Formula Constitutions

2016-06-03_bookI'm currently taking the herbal course "Classics of Chinese Medicine" with Dr. Xie. At first, I wasn't sure what the "Classics" referred to since most of the Chinese formulas that we learn as students are based on the classics.

The herbal classics embody the essence of Chinese medicine and the wisdom and knowledge of the classical medical conceptions of the human body. As it happens, this course looks at classical Chinese herbal formulas from the perspective of Dr. Huang Huang and is based off his work, "Ten Key Formula Families in Chinese Medicine."

Dr. Huang, a TCM practitioner and professor at the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China, approaches classic Chinese herbal formulas as formula "families." This categorizes them by their chief herbal ingredient and formula presentations. These presentations are also described as "formula constitutions" that represent certain signs and symptoms in a patient. For example, a patient may display a Gui Zhi Tang, or 'Cinnamon Decoction' constitution. This would indicate that they tend towards having the signs and symptoms related to a formula family, which could therefore make them more vulnerable to certain pathologies. But their constitution would also make them well suited for treatment with a Gui Zhi Tang family/constitution formula. This is similar to our body's affinity for certain foods.


This may sound confusing to those not familiar with Chinese herbal formulas, but for herbal students it's pretty revolutionary. Not only does it simplify the way we learn formulas, but it also gives us a new way of diagnosing and treating our patients.


On the extracurricular side of student life, I wanted to include some photos of the absolutely gorgeous Memorial Day holiday weekend weather.... The warmth, sun and cool breezes could not have been more perfect for planting veggie and flower seeds in the community garden, lounging (and studying) lakeside, and watching Cubs games -- an ideal balance for my constitution!