At OHCO, we LOVE herbs. Studying Chinese herbal formulas and the way they are designed is a never ending / awe inspiring activity in our glorious lab, Mother Earth. Like pieces operating on a Chess board, herbs are placed into formulas based on how they can interact with each other.
Just as in Chess where you know pieces by their shapes and names (King, Queen, Rook, Bishop, Knights and Pawn), in writing Chinese herbal formulas, we list herbs according to a similar hierarchy (Emperor, Minister, Assistant and Guide). The strategic approach to writing a formula does not necessarily have to include each of these functions nor are herbs bound to a particular position within that hierarchy. Meaning, an Emperor herb of one formula can be the assistant to the Emperor herb of another formula etc.
This blogpost is about Guide herbs and how important they are even though they generally fall low on this hierarchy. Guide herbs are crucial in their function of which there are two. 1) They lead the way and guide the formula to a specific area of the body or into specific channels and organ systems. 2) They harmonize and integrate all the other herbs in a formula for efficiency in absorption and overall efficacy. Guide herbs are also referred to, in the vast array of Chinese medical texts, as ‘messengers’, envoys and conductors.
“Tong Zhi Bu Tong Bu Tong Zhi Tong”: Where there is free flow there is no pain, where there is pain there is no free flow!
A good example for using a guide herb is found when comparing our formulas OhcoFlow and OhcoMotion. Both formulas invigorate the blood, break up stagnation and nourish the blood to facilitate free and healthy flow of Qi and Blood in the meridians. They are fundamentally the same formula. This basic formula is very good for addressing a variety of discomforts and pain in the body. The only difference between the two is that Pueraria Root (Ge Gen) was added to OhcoFlow for its ability, as a guide, to lead the entire formula to the upper body. For this reason, OhcoFlow is for Upper body pain. OchoMotion is for pain. Stated another way, OhcoMotion is a broad spectrum formula which may be very helpful in all kinds of body pain, whereas OhcoFlow is a narrow spectrum formula specific for upper body pain because a guide herbs was added to send the formula to a specific place in the body.
In all aspects of life, we need guides. We call them by many names and they show us the way. Herbal formulas are no exception to this rule.
Jaya Vijayi Bhava! May you always be victorious, the Epic Boulder Way!