Between Heaven and Earth; A Guide to Chinese Medicine
By Harriet Beinfield, Efrem Korn
Different people have different patterns of conflict that reflect their constitutional dynamics. Key problems often arise between the Five Phases along the fee sequence-this refers to distorted interactions occurring between the Lung-Liver, Liver-Spleen, Spleen-Kidney, Kidney-Heart, and Heart-Lung. Since we define problems within the context of these relationships, we designed constitutional remedies called "harmonizing formulas" to reconcile these primary conflicts.
In the healthy individual, the role and function of the Organ Networks are complementary-that is, they balance each other and maintain the necessary tension that keeps us active and alive. However, if tension develops into friction, what was complementary becomes antagonistic. Heart (Fire) and Kidney (Water) should complement each other so that warmth (Yang) and moisture (Yin) are evenly distributed throughout the body. If friction or conflict ensues, warmth will turn to Heat in the upper regions, leading to Dryness and thirst, and Moisture will accumulate below, leading to Dampness or Cold in the lower regions. Reorganizing these patterns of conflict is the purpose of the harmonizing formulas, the usefulness of which is clearer after having read the typology section of this book, which elaborates upon the psychological and physiological manifestations of Organ Network disharmonies.
Metal-Wood. Lung Liver
To harmonize Lung-Liver is to reconcile Metal and Wood. This is accomplished by tonifying Blood and Moisture, dispersing Blood and Qi, and purging Heat and Wind. This formula contains bupleurum, white peony, and cyperus, which keep the Liver cool, relaxed, and decongested. These same herbs relieve spasm of blood vessels, nerves, and muscles, especially in the diaphragm, and fullness or pain of the liver and gallbladder. Chrysanthemum and Morus resolve inflammation and congestion of the upper-respiratory tract and eyes; and platycodon, fritillary, and licorice soothe and moisturize the Lungs and eliminate phlegm.
This formula harmonizes Liver-Spleen and makes peace between Wood and Earth. The herbs used here regulate digestion, blood circulation, and the distribution of Nutritive Essence, the source of Qi and Blood. The herbs bupleurum, peony, and angelica relax Liver Qi and nurture and distribute Blood. Ripe citrus and saussurea warm and activate the Spleen and Stomach, promote digestion, and relieve accumulated Moisture. Peppermint and licorice dispel Wind and Heat and counteract spasm and tension. This formula adjusts and subdues the appetite and corrects indigestion associated with gas, acidity, and queasiness. It also relieves constipation due to tension in the abdomen and allays the irritability, bloating, and lethargy of premenstrual distress.
The formula to harmonize Spleen-Kidney stabilizes Earth and Water. By redistributing Moisture and promoting circulation of Qi and Blood, the herbs in this formula help to overcome stiffness, swelling, and inertia. Poria, atractylodes, and ripe citrus rid the Spleen of Dampness and circulate Qi, while alisma and cinnamon remove surplus fluids (Moisture and Blood) from cavities, joints, and tissue. Astragalus and curyales support the Qi of both Spleen and Kidney and protect them from being overly drained. This formula relieves dryness of skin and mouth, soreness of the joints, puffiness of the face, hands, and feet, the feeling of heaviness in the head and limbs, diarrhea, and difficult urination.
To harmonize Kidney-Heart a formula must reunite Essence (Jing) and Spirit (Shen), Wafer and Fire. Cooked rehmannia and schizandra nurture and consolidate Essence, Blood, and Moisture, while salvia and polygala soothe the Spirit and vitalize the Blood. As assisting herbs anemarrhena protects Yin by supplementing Moisture and clearing Heat, while motherwort and cardamom respectively encourage the downward flow of Blood and stabilize and warm the Qi. This rectifies the lack of concordance between Heart and Kidney that results in problems like insomnia, sexual and emotional anxiety, excessive perspiration and nervousness, lumbar weakness, fatigue, and intense mood swings.
The Heart-Lung harmonizing formula soothes and cools the friction that antagonizes Fire and Metal, calming the mind and freeing the breath. Lily bulb, trichosanthes fruit, and licorice lubricate and moisturize the Lungs, skin, eyes, nose, throat, and intestines. Ganoderma, polygala, and schizandra quiet the psyche, settle the nerves, nurture the Blood, stabilize the Qi, and regulate perspiration. To give support, ripe citrus, platycodon, and pinellia mobilize and disperse Qi and phlegm from the chest and throat, reducing congestion, constriction, and pain. This formula eases mental stress, adjusts body temperature by adjusting perspiration and respiration, stops coughing, aids expectoration, and quenches thirst. It also relieves dryness and inflammation of the skin, throat, bronchi, and intestines.