I recently had a client ask me how many herbal formulas are in my personal cupboard.
“A lot.” Considering that I’ve been using herbs since I was my late teens it makes sense that I have quite a stock, even with my natural tendency to clean out the cupboards. I also favor using whole foods and herbs whenever possible to shift my system before reaching for a product.
“Okay, so if you could only have 10 formulas in your cupboard what would they be?”
Ah, a challenge…this will be fun.
How shall I approach this challenge? There are a few absolutes. I need something for colds, something for digestion, pain…etc. and then a few spaces for personalized formulas. Here’s my list. This is the basic list that I have in my first aid kit in the car and travel with and of course, these are the basic formulas in Clara’s dorm room.
Gan Mao Ling – Common cold. Use at first signs. Clears heat, dispels wind, relieves cough, opens the sinuses. It’s wicked effective.
Pill Curing – Digestion. Moves food stasis, nausea, gas, bloating, vomiting. Any digestive complaint, great when traveling and nearly every Asian market will have it or something similar. I never leave home without it.
Suan Zao Ren – Anxiety and nerves. A lovely Heart/mind formula. Tonifies Heart Qi, clears heat in the blood, subdues yang and calms the mind, yet increases focus. Good for your little anxiety bundles.
Yunnan Bai Yao – Bleeding and shock. Regulates or stops bleeding. Most packets have a little red pill that is administered for shock or trauma.
Xiao Yao Wan (Free & Easy Wanderer) – Classic for harmonizing Liver and Spleen. Frustration, anger, mood swings, PMS and sugar cravings. One of the most common formulas, especially for teens.
Channel Flow or Du Huo Ji Sheng – Pain. Both formulas can be used for generalized or nonspecific pain.
Kudzu or ge gen wan formula – Neck, shoulder and jaw tightness. Wind invading the upper channels. Kudzu also has no contraindications and is used in prevention against breast cancer.
Pe Min Kan Wan or Bi Yan Pian – Sinus congestion formula useful in colds or allergies.
I left open 2 formula spaces for specific personalized formulas. These formulas would be based on current health conditions, age, gender, etc. For example someone with more stagnation might need something like Meridian Passage or Meridian Circulation. Chronically cold? There are dozens of formulas that warm and move circulation. Though the above formulas make up a basic “first aid kit” they aren’t specific to individual patterns. Seek the guidance of your practitioner to fill out your cupboard.