Introduction to Tonic Herbalism

Three Treasures
There are a number of names for the three circuit model including Jing, Chi, and Shen. In Ayurveda, these three energies are known as Ojas, Prana, and Shakti. The same archetypes are referred to as the pig, the lion, and the human in contemporary philosophy. In essence, they represent the structural composition of our life force: the body (consciousness), the breath (unconscious), and the heart-mind (spirit or superconsciousness).

These three energetic elements are viewed in the reverse in Buddhism. The three poisons are greed, hatred, and delusion. This alternative perspective offers the initiate a model established for neutralizing traces of karma that bind soul to the wheel of reincarnation, Mara. Through this understanding, an individual is better equipped to combat the traps of physical interplay to experience the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, otherwise known as enlightenment, truth, and community.

Jing
Jing is our primal energy. It defines our genetic potential and is also forms the basis for our aging process. In turn, this energy from a mother and father come together in the creation of a child. This level is referred to as prenatal or original Jing. As gestation is concluded, the newly born infant begins to breathe and eat by way of his or her own primacy, postnatal or active Jing is released to maintain the functions of the body.

Jing is concentrated in the sperm and ova. Right exercise and diet greatly influence the transmutation and cultivation of our own energy. Through the use of Jing tonic herbs, the energy that our children inherit is refined. Yang Jing herbs tonify and enliven weak and depleted minds and bodies and are associated with the element Fire. Similarly, Yin Jing herbs prevent against energy leakage and degeneration of cells in the body due to inflammation known as false fire especially around the heart and kidneys. They are associated with the element Water.

Top Jing Herbs
Cordyceps
Pharmaceutical Name: Cordyceps
Treasures: Yin Jing, Yang Jing, and Chi
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Sweet
Organs Associations: Kidneys and Lungs
o Used to strengthen the body and mind at a fundamental level.
o One of the primary herbal substances used in tonic herbalism as an anti-aging agent and for the purposes of rejuvenation.
o A very powerful lung tonic, increasing respiratory capacity and efficiency.
o One of the most potent immune modulating agents known to mankind.

Eucommia
Pharmaceutical Name: Cortex Eucommia
Treasures: Yang Jing, but also Yin Jing to a lesser degree
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Sweet
Organs Associations: Kidneys and Liver
o Used to strengthen the back (especially the lower back), skeleton, and joints (especially the knees and ankles).
o Believed to confer strength and flexibility to the ligaments and tendons.
o Often used by athletes to strengthen the entire body.
o Been found to help regulate blood pressure.

Ho Shou Wu
Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Polygonum Multiflorum
Treasures: Yin Jing and Blood
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Bitter, Sweet, and Pungent
Organs Associations: Liver and Kidneys
o Constant consumption of this famous “longevity herb,” is said in the Orient to help return an aging person to youthfulness.
o It is said to increase energy and to clean the blood.
o One of the most important and widely used Chinese Tonic herbs.
o Considered to be a primary fertility-enhancing herb.
o Research has demonstrated that Ho Shou Wu can very significantly increase superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. SOD is a powerful natural antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been demonstrated to have powerful anti-aging benefits in humans
o Perfect essence tonic for the athletically inclined, providing strength, resilience and stamina to the body.
o An ideal longevity-promoting, anti-aging tonic herb.

Chi
Chi holds meaning of varying degrees to different people. In tradition Chinese medicine, Chi is defined as immediate energy that generates thought and action. The kind of Chi that produces healing and nourishment from food and air is our nutritive vitality. Wei Chi is the source of defensive energy that prevents the loss of energy and protects against Sahr Chi, energy with negative intent.

Chi is also produced as a result of the functions of the Lungs. Chi strengthens the digestive system as well as the respiratory system and has potent immune potentiating activity. Like Chi, blood is considered to be a vital aspect of our being. Blood is produced from the food ingested after Chi is extracted through the spleen. Our red carpusels are nutritive and are considered yin. Our white carpusels are protective and are considered yang.

Top Chi Herbs
American Ginseng
Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Panax Quinquefollum
Treasures: Yin and Chi
Atmospheric Energy: Cool
Taste: Sweet and Slightly Bitter
Organs Associations: Lungs, Spleen, and Stomach
o Provides energy, adaptability, and heightened awareness
o Tonifies the lungs and is said to moisten and cool the lungs.
o Promotes the secretion of body fluids.
o Especially strengthening to new mothers.

Astragalus
Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Astragalus
Treasures: Chi and Blood
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Sweet
Organs Associations: Spleen and Lungs
o One of the premier tonic herbs of China.
o Builds energy and helps warm up the body.
o One of the most important double direction immune modulating herbs in the world.
o Said to strengthen the primary energy of the body and strengthen all metabolic, respiratory and eliminative functions.

Eleuthero
Pharmaceutical Name: Radix Acanthopanacis
Treasures: Chi and Jing
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Slightly pungent, somewhat bitter and astringent
Organs Associations: Spleen, Lungs, Kidneys, Heart, and Liver
o Recognized the world over as one of the ultimate adaptogenic agents.
o Helps provide real long term energy and the ability to cope with a world of stress.
o Premier supplement for those who require additional physical strength or who suffer as a result of low resistance to the side effects of extreme exertion. It aids in the recovery from hard exercise, as well as from extreme mental exertion.
o Provides an abundance of both quick and long-term energy that results in an improved ability to handle stress, and further results in the improvement of one’s capacities, both physically and mentally
o Has been demonstrated to be a remarkably safe substance.

Shen
Shen is our spirit or higher nature and is expressed as love, compassion, generosity, acceptance, forgiveness, and tolerance. Shen is not considered to be an emotion or a state of mind. It is nonjudgmental awareness. Thinking, seeing, speaking, hearing, exercising, working, and loving are functions of Shen. The age-old way of developing Shen is to give as is expressed in the Golden Rule of popular western culture, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Shen tonic herbs facilitate the opening up of Shen, and some are also stabilizers which help to stabilize our emotions so that the spirit reemerges as ruler of our awareness. Dominant emotions can become obsessions or even addictions. If Shen is weak, emotions become imbalanced and desires run wild. Shen tonic herbs have been used by great sages to foster enlightenment and harmony with nature.

Top Shen Herbs
Asparagus
Pharmaceutical Name: Radix or Tuber Asparagi Lucidus
Treasures: Yin Jing, Chi, and Shen
Atmospheric Energy: Cold
Taste: Sweet and Bitter
Organs Associations: Lungs, Kidneys, and Heart
o Credited by Chinese wise men as being able to open the heart, prolong life, and also to tonify the sexual functions of both men and women.
o Used in Chinese herbalism as a major lung tonic.
o Prolonged consumption will make the skin soft, supple and smooth.
o Useful for those who are experiencing dry skin due to a dry environment or due to internal dryness.
o Seems to lift a person’s spirits in a way that is consistent with the Taoist philosophy of attaining happiness

Reishi
Pharmaceutical Name: Ganoderma
Treasures: Jing, Chi, Shen
Atmospheric Energy: Neutral or slightly warm
Taste: Bitter
Organs Associations: Heart, Liver, Lungs, and Kidneys
o Has attained an unparalleled reputation in the Orient as the ultimate herbal substance.
o Believed to be a tonic to all of the body’s energies. It was revered as a major tonic to each of the three Treasures, Jing, Chi and Spirit.
o Believed to build primal power and to replenish energy spent handling stressful situations.
o Most famous as an herb used to build the immune system.
o Ancient books said that “continuous consumption of Reishi makes your body light and young, lengthens your life and turns you into one like the immortal who never dies.”
o As a Spirit tonic, nothing compares to Reishi. It is simply the greatest Spirit tonic of them all.
o Used by the Chinese to protect the Spirit and to nurture the growth of intelligence, wisdom and spiritual insight.
o Studies done in Asia indicate that Reishi is a supreme health food supplement that has virtually no toxicity or side effects.
o A profound immune potentiator. It has been found to significantly improve the functioning of the immune system whether the immune system is deficient or excessive. In this sense, it is an immune “modulator”—that is, it helps to modulate, or regulate, and fine tune the immune system.

Schizandra
Pharmaceutical Name: Fructus Schizandrae
Treasures: Jing, Chi, and Shen
Atmospheric Energy: Warm
Taste: Sour and Sweet with salty, pungent, and bitter overtones
Organs Associations: all major organs and all twelve meridians
o Develops the primary energies of life and is thus of great use to any one who consumes it.
o Generates vitality and radiant beauty when used regularly for some time.
o A safe and powerful tonic herb which is mildly calming and possessing pain-alleviating properties.
o Said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the Kidney energy (especially the sexual energy and functions in both men and women), and causes the skin to become radiantly beautiful.

Five Vital Organs
The early Yang phase is called Wood. It is the first stage of the new cycle. It controls the liver, eyes, blood, and Chi. It is the center of action and is empowered by creativity. The late Yang phase is called Fire. It is the development of Yang energy and controls the heart, blood, and Shen. It is the center of love and is empowered by wisdom. The element which established balance is called Earth. It is the center. It controls the spleen, digestive system, blood, and Chi. It is emotional centeredness and is empowered by nonjudgmental contemplation.
The early Yin phase is called Metal. It represents the transition of Yang energy into Yin energy. It controls the lungs, skin, and Wei Chi, defensive energy. It is the center of release and is empowered by nonattachment. The late Yin phase is called Water. It represents the storage of Yin energy and controls the kidneys, the skeleton, and Jing. There are Yin and Yang aspects to the kidneys. It is the center of courage and is empowered by maturity. Musically, these circuits are associated with the pentatonic scale: C, D, E, G, A.