The Yin and Yang of Herbs Article
Published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine June 2016
The previous two articles in this series (‘The First Materia Medica: Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing’ and ‘Returning Our Focus to the Flavour and Nature of Herbs’, issues 104 and 105 respectively) focused on classical herbal perspectives. This article discusses the yin and yang of herbs in order to better understand the clinical applicaton of the concepts of flavour (味, wei), nature (氣, qi - often translated as temperature), thinness (薄, bo), thickness (厚, hou), lightness (輕, qing) and heaviness (重, zhong). Although essential for clinical effectiveness, the modern transmission of Chinese herbal medicine has neglected this understanding of herbal medicine.
JulieAnn Nugent-Head lived in China for eight and a half years studying with the last generation of traditional practitioners who were born and educated prior to 1949. Seeing these older doctors effectively treat acute and chronic conditions in their clinics and studying the classic texts with them in their homes revolutionized her understanding of Chinese medicine. Their clinical skills and perspective were a drastic contrast to her previous training in the West.
This experience encouraged JulieAnn to continue post graduate studies in the Chinese university system, focusing her doctoral thesis on the classical application of herbs. JulieAnn feels that herbs are wonderfully practical and incredibly effective, and hopes to encourage more of the TCM community to use herbs as a principle component of treatment. JulieAnn and husband Andrew moved back to the United States in 2014, and opened a teaching clinic in Asheville, NC. They teach internationally, and are vocal advocates of classically-based, clinically-focused, tangible and effective Chinese medicine.