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General Herbal Formulas for Supporting Internal Arts Practice


What herbal formulas would you recommend that are safe for ongoing use, for people who are healthy, but practicing Taijiquan, Xingyi and Bagua daily. Most of the discourse about TCM herbs seems to be about treating conditions, but there is little literature out there about herbal support for people looking to expand mind/body/spirit - outside of Ron Teegarden’s books, which make some lengthy claims. Thoughts?


Honestly, I think it is best to not use anything other than diet and practice if you don’t have moderate to major issues. The food diet and mental diet are of utmost importance and if those are good, and you practice, you should be in good shape overall. On the milder side, some basics like moxibustion on a somewhat frequent basis can be helpful, and possibly mild tonic herbs like goji berries worked into the diet can be good.

Now that said, no one is perfectly healthy and everyone has an imbalance/pattern from a Chinese Medicine perspective. So the real answer is that it would depend on your overall diagnosis. If you tend towards yin deficiency, liu wei di huang wan, if you tend towards liver qi stagnation, xiao yao wan, if you tend towards spleen qi deficiency, bu zhong yi qi wan - those are the basics. But hard and fast rules are generally met with poor results in Chinese Medicine so work with what is presenting and that is the answer.


I’ve known several high level martial artists who deliberately used yang tonics as most hard styles are essentially yang in nature. Of those, only one actually also did a lot of meditation and qi gong to nourish his yin and only he was what I would consider balanced. The others were hyper aggressive and to a tee all of them showed symptoms of liver yang rising (go figure…). The idea is to increase both yin and yang, which is entirely possible, but without balance going to far with only one is ultimately detrimental.

I agree with Chad, herbs are best used to treat underlying imbalance and not to ‘supercharge’ some aspect or health benefit.

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