Coming Spring 2020

A comprehensive yet efficient approach to effectively prescribing herbs

This course is designed for efficiency and applicability.  It is perfect for:

  • Recent graduates who are not confident in prescribing or are not clear on actual clinical usage
  • Acupuncturists who took herbs in school but never really practiced herbal medicine, are rusty and need a refresher
  • Herbalists who are not getting the clinical results that can and should be expected
  • Acupuncturists who did not study Chinese herbal medicine in school and want to offer herbal medicine to their patients in a safe and effective manner (solid diagnostics and pattern differentiation is a must and can be obtained in other TCM Hub courses)


Course description:

While acupuncture is the modality that has become most famous in the West, herbal medicine has been a major part of Chinese medicine almost since the beginning, and from early times to the present has often been the modality of choice for internal medicine, gynecology, externally contracted disease and seasonal pathogens, etc. Yet many people don’t learn herbs in school, or worse yet, graduate with herbs as part of their degree, but don’t feel truly confident using herbs, especially custom formulations, in clinic. Often, the reason for both is because the subject seems so overwhelming, the vast number of herbs and formulas and level of detail involved intimidating, and the decision process of choosing and modifying a formula, dosing it, etc too difficult and uncertain.

With this course, we aim to change all that by following the principle of “an inch wide but a mile deep”, focusing on a small core of herbs and formulas that nevertheless represent every commonly used treatment strategy in clinic, and giving practitioners the tools to prescribe a formula by following a systematic, step-by-step approach that builds off the fundamentals of Chinese medicine, and giving people the tools they need to expand and go deeper with herbal medicine on their own.

This course is geared towards licensed acupuncturists that did not study herbs in school, or who did, but don’t feel fully confident in prescribing herbal formulas for their patients, or who would like to explore a different, integrated, efficient and streamlined approach to understanding and prescribing Chinese herbal medicines.

What makes this course different:

  • Instead of the standard model of learning the Materia Medica and then formulas, this program teaches both at the same time in an integrated fashion. Herbs will be taught in the context of formulas that they appear in, including commonly used dui yao pairings with other herbs.
  • Treatment principle as the key to selecting formulas is prioritized as well as the 8 principles and 8 methods as a rubric to simplify the decision making process.
  • Provides a solid foundation with clinical relevance and no filler.  This course is aimed to get the practitioner practicing herbal medicine safely and effectively as quickly as possible.

In addition to a small representative set of core herbs and formulas and how to use them, we will go over a simple approach to understanding dosing of raw, vacuum packed, and granule  formulas, pao zhi (use of processed herbs), dui yao (herbal pairs), the difference between classical and modern formula schools, and more. Students will leave this course feeling much more confident and efficient in prescribing individualized formulas for patients in clinic, building off their already-existing knowledge of Chinese medicine in general, and leveraging that to explore the unique features, and approaches specific to herbal medicine in particular.

Course Sections:

  1. Introductory Herbology for the Experienced Acupuncturist: How to use existing knowledge of acupuncture and Chinese medicine theory to learn herbs as an L.Ac. as opposed to a student. What makes this course different. An inch wide but a mile deep. Fewer, better tools, more deeply understood and more skillfully employed. Learning how to learn, and the power of “by way of example”. Teaching people to fish. How much do you actually need? Trade offs. Differentiating between diagnosis and treatment principle. 8 principles of diagnosis and 8 principles of treatment. Strategic herbalism and tactical herbalism.
  2. Introduction to basic concepts of formulas and how they work: dui yao pairs, roles (sovereign, minister, assistant, envoy), different means of administration (decoction, granule, etc), special preparation (crush, cook first, add at end, etc), dosage (raw/vacuum, granule, and pediatric), modification by addition, subtraction, pao zhi, and dosage. Different styles of formulation, jingfang pai vs. shifang pai vs. diverse repetoire, pros and cons of all three, and how to learn. Clinical relevance of source text.
  3. Introduction to basic concepts of the materia medica: Chapter and category, action, indication, temperature/taste/channel, contraindication, dosage range, pao zhi, cautions and contraindications. How to summarize, prioritize, memorize, learn in context, and apply.
  4. Brief review of basic theory concepts and systems of diagnosis as relevant for herbs: yinyang, 5 phases, qi/blood, zangfu, disease evil, (channel collateral), shanghan, and wenbing.
  5. Eight principles: moving past the binary: 8 principles as multiple choice questions, differentiating complex, combination, and conversion, evaluating fluids through the 8 principles, combinations of the 8 principles. Yinyang evaluated through the 4 relationships. Introducing the idea of representative formulas and herbs for every permutation.
  6. Principles and Methods of Treatment: Review of the 8 fundamental methods of treatment and their subdivisions. Introducing the idea of representative formulas and herbs for each one.
  7. Strategies, formulas, and their constituent herbs:
  8. Releasing the exterior
  9. Draining downward
  10. Harmonizing
  11. Clearing Heat
  12. Dispelling Summerheat
  13. Warming the interior and expelling cold
  14. Releasing Exterior-Interior Excess
  15. Tonification (supplementation)
  16. Stabilizing and binding
  17. Calming the Spirit
  18. Opening the Orifices
  19. Regulating Qi
  20. Regulating Blood
  21. Expelling Wind
  22. Treating Dryness
  23. Expelling Dampness
  24. Dispelling Phlegm
  25. Reducing Food Stagnation
  26. Expelling Parasites
  27. Abscesses and Sores
  28. External Application


This program has an expected release of March or April 2021.  We will apply for NCCAOM PDAs.  More details to come.

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