Herbal Formulas

Common words

Tang/汤 — Decoction, eg, Ma huang tang
Yin / 饮 — Decoction, eg, Sang ju yin
San /散 –Powder,  eg, Yin qiao san
Wen /丸 — Pills,   eg, Bao he wan

(Used in the last place in a name)

List of Formulas with *Marks

FAQ in Formula Study

  1. Which textbook is the best for my formula study?
  2. Should I take note in the class?
  3. Should I bring a Materia Mdica textbook with me while I am taking formula class?
  4. Why do many formulas have different ingredients? How do I memorize this kind of formula?
  5. I want spend more time on important formulas. Which formulas are most important?
  6. Do I need to know a formula is from which ancient textbook?
  7. How do get a good grade in final?
  8. How many formulas do I need memorize?
  9. I cannot memorize any formula. What should I do?
  10. Chinese herbs are safe, it’s not a big problem if they are used wrongly. Is it right?
  11. What is the best way to avoid toxic or side effect of using a herbal formula?
  12. Why a formula is explained differently in terms of jun/king, chen/minister, zuo/adjacent, shi/guide?

 

  1. Which textbook is the best for my formula study?

A: So far, no textbook is the best. The best textbook used by myself is the standard textbook used in all TCM colleges/universities in China. Unfortunately you can read it. I encourage you read different textbooks, translated by both English speaker and Chinglish speaker, the more the better. It’s wise to buy two textbooks, a pocket one which is good for memory,  a thick one which is good for understanding.

The textbook currently required in my class is a book which is not thick and not thin. All those floating charts in it are very cool. It simplifies everything and has summarized everything you need to focus on. Because you have already had all these amazing charts in your hand, you can wisely avoid taking notes in my class and focus on understanding what I am talking about. I eagerly encourage you take this advantage from this required textbook.

  1. Should I take note in the class?

A: It depends on which textbook you are going to use and your study habit. I discourage you take note in my class if you are going to use the required textbook, but, occasionally , I’ll ask you take notes if something  goes wrong in the textbook or something is important but is not emphasize by the book.

  1. Should I bring a Materia Mdica textbook with me while I am taking formula class?

A: Yes, please. Knowledge of individual herbs is the pre-requirement for your formula study. You will frequently go back to consult your herbal textbook. No one is capable enough to memorize all those herbs, especially when one has not used them for a long time. Furthermore, the best time to go over the herbs is, now, when you are studying the formulas.

  1. Why do many formulas have different ingredients? How do I memorize this kind of formula?

A: It seems that some formulas have a few more herbs in one book than another. You can count those extra herbs as ingredients in a formula, but you don’t have to. To make it simple, I suggest you just study and memorize the one which is short of a few herbs. The extra herbs are actually not an original part in a formula. They were considered something extra by formula inventors in ancient time, and were used as something like flavor for flavoring water used to decoct a formula.

  1. I want spend more time on important formulas. Which formulas are most important?

A: I’ll let you know what formulas are important in classroom, but you can also figure out by yourself that most important formulas are from TCM classic books, especially from Shan Han Lun (Cold Damage or Treatise of Febrile Diseases) and Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet).

  1. Do I need to know a formula is from which ancient textbook?

A: No, but you will find most of the most important formulas are from ancient textbooks, eg, Shan Han Lun (Cold Damage or Treatise of Febrile Diseases) and Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet).

  1. How do get a good grade in final?

A: It depends on several things. First, attendance. Although you have the right to be absent from the class for amount of time and still can pass this course,  the chance for you to get a good grade is pretty low especially when your absence has reached the maximum. Usually I take 1% off from your final grade for each of your absence (3 hours). It is a fact that the lower your attendance is, the poor your study will be.  Secondly, understanding. Memorizing something is definitely important, but understanding is even more important. Even you forgot a composition of a formula,  you will still be capable to work out a similar formula through your deep understanding of TCM theory.  Thirdly, memorizing. I don’t encourage you memorize a big formula, instead, I do encourage memorize simple formulas as more as possible. Big and complicated formulas are usually combinations of simple ones.

  1. How many formulas do I need memorize?

A: The more the better. Sixty to one hundred should be good enough for your future practice if you know herbs very well.

  1. I cannot memorize any formula. What should I do?

A: You can, trust yourself. You just need budget more time to it and get chances to practice. If you tried your best and still cannot memorize a single formula, please quit your formula study.

  1. I heard people say that Chinese herbs are safe, it’s not a big problem even they are used wrongly. Is it right?

A: It’s absolutely wrong. Herbs can do more harm than benefit to your patient if used in a wrong way. There were reports that people died because of wrong usage of herbs.

  1. What is the best way to avoid toxic or side effect of using a herbal formula?

A: Firstly, make right diagnosis (of syndrome pattern). Secondly, choose right herbs or formula. Thirdly, used your herbs or formula in a right way.

  1. Why a formula is explained differently in terms of jun/king, chen/minister, zuo/adjacent, shi/guide?

A: This is usually found in some big formulas with a history less than 1000 years. It is scholars in later time, not the ancient doctor who invented the formula, who gave notes to a formula in term of jun, chen, zuo, shi. Different scholars could have different understanding of a formula and gave different explanation. This is totally acceptable, because it does not affect your application of these kinds of formulas. Good thing is that you will not encounter such problem in almost all most important formulas from ancient classic literature dating back 2000 years.