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Chinese Tonic Herbs

by Ron Teeguarden, published by Japan Pubns (1985-04)

Buy now from Amazon.com for $19.00
Amazon rating of 5.0 out of 5, Amazon sales rank: 227646

Editor's Review:

Not Available

Reader Reviews:

What sets this book apart from other books on Chinese herbal medicine is its philosophy of using "superior tonic herbs" to improve the quality of one's life and health. This book is not about treating disease, but rather about achieving radiant health from a Taoist perspective.

This is Ron Teeguarden's first of several books on the subject of Chinese Medicine and in my opinion is a classic. (Note, I have not read his latest book The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs.)

Having formally studied Traditional Chinese Medicine for two years and Ayurvedic medicine for two years I can unequivocally state this is the book to start learning practical do it yourself Chinese herbalism for increased energy, creativity, spiritual growth and happiness. It contains many useful and effective herbal formulas that would not be otherwise accessible to the non-professional. If you want to learn Chinese medicine for the treatment of disease this is not the book to get, rather the focus is on tonic herbs and their correct application. (While tonic herbs are widely used for deficiency diseases in Chinese Medicine, not enough herbs, formulas and theory are given in this book for treating complex deficiency conditions/diseases.) This book shows one how to gradually work towards radiant health through the application of Superior Tonic Herbalism. All the practical and theoretical knowledge needed is covered.

The cost of the herbs involved ranges from $.50 / ounce to $200 / ounce (retail). To seriously put to use the knowledge contained in this book would require having a selection of about 20-35 herbs. Though one could start out with as few as one to three herbs. The primary emphasis is on learning how to mix and cook the bulk tonic herbs into teas (decoctions). These teas range in taste from sweet, sour, and pungent to bitter. (There is one chapter devoted to the use of commercially prepared tonics, but it is not the major focus of the book.) The companies listed to order herbs from are now out of date, but a search of the Internet will reveal more current sources.

Traditionally the tonic herbs are divided into four categories: 1) chi (qi) tonics, 2) yang tonics, 3) yin tonics and 4) blood tonics. Ron Teeguardian covers three additional categories: 1) chi moving/regulating herbs, 2) blood moving/regulating herbs and 3) organ-meridian tonics. The book covers 35 herbs in detail, including buying tips and a black and white photo of each herb.

The section on ginseng (a chi tonic) is very informative and contains insights and perspectives not readily found elsewhere. Also covered in detail is dang shen (Codonopsis pilosula) a safe and low cost ginseng substitute. The coverage of some the "minor" tonic herbs is unique as the longevity properties of these "minor" tonic herbs are usually overlooked or ignored by most texts on the subject.

The theory section is kept simple, but detailed enough to be practically useful. While Chinese Tonic Herbs discusses modern scientific research on Chinese herbs, the formulas and theory is geared toward building up the three Taoist treasures: shen (spirit), jing (essence, refined reproductive energy) and chi (life-force/energy). When these three treasures are built up a person will have a strong reserve of adaptogenic energy to effectively deal with stress and changing life conditions.

The book has a few flaws. The taxonomy is a little weak as some of the scientific names used are outdated. Perhaps not enough information is given on how to correctly distinguish between yin, yang, chi and blood deficiency conditions. Also, not enough contraindications are given for each of the herbs discussed. While superior tonic herbs are generally very safe and non toxic, it is possible to use them incorrectly and put one's body into a deeper state of imbalance. Dosage information is somewhat weak, but sufficiently covered if one studies the book carefully. Usually only relative proportions for each herb are given for a formula.

Ron Teeguarden was personally trained by a Taoist master visiting from North Korea (in the 1970's when it was still possible to travel from North Korea to America). This book is part of a real living tradition of Superior Tonic Herbalism.

While several volumes would be needed to do Superior Tonic Herbalism justice this book is an excellent beginning.

(A useful adjunct book is "Yoga of Herbs" by Frawley and Lad, which covers Western, Ayurvedic and some Chinese herbs from an Ayurvedic perspective. Yoga of Herbs focuses both on the treatment of disease and tonification and rejuvenation. It covers some of the spiritual aspects of herbs according to the Ayurvedic perspective. Both Yoga of Herbs and Chinese Tonic Herbs embrace the life energy model of herbalism as opposed to the more modern pharmacological model.)

The real secret of tonic herbalism is doing it carefully (e.g., don't over do it) and steadily every day -- this book will definitely help one get started on this path, by both the knowledge contained within, and the truly inspiring stories and passion of the author. Superior Tonic Herbalism is Ron Teeguardian's passion and mission in life and this book follows from this.I have several good books on Chinese herbs, but Teeguarden's book is the only one with full, complete explanations. He includes:

1. Section on the five elements (water-wood-fire-metal-earth), what "cool" and "warm" and "yin" and "yang" mean.

2. Section describing the most-used and important herbs like Ginseng and Dong Kwai, Ma Huang and many others. This section includes photos of the herb shown as they are sold in herb shops, tips on getting the best herbs, the Chinese name (and Korean, sometimes) The names are both Romanized and in Chinese characters, with the Latin name, and the active chemical components and their effects.

3. Formulae for herb tonics, because Chinese herbs are not used alone but in combination (and the reasoning behind the combination.)

4. Philosophy of Chinese medicine for health (prevention versus cure) and much more.

The book is very readable, too. While I very much like other books I own, this one is such a classic, I consider it a MUST-HAVE if you are interested at all in Chinese medicine and definitely the first one you should own.I found Ron Teeguarden's new book "Radiant Health" to be the most easily understood and comprehensive book on the subject that I've ever read. Many Westerners, during the last several decades, have become aware of the benefits of Chinese Medicine, specifically acupuncture. This book brings to light the extremely effective system of Chinese Herbal Tonics, which is an ancient tradition of promoting and maintaining a state of radiant health rather than treating disease once it has developed. Considering the cost of health care to both individuals and society at large, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in maintaining their own personal health or providing for the health of society. Not only does Ron Teeguarden explain in detail the properties and uses of each of the tonic herbs but he has a rare talent of making very complex and profound concepts easily understandable to the layman. One suggestion that I would make is not to miss the last chapter called "Six Lessons The Tonic Herbs Have Taught Me." Some readers might get bogged down in the middle of the book where each of the herbs is described. If that happens to you, just skip to the last chapter and then pick up the book, from time to time, to read about an herb or two. The last chapter was my favorite because it beautifully expresses the degree to which the tonic herbs can transform life and raise it to a pinacle that is the birthright of every human being.Ron has certainly opened the eyes of those of us who wish to avoid the chemicals of modern day medicine. This book will guide you to the Chinese herb that is right for you and your health. While he makes no claims of cures, I can attest to the renewed energy and vitality I have attained from his advice and knowledge
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The Herbal Drugstore: The Best Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines!

Radiant Health The Ancient Wisdom of the Chinese Tonic Herbs

The Herbal Drugstore: The Best Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines!

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