This Course is Sold Out. 

You may still register to be added to the waitlist and/or to reserve space for the next time it is offered.  Dates for the next course TBA.

I have had the honor of studying Chinese medicine with numerous practitioners in both Taiwan and China and it occurs to me that the practical information I received from them should be passed on. While a structured lecture may be an efficient way to pass on this information it is my preference to mimic the apprenticeship experience as much as is possible in a virtual world.

In the apprenticeships in which I participated the learning had a loose structure that allowed for divergences where true learning took place. For example, as I worked in the herb shop at the home of one of my teachers a patient arrived with severe asthma. I watched as my teacher treated the case for several weeks, during which time he would talk to me about the diagnosis and treatment starting with Ma Xing Gan Shi Tang and transitioning to Xiao Qing Long Tang as the symptom picture changed (and attendant heat signs receded). The intricacies and vicissitudes of the case provided a setting for learning that no classroom lecture could replicate. Another aspect of spending time with my teachers was that there was ample opportunity to diverge into loosely related conversations and for them to tell me stories about their teachers, interesting cases, their opinion about how specific herbs should be used etc.

My thinking at the present time is to replicate that type of situation by teaching a class on the processing and preparation of Chinese herbs and using the discussions to pass on information that may have little or nothing to do with the lecture itself. This may then lead to questions from the students that lead us even further afield. We will have the outline of the class to retreat to and to serve as the structural skeleton of the class. For example, we may be talking about the process of vinegar treatment of herbs and the reasons one would do that and what situations call for that treatment. Since Ru Xiang and Mo Yao are often vinegar treated, that might lead to a discussion of when it is appropriate to use the treated Ru Xiang and Mo Yao and when it might be better to use the untreated items. That in turn might lead to the discussion of some external applications that employ those two herbs. We might go on to discuss the preparation and use of Fu Hai San (from the Ming text 疮疡经验全书Chuang Yang Jing Yan Quan Shu – Complete Book of Sores and Ulcers) which consists solely of Ru Xiang and Mo Yao.

This 3 month course includes:

  • 6 Live Classes
  • Ongoing discussions
  • Guided and Independent Research
  • Collaboration

Classes will be held on Thursdays from 2 – 4 pm EST on the following dates: 1/20, 2/3, 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31

Price: $600
This Course will be limited to 20 students.

The kinds of divergences we will visit include areas in which I have information to share. These include the following:

  • Processing and preparations of bulk herbs.
  • External application of Chinese herbs.
  • Herb quality determination including pesticide contamination and other issues such as fumigation with sulfur.
  • Herb identification and the history of what plants were used for various herbs through the centuries and how that impacts our practice in modern times.
  • Herb formulas: the history and transformation of usage through the ages including modern usage. We will introduce some formulas that are commonly used in Taiwan, China, and Japan but not emphasized in schools in the West.
  • Uncommon uses of commonly used herbs. For example, large doses of Bai Shao have been used by many well-known practitioners through the ages for treatment of inhibited urination or defecation.
  • Useful herbs you may not be familiar with such as Ba Yue Zha, Shu Yang Quan etc.. 
  • Case studies from my teachers, my own practice and from well-known doctors.
  • In-depth study of specific herbs tracing their uses over the last 2000 years and how those uses relate to modern practice.
  • Stories about herbs and about the practice of Chinese medicine in general. Most of these stories are didactic in nature.
  • Translational issues, with emphasis on how in-depth understanding of Chinese characters can lead to a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and the practice of Chinese medicine.

In most cases, discussions will have direct or indirect clinical relevance. Sometimes the stories are just interesting. For example, if I remember, I will tell the story of how I gained insight into why the word for faucet in Chinese is Shui Long Tou (Water Dragon Head).

The backbone of the class, the processing and preparation of Chinese herbs, will cover the following information:

  • Processing of Chinese herbs. Harvesting, washing slicing etc.
  • Preparation of Chinese herbs, dry frying, frying with an adjuvant both liquid (such as rice wine) and solid (such as clam shell powder), etc.
  • How to set up an herb shop.
  • What are concentrated granules how are they made and how should they be prescribed and dosed?
  • How to store Chinese herbs.
  • What is toxicity in Chinese medicine?
  • Which herbs should be crushed, wrapped etc…
  • How to make pills, powders, plasters, ointments etc.
  • How to cook Chinese herbs.

Andy Ellis first studied Chinese medicine with Dr. James Tin Yau So at the New England School of Acupuncture. He left New England in 1983 to study Chinese language in Taiwan where he apprenticed with Chinese herbalist Xu Fu-Su for several years. Later he studied internal medicine and gynecology at the Xiamen Hospital of Chinese Medicine. While there, he also specialized in the study of acupuncture with Dr. Shi Neng-Yun and dermatology with Dr. Zhang Guang-Cai. Andrew is the founding owner of Spring Wind Herbs in Berkeley, California and has authored, translated, or co-translated several books on Chinese medicine including Grasping the Wind, The Clinical Experience of Dr. Shi Neng-Yun, Notes from South Mountain, Fundamentals of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine: Formulas & Strategies, and Handbook of Formulas in Chinese Medicine.

Who Should Participate?

Practitioners or students who want to delve deeply into Chinese herbal medicine from a practical
perspective. When I say practical, I mean clinically useful. Previous knowledge of the following will be
very useful as this is not a class for beginners:

Knowledge of the Pin Yin names of the herbs and formulas. Basic knowledge of commonly used herbs and formulas.

Understanding of the principles of Chinese medicine such as Yin-Yang theory, Five-phase theory, Six-channel theory etc.

Lastly, apprenticeship is a serious endeavor and requires students who are willing to do research and direct and organize their learning. There are no CEU’s for this class and that is a conscious decision based on the supposition that in this class students are pursuing the highest goal: To relieve suffering of
patients and to join in the wonder of transmission and betterment of medical knowledge from one generation to the next.

Please note that this course is not being offered for CEUs / PDAs