As you may know I published a book about a year ago on the use of “Western herbs” in the paradigm of Chinese medicine Western Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Practitioners Guide. The purpose of this book was to organize my own thoughts and hopefully help people to be able to integrate plants from outside the standard Chinese materia medica into their daily practice.
When considering a plant to integrate there are a few important points I think should be addressed. In no particular order they are:
1. does the plant hold a unique property that in unavailable to me with the standard medicinals
2. does the plant preform in a duiyao combination that is unique
3. can the plant be either ecologically harvested or grown using bio-dynamic means
4. does the plant come from a reasonably close proximity to me, lessening the amount of resources needed to transport the product to me
5. do I have access to appropriate professional level information about preparing and using the plant clinically
6. are their related plants used in the Chinese materia medica that might help me understand how to use the plant within the Chinese medical paradigm
As an example let’s look briefly at echinacea. I would say that it definitely hold unique properties that are otherwise unavailable in the Chinese materia medica. I would also say that its uniqueness give it special duiyao combinations. It can be easily grown using bio-dynamic methods, which allow it to be grown almost anywhere in temperate climates. There certianly plenty of professional level information on it use. To the best of my knowledge, there are no plants like it used in the Chinese materia medica, which means that there is little in the way of a spring board of information to work from when understanding how we can use this medicinal in Chinese medicine.