Jade Remedies: A Chinese Herbal Reference for the
Peter Holmes, L.Ac., M.H.
Two volumes in
soft cover, 8 1/2" x 11", 962 pages, over 350 plant line drawings
Price: $65 per volume
Vol. 2: ISBN 1-890029-29-7
here to see a sample
Jade Remedies is a comprehensive, detailed and contemporary
reference source for the remedies used in Oriental herbal medicine.
Based on many years of research into historical and modern sources, it
presents over 450 plant, mineral and animal remedies used worldwide in
Chinese medicine. The remedies are divided into four types;
"restoratives," "stimulants," "relaxants," and "sedatives." The text
provides up-to-date information on botanical sources, plant habits,
biochemistry, pharmacology, energetic properties, therapeutic actions
and indications, preparation forms, dosages, cautions and
contraindications. The primary remedies are illustrated with botanically
accurate wood-block prints of the plants in the wild from the Zhi Wu
Ming Shi Tu Kao of 1848, the Chinese manual of medicinal plant
Jade Remedies represents three "firsts."
One, it spells out clearly and concisely the functions and uses of
Chinese herbs in easily-understood Western terms. Two, it summarizes,
distills and evaluates the modern pharmacological uses of Oriental
remedies by Western medical doctors in East Asia. Three, it may be the
first published text that organizes the Oriental materia medica
according to Western body systems rather than the traditional energetic
The information on these remedies
sought by the student, practitioner or researcher unfamiliar with
Oriental medicine is immediately available. As a Western rendition of
the Oriental materia medica, Jade Remedies represents a much-needed
complement to the standard Oriental version (whether in the Western or
Nevertheless, for each remedy the
text retains the traditional usage by symptom picture, or pattern of
disharmony-indications familiar to Oriental practitioners. By including
Western and Oriental information side-by-side, it forms a valuable
bridge between Western and Oriental pathology and herbal therapeutics,
allowing practitioners of both systems to better understand each other's
Jade Remedies is an invaluable and
unique resource for those wishing to enhance their health, for those
being treated with Oriental medicine, as well as for all students and
practitioners of the healing arts.
Review of Jade
by Alex Berks, L.Ac.
appeared in the Winter 1998
issue of Forum and Summer 1999 issue of California Currents
Jade Remedies: A Chinese Herbal Reference for the West by
Peter Holmes is an important book in the development of Chinese medicine
and a great clinical reference. The genius of this two-volume materia
medica is its application of terminology that bridges the syndromes of
Chinese medicine with the terms of Western pharmacology so that each
informs the other. The actions, indications and chemical constituents of
the herbs in Western terms elucidate the broad Chinese symptom
pictures, and the symptom groupings of Chinese medicine syndromes help
make the precise information of Western pharmacology more clinically
These volumes are about drawing together the ancient
and the modern and the East and the West. To do this, Holmes makes links
between herb actions and treatment strategies, between pharmacology and
therapeutics and between plant chemistry and pharmacology. The result
is that the author is able to make a large amount of scientific
information available in relation to traditional uses without reducing
the Chinese syndromes to facile and clinically useless actions.
applicable, Holmes also relates the Chinese herbs to similar Western
counterparts. He's had his eye on translating herbs from one tradition
to another for quite some time. This is his second major cross-cultural
pharmacopoeia reference work. The first was The Energetics of Western
Herbs: An Herbal Reference Integrating Western and Oriental Medicine
Traditions. This two-volume opus presents the pharmacopoeias of Western
herbal traditions with the symptom pictures of Chinese medicine. In
essence, Jade Remedies is a continuation of The Energetics of Western
For the Western practitioner unfamiliar with the
language of Chinese medicine, Jade Remedies is organized according to
Western anatomical systems. By doing this, Holmes is able to skirt the
problems of explaining concepts unique to Chinese medicine. For example,
the function of the Chinese concept of Liver shares little similarity
with the Western liver and essentially describes nervous system
pathology. Therefore, an herb like Bupleurum Chai Hu that spreads Liver
qi is placed in the "Nervous Sedative" class, more appropriate to its
primary Western action.
The Chinese symptom picture of
Bupleurum Chai Hu is referred to as: "Qi constraint with nerve excess" -
feeling stressed, unrest, chest pain and tightness, menstrual pain,
headache, painful digestion with bloating, allergies.
Translated into Western terms Bupleurum Chai Hu is: analgesic,
The Western indications
nervous hyperfunctioning with restlessness and pain,
headache, dysmenorrhea, intercostal neuralgia, myalgia, dyspepsia,
peptic ulcer, biliary and intestinal colic, IBS, spasmodic coughing and
Holmes continues in his thorough description. This is
one of nine Western indications for this herb. Its other actions are:
hypotensive; antipyretic; anti-infective, antiviral, anti-bacterial,
interferon inducent; immune regulator, anti-allergic; liver protective;
radiation protective; pituitary-adremocortical stimulant; astringent,
antiprolapse. Each indication itself contains an explanation. At the
same time, the text also includes the traditional Chinese syndromes, in
the case of this remedy: Gallbladder fire and Shao Yang heat. A Notes
section following each herb highlights the common use and explains mode
of action and modern applications. This section makes the book a must
read for the student who needs to find "handles" to hold the herbs in
One's image of an herb's function changes when
its class is reorganized. The new organization provides therapeutic
knowledge that localizes the herbs' functions. We begin to think of them
in terms of body system functions rather than purely energetic
functions. For example, Cinnamon Rou Gui is classed in the "Cardiac
Stimulants" instead of the more traditional "Interior Warming."
Remedies' listing of Chinese syndromes is even more complete than
Bensky and Gamble. The additional information makes the text expansive
and thought provoking. Holmes assigns extra vessel channel affinities
where appropriate (for example Bupleurum Chai Hu has affinity to the
Yang Wei channel) and assigns qualities such as moistening and drying
that go far beyond the Bensky presentation.
medica is an important contribution to herbal medicine. It pulls Chinese
medicine out of its timeless mindset as an ancient, imperially
sanctioned system of classical medicine to a viable system of health
care for the West. Allopathy needs the therapeutic potentials of Chinese
medicine to more effectively treat chronic and degene-rative diseases.
Chinese medicine needs a language for the West that scientifically
validates it. This materia medica is most probably the first that
preserves the soul of three-thousand plus years of vitalistic
art/science in a way the West can use. It is for this feat that Jade
Remedies becomes an indispensable reference source and will earn this
book and its author a place in history.
by Martha Moore, Herbalist, A.H.G.
the Townsend Newsletter, May 1999 as front cover feature
Jade Remedies: A Chinese Herbal Reference for the West
This is truly a unique and extremely useful text because it presents
the Chinese materia medica (almost 500 medicinals in all) in a
Western/contemporary format that is easy to understand. As such, it is
distinguishable from current translations of Chinese texts, such as the
Bensky & Gamble and the Hong-Yen Hsu materia medicas. The
introductory sections to each body system very carefully delineate the
differences between the anatomical organ-based Western pathology and the
energetic meridian-based Oriental pathology, thereby demystifying
Oriental medicine for many Westerners. For example, it explains the
difference between the herbs used to treat Liver conditions in Chinese
medicine and the herbs for liver conditions in Western medicine. The two
are entirely different because the Chinese medical Liver pathology
largely consists of functional neurological and endocrine disorders-not,
as we've come to expect, liver pathology. The confusion lies in the use
of the word "liver" for two entirely different systems of pathology.
One is physiological while the other is energetic. It's a real semantic
problem that clouds an accurate understanding of Chinese medicine.
Of course, this profoundly changes the way that the Chinese herbs
are classified. Jade Remedies subdivides the herbs for each body system
into four basic types: restoratives, relaxants, stimulants and
sedatives. This is based on the nineteenth century Physiomedical and
Eclectic classification of herbs by doctors such as Scudder, King and
Ellingwood. Holmes uses this Western vitalistic classification to link
the traditional Chinese herb uses (whose original usage is completely
embedded in vitalistic practice/terms) with modern, research based uses.
These issues and his procedure for reclassifying the remedies is
discussed by Holmes in several elegantly written and intellectually
stimulating introductory chapters.
Jade Remedies is an
excellent manual for both study and clinical use. It provides easy
access to accurate, reliable and often referenced information for both
the traditional and contemporary uses of Chinese herbs. For example:
The end index is extensive and would be very useful for the busy
practitioner or researcher, listing both symptoms, Western disease
conditions and traditional Chinese syndromes.
accurately gives various botanical species and genera that provide the
source for that remedy. These are important basics which we've been
largely missing in other texts.
Each remedy has a listing of
its main constituents. Plus, a discussion of its pharmacology is often
given in the accompanying Notes.
The different internal and
topical preparations of the herb are completely described. The dosages
are given in grams for the dried herb and mls for the standard tincture
preparation, as more and more of these herbs (especially the big tonics)
are becoming available in tincture form.
The Notes section
to each herb gives the reader a more in-depth feel for the remedy in
terms of its traditional uses, modern biochemichal findings and
contemporary applications for current diseases, including allergies,
autoimmune conditions, cancer, herpes, fibromyalgia and so on.
these features make Jade Remedies very helpful for anyone using Chinese
herbs. This is especially true at this time when Chinese medicine is
making such a huge transition to the West. However, Holmes is careful
not to throw out the baby with the bath water. He also preserves the
traditional symptom pictures (or syndromes) for which the herbs are
traditionally used. This allows the reader to make connections between
the pharmacological information and the syndrome application for each
This book is a creative, fresh approach that ultimately
serves to promote a dialogue if not a working synthesis between the
Western and Chinese herbal systems. In that light, Jade Remedies is
essentially an exploration in herbal integration, or a "cross-cultural"
herbal. All in all, it is an extremely useful and timely text that
consolidates a vast amount of research. It is an essential resource that
every herbalist or healthcare practitioner who wants to understand and
use Chinese herbal medicine should have on their bookshelf.