The Energetics of the Five Flavors and Canonical Formulas

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Chinese herb actions are by no means arbitrary. The actions are rooted in the tastes and nature of the herbs as described in the materia medica classics and as proofed by centuries of clinical application. When herb classics like the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica recorded these basic qualities; and theoretical classics like the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Canon instructed on their therapeutic indication and application, they came to clinical maturation in medical manuals like the Treatise on Cold Damage. From the architecture of the classical herbal formulas documented in the latter, we can observe how it is consistent with its theoretical predecessors.

The contemporary application of Chinese medicinals though, nowadays relies almost exclusively on the allopathic action an herb possesses. These actions may be superficially explained by the herb’s flavor and nature, but in many scenarios, even the best contemporary herbalist cannot explain ‘why’ many an herb does what it does or why a certain herb is applied in the stead of another. Only when one takes the understanding of the subject back to the original energetics, can one gain insight into the infinite knowledge of materia medica and increase clinical effectiveness.

This course is intended to explore the profound mechanisms behind the workings of the most commonly used herbs. First there will be an in-depth explanation of the physiology of the flavors, followed by an explanation of their many pathological aspects. In the second part of the lecture, an detailed description will be given of the most common herbs’ mechanism of action through an elaborate five phase model.

This course will allow both the beginning as well as the advanced herbalist to gain a deeper understanding of how the herbs work and through what pathway of action they achieve their therapeutic results. This knowledge will then directly contribute to a more detailed prescription behavior, better understanding of formulas and overall enhanced clinical effectiveness.