By Volker Scheid & Andrew Ellis
Handbook of Formulas in Chinese Medicine is a concise, visual reference to over 180 of the most important herbal formulas in Chinese medicine. The book is designed to provide a snapshot of the formulas and help the reader take in key information at a glance.
Each formula is presented as a two-page spread. On the left is a drawing of a person showing an aspect that is typical of the type of patient for whom the formula might be prescribed. The drawing is labelled with key symptoms. Under the drawing is a list of ingredients followed by basic information: actions, main pattern, key and secondary symptoms, tongue, pulse and abdomen. This can be absorbed in just a few moments.
Additional detail is set forth in clinical notes, and other formulas with similar indications are discussed for purposes of comparison.
On the right page is a full display of the composition of the formula. Each of the ingredients is color coded to show its taste and temperature, and the overall nature of the formula—warming, cooling, neutral etc.—can be seen at a glance. The role that each ingredient plays in the formula (chief, deputy, assistant, envoy) as well as its actions are also shown.
An introduction discusses how different types of processing affect the functions of particular herbs, and there is a helpful introduction to the Japanese approach to abdominal diagnosis and its value in prescribing herbs. A formula index (by pinyin and English common name) and an index of patterns and key symptoms are included.