Clinical Handbook of Chinese Herbs: Essential Desk Reference


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By Will Maclean
Trade paperback book
ISBN 9780957972025
155 pages, 5.50 x 8.50″

Proficiency in the prescription of Chinese herbs depends not only on good diagnosis but on an intimate knowledge of the raw materials. This in turn depends on being able to discriminate the fine points of difference between the similar herbs within a group, and a deep understanding of the unique characteristics of each herb. This volume of comparative charts is designed to aid the student or the busy practitioner in selecting the optimal medicinals for their patients. Each table describes the characteristics of a group of herbs, including extensive indications with relative strengths of action and function, the domain, flavor, nature, and dosage guidelines. The tables and text in this book will facilitate efficient comparative study for the student, as wll as make clear the fine points of discrimination for the experienced practitioner. Easy to use, with clear and accurate tables comparing all the main herbs used in a modern clinic, this tome is a practical assistant to the complex world of Chinese herbal prescription.


  • Quick comparative access to indications, functions, flavors and nature across groups of herbs
  • Practical information about processing, dosage variations, delivery format and concise cautions and contraindications
  • Tables of herbs contraindicated during pregnancy, herbs with potential toxicity, endangered species with possible substitutes, and herbs requiring special treatment.
  • Extensive index and glossary of terms

Praise for Clinical Handbook of Chinese Herbs- Essential Desk Reference

“There have now been many books released on Chinese herbal medicine over the past 20 years, with the Bensky, Clavey and Stoger Materica Medica being the benchmarks. Though the Bensky Materia Medica is essential for any student and practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine, it is not exactly user friendly because of its sheer size.This is where Will Maclean’s desk reference comes to felicity. It will easily fit into the students lap top or Gucci bag. And the book is affordable to the average student. It gets ten out of ten for the most user friendly herb index of any Chinese herbal medicine text book I have come across. What a great idea to have the herbs listed in alphabetical order with pin yin and the pharmaceutical name all in one index. I know when I research and study, some journal articles and books only have the pharmaceutical name and others only the pin yin. When using Bensky’s book, it always takes me 5 minutes to just get to the right index, but with Will’s book, oh what a breeze. The symptom index is also a bonus, as it includes common names of symptoms, medical terms and even some TCM terms such as xiao ke (diabetes). There is more than one appendix in this desk reference, including all the basic formulas and their ingredients. Not to mention, the formula names include pin yin, translated name and Chinese characters. Another appendix I find quite useful (and now easily accessible because I own a copy) is the list of herbal medicines requiring special treatment, such as cook first, add later and so forth. I had always wanted to compile a list of these for myself and had procrastinated for 20 years or so, but now Will has done it for me, which is great. There is ample information on each individual herb so you can write any prescription you need and readily identify the major contraindications and common formulas that contain a particular herb. Then you can flick across the formula index and review if required. From a study perspective, each chapter includes a simple one-page table summary with the main medicines, indications and functions of each, so you can look at the symptoms you are trying to address in any prospective prescription. In the final analysis, it is an excellent book and a great companion to use with Bensky’s Materia Medica. It is perfect for the student and practitioner alike. Finally, although I can’t remember the Nei Jing quote exactly , where it expounds, “when he reaches the age of 56, his Liver becomes dry and he can no longer see clearly,” Will has taken this into account and the print size used in the book is still readable to us veterans. He has crammed everything possible into this small desk reference to give you value for your buck.”

-HEIKO LADE, New Zealand

Additional information

Weight .90 lbs
Dimensions 10 × 8 × 2 in


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