So each herb was a little bit different. Each plant part, each taste has a tendency, but they’re definitely not rules.

38:21 S3: Alright. Really quick, do we wanna do our polls? Alright, everyone, just really quick, we’re gonna continue these questions, please keep asking them, but we’re going to pull up our poll. If you wouldn’t mind answering these poll questions, that we’re going to have pulled up for you. It’ll just be really quick. Alright, here’s our first poll question, is this your first time attending one of our webinars? We would love to know. We just wanna know if you’re visiting us for the first time, or if you’re continuing to come and see us. Please just go ahead and give us your answer, and then we’ll continue on with our questions’ time.

39:11 SB: Do we need to do anything on the screen here?

39:13 S3: No, no… Alright. Thank you. That’s our first poll. And here comes our next poll. Alright. Just really quick question, did you know about our event on March 19th? Was it from me, or did you hear about it from someone else? Go ahead and answer that please. Thank you so much for joining us. Once again, we’ll get through these really quick, and then we’ll go back to the questions.

[background conversation]

40:11 SB: Are you waiting for the poll before I answer?

40:13 S3: Yeah, we’re waiting. I just wanted you to look at one, if you wanted. Alright, here’s poll number three. Do you plan on enrolling with us in our TCM degree program within six months? We just wanna know if we can see you soon. Hopefully you’ll come study with us. Alright, thank you so much for all your questions. Please just answer this quick poll. We really, really appreciate it. Alrighty.


40:55 S3: Alright. Thank you guys so much. One more quick poll. And if you answered yes to that last one, do you want us to follow up with you on enrollment support? This just helps us see if you want us to follow up with you, if you have any questions on enrolling. Thank you so much for all your answers. Alright. Thanks, everyone. Now we’re back to questions with Dr. Bill Schoenbart So Monica asks, I know they’re commonly used in tropical regions for medicine, but have you ever encountered much use of algae in TCM herbal practices?

41:40 SB: There’s something called Fu Ping, which is duckweed, that looks like algae, but it’s technically a plant, not an algae. It’s not a commonly used medicinal in Chinese medicine. And for those who are using algae, be careful because blue-green algae often will grow in the same place as toxic algae, so you’d wanna definitely use a reliable supplier for that.

42:04 S3: All right. And Chris asks, at what age can children be treated with herbs?

42:10 SB: I treat them as soon as they can be brought in. Obviously they’re not gonna drink a big cup of decoction, but I’ve had patients where the mother brings him in and I’ll just squirt some herbs in their mouth, and it works fine. You wanna be cautious, you’re gonna use very, very small doses. Some people that I wanna be extremely cautious, to give it to the mother who’s breastfeeding. But my other herbs, I’ve not seen a problem with kids of any age.

42:39 S3: Awesome. And Nathan asks, have you ever worked with a western doctor on a client’s case? And is that common when treating clients?

42:48 SB: Every practice is different. I know some practices work side by side with western physicians. One of my students is working in a cancer hospital in Atlanta now, and he’s completely integrated. Another one of my colleagues is at Kaiser, he’s the acupuncturist there. Obviously, the medical doctors are sending him patients. I’ll occasionally get a MD. A cardiologist sends me some of his patients ’cause he heard of me successfully treating a case of atrial fibrillation with acupuncture and herbs, so he’ll periodically send me someone. I have another MD that sometimes will send me people with viral illnesses. Most of my patients are by referral though from other patients, but it’s common in some practices.

43:40 S3: Awesome. Monica asks, have you done any work determining active compounds and how they work within the body to maintain or to obtain therapeutic results?

43:51 SB: Yeah, I have done that. I do consult for supplement companies, so I have to be aware of the science. The good thing about learning Chinese medicine is you don’t have to know that in order to be effective. But there are very good studies on that. For example, danshen, which is called red sage root, a very important herb in cardiology. So we know it can… And it also has strong anti-cancer properties. It’s got three compounds in it, salvianolic acid, tanshinone I, tanshinone II. And these compounds have numerous clinical studies, both in vitro and in vivo, for anti-cancer effects, multiple cancers. It doesn’t mean if you have cancer, you just take that herb and it goes away. But if you wanna prevent cancer, that’s a lot easier than treating it. You can use herbs to treat cancer, but typically what we do is they get their normal therapy, and then they use the herbs to treat the side effects of the chemo and radiation.

44:57 SB: You can also evaluate the quality of an herb with the constituents. If you’re looking at a ginseng extract, normally ginseng has about 1.5% ginsenosides. If it’s a five-to-one extract, there should be about 6% ginsenosides. If it tested about one, then you know you got poor quality ginseng. So for example, turmeric, most of the studies are in curcumin, which is the yellow compound in turmeric. So you can learn a lot about it, but you don’t have to know that about constituents to use the herb successfully.

45:32 S3: And Nathan also asks, is it necessary to be skilled in qigong to practice TCM Herbology?

45:38 SB: Not at all. No it’s… Qigong is a very powerful modality in and of itself. Many people that use qigong therapeutically use that and aren’t herbalist, especially in China. In America, you’ll see people doing acupuncture, qigong, herbs, multiple modalities, but it’s absolutely not necessary.

46:04 S3: Another question is, what are some side effects for adults taking herbs? Are the doses of herbs high enough to cause high blood sugar? E.g. From sweet goji berries, like…

46:17 SB: Ironically, goji berries are sweet but they lower blood sugar. So that’s actually a very nice feature of them. Most herbs are not sweet enough to raise blood sugar. Quite a few of them will lower blood sugar. Some of them will raise it, but only if it’s pathologically low. The most common herbal side effect is upset stomach, gas, some loose stools. And you either can remove an herb, you can add ginger, you can decrease the dose, but severe adverse effects are very, very rare with herbs.

46:52 S3: Jasmine asks, can ginseng be taken at night or does it keep people awake?

46:58 SB: Another interesting thing about herbs… These are great questions, by the way. I haven’t acknowledged you individually, but they’re all really good questions. For people who are really weak and chi-deficient, they can actually fall asleep easier when they take ginseng. People who are pretty robust, if they take ginseng at night, sometimes it’ll keep them awake. So what I’ll often do is when I give someone ginseng in a formula, I’ll have them take it morning and afternoon, and not take an evening dose. But if they’re very weak and chi- deficient, it’ll actually help them sleep. There’s a Emperor’s Teapills, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, which is a very common formula for insomnia with a heart yin deficiency pattern, and that’s got ginseng in it. Gui Pi Tang has ginseng in it. Excuse me, I’m talking about Gui Pi Tang. Gui Pi Tang contains ginseng, even though it’s calming. It can help someone sleep.

47:51 S3: All right. And then Nada asks, is Chinese language necessary to learn Chinese medicine?

47:58 SB: It’s very helpful. Yeah at the very minimum, you wanna learn how to pronounce the Pinyin, so you can communicate with other people, with practitioners, with herb suppliers. And if you’re really serious about practicing, learning the Chinese language is very useful ’cause you can study the classics, the Nei Jing, the Shang Han Lun, and get deep knowledge from it. But you can learn Chinese medicine without knowing the Chinese language. You’ll just have to get… Nowadays there’s very good translations of the basic texts. So if you don’t have the language ability, you’ll still be fine.

48:37 S3: Alright. That kinda breaches it on our questions. Does anyone have any more questions? Please just go ahead and ask them away. Both Jasmine and Nada thank you for your answer.

48:53 SB: Thank you for your questions.