alstone at beyondwellbeing.com
Wed Mar 13 15:16:24 EST 2002
Fernando Bernall wrote:
> I'm wondering what is the criteria by which one would choose an herb
> when the original in the formula is out of stock? For example:
> I was preparing Xiao Yao San, and was out of Fu Ling and Bai Shao. I
> felt that the closest match for Fu Ling was Yi Yi Ren. Zhu ling does not
> tonify while Yi Yi Ren does albeit not as well as Fu Ling. But I had
> difficulty getting a good match for Bai Shao and felt that the
> properties of this herb were essential to the formula's calming liver
I'm not honestly so developed as an herbalist that my experience really
stands as a beacon or anything, but here's the way that I do this.
Firstly, I check to see exactly what function the herb has in the
formula. For instance, in Xiao Yao San, Fu Ling's function is to
strengthen the spleen and thus its transforming and transporting
functions. That's according to Bensky. I think that the Fu Ling in
Xiao Yao San may also have to do with its Shen calming functions, but if
we simply want to strengthen the Spleen probably Dan Shen or more Bai
Zhu may be the way to go.
If there is edema, then Fu Ling could be replaced with your Yi Yi Ren or
some other damp draining, qi tonifying medicinal.
My own sense would be to replace the Fu Ling with Fu Shen as it has the
same properties, only the Shen calming action is greater and the
diuresys and tonification actions are weaker. Seems like Shen calming
is a good thing for Xiao Yao San.
> Another time, I was out of Bai Zhu and wanted to find an herb that would
> both augment the spleen and dry dampness. I settled for a combination of
> Dang Shen and Cang Zhu.
You know, according to one guy whom I respect very much, Bai Zhu doesn't
dry damp, but it tonifies Spleen. When the Spleen is stronger, the damp
is dried. Cang Zhu doesn't tonify the Spleen, but it dries damp and
that allows the Spleen to get stronger on its own.
If I were out of Bai Zhu and I wanted to dry damp, I'd use the Cang Zhu.
if I wanted to tonify the Spleen, Dang Shen sounds good. I think your
reasoning is good, but its necessary to know exactly what you want the
herb to do, rather than trying to mimik all of its functions in another
herb or herbs.
> How do you guys do this? Do you go by Channel tropism or flavor,
> temperature, etc?
> Is there a book on the subject. Mind you, I'm not referring to
> substitution such as you find on Bensky's book. I'm talking about using
> a different herb when you're out of your first choice herb.
I kind of doubt it, but that book that I mentioned yesterday does an
excellent job of taking all the herbs in a given category and rates them
on the strength of one given action.
For instance, herbs that aromtically dry dampness in the middle jiao,
from strongest to weakest are as follows:
Huo Xiang, Pei Lan, Sha Ren, Bai Dou Kou, Shi Chang Pu, Zi Su Ye.
On the graph from which I took this the temperatures and relative
strength are also indicated. Its really good for deciding which herbs to
replace in a formula when you're out of one.
Once again, the book is: Oh, the heck with it, here's the URL at Amazon:
If that URL doesn't take you to the book due to line breaks in your
email, just plus "Yifan Yang" into Amazon's search engine and it will
Al Stone L.Ac.
<AlStone at BeyondWellBeing.com>
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
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