While acknowledging all the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles of healing, a branch of TCM called Taoist Traditional Chinese Medicine (TTCM) does not emphasize the use of herbs to clear diseases and associated symptoms as standard TCM does. Rather, it shoots for the high mark of all-body health and wellness focused on longevity, immunity, and mental, spiritual and physical strength using mainly tonic Chinese herbs. The sovereign principle of healing body-mind-spirit with superior class tonic Chinese herbs based on supplementing the “Three Treasures”:

  1. Jing (essence – the source of life): the most dense treasure which includes reproductive fluids
  2. Qi (Vital energy) – which generates movement
  3. Shen (mind or spirit) -the most subtle treasure, representing the manifestation of Jing and Qi.

Herbs that tonify Qi include:

  • Ren shen (ginseng)
  • Dang shen (codonopsis root)
  • Huang qi (astragalus)
  • Da zao (jujube date)
  • Bai zhu (white atractylodes rhizome)
  • Feng mi (honey)
  • Gan cao (licorice root)
  • Geng mi (rice)
  • Huang jing (Siberian solomon seal rhizome, Polygonatum)

Herbs that tonify Jing include:

  • Du zhong (Eucommia ulmoides)
  • Gou qi zi (goji berries, Lycium)
  • Shi hu (dendrobium stem)
  • Shu di huang (steamed rehmannia root)
  • Tian men dong (wild asparagus root)

Herbs that Nourish Shen and Calm the Mind include:

  • Ling zhi (Reishi mushroom, Ganodermum lucidum)
  • He huan pi and/or he huan hua (albizzia flowers and/or bark)
  • Ye jiao teng (fleeceflower vine/Polygonum multiflorum stem)
  • Bai zi ren (Semen biota – arbor vitae or thuja tree seeds)
  • Fu shen (underground portion of Wolfiporia extensa mushroom with pine tree roots)
  • Yuan zhi (Chinese senega root – Polygalae tenuifoliae)
  • Suan zao ren (Semen jujube)

In modern times people have tended to move away from the most traditional way of ingesting medicinal herbs, which is as tea or decoction (tang). Both terms are interchangeable but a decoction generally refers to long boiling and cooking down some of the original water. Teas are made either by infusion or light, brief simmering. It is done with lighter herbs and plants whose superficial volatile elements therapeutically active. Tangs or decoctions are made by simmering herbs for a long time and gradually concentrating the active ingredients while reducing the amount of fluid. For convenience, many prefer taking pills, capsules, dry extracts (granules), or alcoholic tinctures. Tinctures are most popular in the West, but the alcohol it includes tends to create a warmer energy. Tinctures have the advantage of convenience of ingestion, needing less herbs to achieve a therapeutic reaction, and long shelf life. All of these benefits of using herbs in alcoholic tinctures very desirable for most on-the-go people today. However, most Chinese herbs are indicated to be taken as teas or decoctions. I personally feel it is important to honor ancient traditions and occasionally prefer to take some therapeutic herbs and formulas as a tea or decoction.

Eucommia ulmoides

Eucommia or du zhong is an ancient herb included among the superior class of tonic herbs in the first ancient Chinese herbal called Shen Nong Ben Cao. It is regarded as the king of the Jing herbs and held in equal esteem with ginseng. The Chinese name “du zhong” literally means “enlightened one or “thinking of transcendence” and attests to the high esteem it held. The Ben Cao says it treats lumbar and spinal pain, supplements the center, boosts Qi, makes the sinews and bones firm, strengthens the will, and gets rid of damp itch below the reproductive organs and lingering trickling of urine. Consumed over a long time, it lightens the body and allows you to withstand aging. The energy and flavors of du zhong are neutral to warm, slightly acrid, sweet. It has a special affinity for the Kidney-adrenals and the Liver. Du zhong is also used to secure and quiet a restless fetus. Following is a recipe for a longevity Three Treasure tea I created wanting to incorporate the tremendous benefits of du zhong (Eucommia ulmoides) bark. Lesley and I have recently been enjoying this each morning and sometimes in the late afternoon. We think the benefit of taking du zhong with the other herbs in my Three Treasure Tea is well worth getting used to its – to us – pleasant flavor.

Three Treasure Jing, Qi, Shen Tea


  • Du zhong (Eucommia) – 15 to 20 grams
  • Shu di huang (prepared rehmannia) – 6 to 9 grams
  • Huang qi (astragalus root) – 9 grams
  • Dang shen (codonopsis root) – 9 grams
  • Dang gui – 3 to 6 grams
  • Da zao (jujube dates) – about five, crushed after boiling them in the tea

To this I might add about 30 drops each of the following Dragon Herbs products:

  • Premium ginseng or Heaven Ginseng extract (If you add this you may not need to add the codonopsis root which serves as a weaker ginseng alternative.)
  • Duanwood Reishi Mushroom Extract
  • Deer Antler

Brew all of the above in three or four cups of water. Glass or ceramic is still the best vessel in which to brew Chinese tonic herbs. Consider investing in one of Dragon Herbs’ beautiful Pyrex glass receptacles along with a base on which one can place a small candle. They appropriately call their receptacles “Desktop Botanical Garden” because seeing the many shapes and colored Chinese herbs brewing in their beautiful receptacles is a work of art in itself.  If you use Dragon Herbs’ pot, you can simmer the herbs directly on the stove to boil for 10 to 20 minutes and then place it on the glass receptacle with a single flame to keep it warm. Feel free to add water as necessary and to vary the contents and adjust the dosages of any of the above as desired. To learn more about Chinese tonic herbs and to obtain the best quality products I recommend perusing Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon Herbs website and take the time to read the theory and philosophical principles behind incorporating these powerful tonics into your health regime. Ron Teeguarden is hands down the leader in expounding upon, promoting and bringing to market the finest wisdom and quality herbs which he dispenses. My favorite source for the best quality bulk Chinese herbs is Andy Ellis’s Spring Wind herb company. Many feel suspicious of using Chinese herbs because in general they are grown and contaminated with pesticides. Andy is a licensed TCM doctor and trained in Chinese pharmacies in China. He started Spring Wind in a small shop in 1992. In 2005 he began to locate sources of organic herbs and has a growing selection of USDA NOP Certified Organic Herbs. He along with most other Chinese herb distributors have opted to only sell to licensed practitioners. This is not so much because most of the herbs are dangerous but in the event of someone having an adverse reaction, the whole industry does not have to suffer with possible legal consequences. There are other suppliers of quality bulk Chinese herbs such as NuHerbs where you may find online bulk Chinese herbs. I recommend buying a pound of each of the herbs and keep then in your kitchen to use in teas, add to soups and other dishes. You can also explore the prepackaged Dragon Herbs tea formulations which are excellent. Dragon Herbs also offers a live chat or telephone consultations to help you decide which of the tonic herbs may be best for you.

Root and Branch Treatment

Just as trimming the unruly branches of a tree may not stop them from growing back, so also treating various disease signs and symptoms may not prevent them from recurring in one form or another signifying poor health. To finally cure a disease one must also treat the underlying root. This is what Chinese tonic herbs can do unlike any other supplement or therapy. I sincerely hope that you will consider adding the making of daily or periodic tonic herb tea to your daily regime. I know you will be amazed at how much younger and better you will feel. This approach to healing is not so much chasing after diseases and symptoms but treating underlying root causes of disease. Note: I have no vested interest in any of the companies mentioned above. The reason I mention them is because I think they are the best and are the companies from whom I currently purchase my special tonic supplements and bulk Chinese herbs.

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