In the majority of TCM schools in the United States, students are taught how to derive herbal formulas from raw single herbs. While this method of formulating herbs works, it is only effective with strict patient compliance. This requires time, energy, patience and a forgiving palate, due to the strong taste of raw herbs, that most patients are not willing to expend nor endure.
- Time – amount of time it takes to prepare the herbal decoction
- Energy – amount of Qi expended to prepare the herbal decoction
- Patience – patient’s willingness to follow precise cooking instructions
- Forgiving Palate – patient’s willingness to endure the strong taste of herbs
Fang Jia Fang (方加方 Formula Plus Formula) is a method of prescribing herbs that eliminates the barriers listed above, both for the patient as well as the practitioner, in order to achieve the desired result – improved health. In other words, Fang Jia Fang makes it practical for practitioners to prescribe and prepare herbal formulas, and for patients to easily comply with practitioner’s instructions in order to achieve optimum treatment results.
What is Fang Jia Fang?
Fang Jia Fang is the concept of using formulas like single herbs so that when you customize an herbal prescription you are adding formulas with formulas. The single herb ingredients in herbal formulas are decocted and extracted together so that the single herbs no longer retain their individual properties but have combined with all the other single herbs to create a unique formula that has its own specific properties and functions. When you then combine formulas together you are in essence adding the effects of each formula together and not the properties/functions of the single herbs within those formulas.
An example of Fang Jia Fang that is demonstrated regularly by Master Chang is his prescription of combining the three Zhu Yu Tangs together to dispel blood stasis and qi stagnation. Instead of using each of the Zhu Yu Tang individually, such as Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang (Drive Out Stasis in the Mansion of Blood Decoction) for moving the blood in the upper jiao; Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang (Drive Out Blood Stasis Below the Diaphragm Decoction) for moving blood in the middle jiao; Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang (Drive Out Blood Stasis in the Lower Abdomen Decoction) for moving blood in the lower jiao, he prescribes them together to reap the benefits of their synergistic effect. When using the three Zhu Yu Tang formulas together, the desired effect of removing stagnation from the three jiaos and allowing blood to move and flow smoothly in the body is achieved in less time and more effectively than if each of the formula was used individually.
However, many of you may now question about the duplication of herbs, such as Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) and Gan Cao (Radix et Rz Glycyrrhizae), in the three Zhu Yu Tang formulas if they are used in combination. Won’t the total dosage for a single herb be too high? Yes, if raw herbs are used to make the formulation. But when using herbal extracts, then “no” – when herbal extract formulas are used in combination, it is not the effects or properties of the single herbs within the formulas that are added together, but instead it is the effects of the different formulas that are combined together. This is important to remember when using herbal extracts to prescribe custom formulations through the concept of Fang Jia Fang – the effects of the formulas are what is combined and not the individual herbs within the formulas. Prescribing custom formulations through this concept of Fang Jia Fang is the most effective way and how all the great Taiwanese practitioners use herbal extract powders to customize herbal formulations.
About the Author
Master Jimmy Wei-Yen Chang has over 25 years of concentrated clinical experience applying his expertise in differential diagnosis and herbal prescription. The author of a pulse diagnosis manual, Pulsynergy, Master Chang currently pursues his specialties in private practice in Hacienda Heights, California, and is widely recognized for his skills in correlating expert pulse taking and herbal prescription.