- What was Chinese Medicine like 2000 years ago?
- Did they have a cure for cancers like “prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, & bladder cancer?” Did they even diagnose cancers?
- Did the early Chinese doctors think that all herbs were safe? If not, what did they know about toxic herbs? What’s the real scoop on Aconite (called Fu Zi in modern Chinese and Wu Hui/Monkshood in the earliest Chinese medical texts)?
- Was Classical Chinese Medicine “a science in its own right?” Should we apply their ideas and treatments to today’s patients without testing them for safety and efficacy with modern research methods?
These are currently some of the big questions in the Traditional Chinese Medicine field. While they may not seem controversial to ask, I have ruined my chance to be invited to many acupuncture parties by writing about them and giving documented answers that go against some popular notions.
Let me be up front about disclosing my potential conflicts-of-interest. I am a Licensed Acupuncturist in Oregon. My website, ancientway.com, has sold Chinese herbs and herbal formulas since 1999. At one point I wanted to sell more herbs and more product lines on my site. Now I want to sell less, but focus on quality, safety, accurate information, best prices, and great customer service. Frankly, I dream about making a living as an author and cartoonist, educating and entertaining people about safe, effective natural medicine.
When I was in the “sell more” phase of my business growth, I ran into some problems with Chinese herb companies who don’t want the public to have direct access to their products. This upset me but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I let it slide for several years, as I thought perhaps it was just my desire to make more money that made it feel not right. But as I studied more of the laws around supplements and drugs, looking to see if I could develop my own product lines to compete with the companies who didn’t want my business, another story started to emerge. A large number of the “high end” Chinese herb companies completely ignore the laws around marketing unapproved drugs. Despite the often voiced fear that the FDA is actively seeking to restrict access to herbal medicine, they do very little to enforce their consumer protection rules around marketing herbs as drugs. This has led several Chinese herb companies to boldly compete with each other in terms of having the strongest claims about diseases their formulas can treat, the traditions they come from, the scholarship of their founders, etc. They want to keep their profitable gigs going while staying out of the eyes of the regulators.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a kidney.
Reading books that challenge my world-view has been a lifetime pursuit for me. It’s how I got into Eastern Philosophy and Natural Medicine in the first place. I ordered _Natural Causes: Death Lies, and Politics in America’s Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry_ by Dan Hurley when it came out, hoping that I’d be able to dismiss biased and hasty arguments that (I imagined) lacked depth and scholarship.
Instead, I was shocked (yes, shocked!) to read about one of my professors from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine and another well-known acupuncturist who owns a “respected” herb company in Portland who both quietly settled out of court after significantly contributing to Beverly Hames’ kidney failure (she had to have dialysis, a kidney transplant, and multiple surgeries just to survive) with herbal formulas tainted with Aristolochic Acid, a naturally-occuring chemical in several herbs.
Yes, this revelation has caused some serious soul-searching for me. It’s also led me to do a lot more reading of other books critical of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine world, renew my interest in scientific research methodology, and re-evaluate much of what I learned about herbal medicine and medical history from a much more cautious, skeptical perspective.
Yes, I still “like” Chinese medicine. But I like my patients and customers even more.
There’s also the fact that a Chinese doctor from 2000 years ago isn’t going to sue me for criticizing him. In fact, I’m convinced that if an ancient Taoist physician did show up here in a time machine, we’d have a great time. He’d be fascinated to hear all about chemistry, the history of medical discoveries since his era, and want to know both the best and worst of the ideas from his time.
I’ve never been sued by anyone. I’ve never had to recall any products I’ve shipped. But I would do a recall in a minute if I learned that I had shipped out products that had caused someone to die or have kidney failure and knew that other bottles from that batch were on my customers’ shelves. I take extra precautions to make sure my customers are informed about potential problems with what I sell them, for their protection and mine.
It is possible that I’ll be sued some day. It would probably be for libel (written defamation). I write some highly critical things about people and their products. My protection against that is to pay very close attention to detail and documentation. You can be sure that if I write that someone’s company is an “illegal drug smuggling operation” that I’m not just making it up. Generally, I write to them and first and give them the chance to correct me, in which case I offer to apologize and retract the mean things I wrote about them. But so far, the main tactic is to ignore me while they can still make money from their gullible customers. Acupuncturists make up a lot of these gullible customers, by the way. Acupuncture patients trust their acupuncturists. Customers may be gullible, too, but they don’t have a medical license and a Master’s or Doctoral degree giving the impression that they know what they are talking about.
What was Chinese medicine like 2000 years ago?
This is a big and fascinating question, especially as one of the main movements in the current Western Chinese Medicine world is to try to restore and practice Classical Chinese Medicine from this era.
The Han dynasty has fascinated me for a long time, as I’ve studied Daoist philosophy and alchemy for decades. I still study it, but more from a “history of medicine, magic, and science” perspective than from a “I’m going to use their ideas in my clinic” point-of-view. The Han Dynasty was roughly from 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.. The _Early Chinese Medical Literature_ texts are from a tomb in 168 B.C.E. They were written in about 200 B.C.E.. The earliest Chinese Herbal Materia Medica is the Divine Farmer’s Classic (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing), which may go back as far as 100 B.C.E., but was likely added to and edited at least into the 2nd or 3rd century C.E..
There isn’t yet a great translation of it into English, but I have what is available, and am working on improving it.
The other important early Chinese medical texts from this era are the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic (where the acupuncture meridian system was first described), which may be from about 100 B.C.E. but may have been added to and edited for several centuries after that, and the Treatise on Cold-Induced Disorders (Shang Han Lun) by Dr. Zhang Zhong-Jing from about 200 C.E. Most of Dr. Zhang’s clan died in epidemics. He came up with a theory to treat similar epidemics. It got pretty popular, but Chinese people kept dying in large numbers due to epidemics. If Dr. Zhang had taught that tiny demons are on your hands and washing them with soap and hot water chased them away, it would have helped.
These are all fascinating and important texts, and may even have some treatment gems that should be thoroughly researched. Many formulas and herbs from these texts are still used today, most of them without good supportive research (I point this out because some of these herbs and ideas helped Beverly lose her kidneys). There are some ideas which are no longer used, as even an ardent New Age quantum occultist would regard them as superstition (like having an amputee facing East tap your inguinal hernia with his peg-leg to chase the demons out of it). I find them all interesting, and am not interested in cherry-picking only the “good” ideas and hiding the bad ones, or in just focussing on the “bad” ideas and ignoring the good ones. Well, once in a while I cherry-pick. After all, I still make my living largely from acupuncture, despite its critical research and questionable theories. I’d rather prove it works than show it doesn’t work, though at this point I’m more interested in knowing the truth than making money. But I can’t yet pay the mortgage with truth.
Most acupuncturists don’t have these books and didn’t study them to get their degrees and licenses. They may have studied books about these books, or just seen references to them in their modern texts. I’m a bibliophile (married to a librarian) and have an embarrassingly large number of books on Chinese medicine and esoteric subjects. Some of them are quite rare and expensive. For example, the _Early Chinese Medical Literature_ book pictured above is so rare that the cheapest online copy is $385. That’s my copy, for sale on eBay. The next copy is $480, onward up to $660! I just read the whole thing, cover to cover, after turning down a $195 offer for it.
I don’t point this out entirely to impress you with dollar amounts, but to show that I am a serious student of these topics and have access to the best books about them. I read a little Chinese, but the English books are often better. Most Chinese people can’t read the ancient texts anyway, and many of the modern Chinese books about Traditional Chinese Medicine are biased with cultural propaganda. My current opinion is that the best thing Western students of Chinese medicine and history can offer is to give scientific and academic insight from our position outside of Chinese cultural and political biases. It is well-established in medical research that Asian countries almost always only publish acupuncture studies with positive results, in case you’re wondering what I mean about “cultural and political biases.”
Did they have a cure for cancers like “prostate cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, & bladder cancer?” Did they even diagnose cancers?
In the world of science, theories and findings are put forth in papers which are “peer-reviewed.” This means that a bunch of highly educated people try their hardest to poke holes in the arguments, show flaws in the thinking, and challenge the conclusions of the author. They often do this anonymously so social factors don’t get in the way of strong criticism. Scientists expect this. They demand it and want it. That process helps them refine their theories, learn from mistakes, and push forth to make even more useful discoveries.
The process of criticism and peer-review is lacking in the Chinese herbal supplement world. Someone can literally make up a cure for cancer or STDs and put it on the market, making direct and dramatic claims about it and recommending that other acupuncturists prescribe and sell it to their patients for those diseases. This is usually done without even trying to make up research or put footnotes to references. That’s how uncritical the Chinese medicine community is. If you think I’m exaggerating, just check this out for yourself. Here’s part of that link, to Ocean Pearls, a formula from the Classical Pearls line:
Yes, this is my favorite current example. This company has done no studies, has not asked the FDA for permission to market this marvelous cure, and the fellow who came up with the formula, Heiner Fruehauf, doesn’t like “laboratory science” but instead uses a Scientology-linked “diagnostic device” that is illegal to import into the USA because it doesn’t work. I’ve offered him $500 and an apology if he can prove it works in a cheap, simple test, but he’s ignoring me.
Heiner’s formulas and theories are largely from the Fire Spirit School of Chinese Medicine. This group’s favorite herb is the toxic Aconite/Monkshood (Fu Zi). It’s in the Ocean Pearls formula and many of the formulas of the Classical Pearls line. According to research from a Hong Kong hospital, Aconite causes more significant adverse reactions than all other Chinese medicine products combined (that includes things like Cinnabar/mercury sulfide, Realgar/Arsenic sulfide, Scorpions, Centipedes, Ma Huang/Ephedra, and every other herb, mineral, and animal in TCM). The Fire Spirit School is mostly from the late 1800s, though they use many older theories. I certainly feel justified in writing critically about these products, as many patients (and acupuncturists!) have no clue about the history, science, or legal status of products like Ocean Pearls. Since it is marketed for life-threatening conditions (some of which have well-studied therapies shown to work), I would certainly want to know “the other side of the story” if I were a patient with cancer and an acupuncturist/herbalist tried to talk me into this type of therapy. Again, as I’ve clearly stated, I’m always willing to update my posts or offer apologies to anyone I’ve offended if I am shown to be wrong or can be successfully argued out of my position (i.e. if you can convince me that Ocean Pearls is a legal and ethical product, I’ll let the rest of the world know). So far, here is the “best attempt” to talk me out of my critical stance on Ocean Pearls and the Fire Spirit School:
The emperor’s seat is for the Heart, not the General. Transmission involves “seeing it”. One doctor sees it and then passes this down to the next. This is true transmission. When you start to see it you don’t need words like, ovarian cancer and gonorrhea. Or, clinical study for that matter. Those words are for practitioners who do not see it. For western doctors. He has put them there to help practitioners( who do not see it) to better contemplate their uses in the Western medicine dominated world. Not to be taken literally. You mistook those Western medicine words as the reason to prescribe. That’s where your mistake was. If you read Zheng Qinan’s books, then understood them, you wouldn’t need to talk about Heiner. There is nothing really new there in Zheng Qinan’s words. It was passed to him. He could “see it”. He then wrote books to help others to “see it”. In his books there is only true understanding of Chinese medicines principles. This learning is referred to as the simple. It is easy to get lost in the myriad things. It may seem silly but I feel a deep compassion for you. You remind me of how I felt when I was lost in the myriad things.
OK, sorry dude… [Sarcasm alert!] I should have known that when the product is marketed specifically as a “remedy for toxic conditions in the lower burner, such as venereal disease, abnormal cervical changes due to HPV, and prostate and ovarian cancers” it is not meant to be taken literally, and those are just “Western medicine words.” If I were more “spiritually enlightened” I’d “see it” and wouldn’t need words, clinical study, or anything complicated, just the simple truth of the enlightened ancients. Tell that to the patient with Ovarian Cancer trying to decide what therapies to choose for what could easily be the last 6 months of her life. Or would you just tell that to her widower when he’s mad that you sold her on a completely bogus “remedy” when her mainstream doctors had a chance of saving her life?
Anyhow, I’m always willing to push my research a little farther, so I spend a couple painful hours wading through Zheng Qinan’s nearly incomprehensible “Scroll 1 of Chinese Medicine’s Principles,” which you’re welcome to wade through as well. In general, it’s an attempt to link the Trigrams of the I Ching to Zhang Zhong Jing’s 6 stages theory from the Shang Han Lun, and determine all clinical prescriptions based on the positions of solid and broken lines in the Trigrams. Hey, I’m game for anything, as long as it is proven to actually work (ideally not by unethical human experimentation on uninformed patients with serious diseases). But this looks more like a half-baked theory from the 1800′s, and certainly not something a modern cancer patient should gamble their life on. I’ve spent a lot of time studying (and practicing) the I Ching, Daoist alchemy, Qi Gong, and related arts, so I’m certainly not new to the symbols and terminology. The important link of Zheng Qinan’s trigram theory to Ocean Pearls is that the treatment principle applies to all diseases in the “lower part” of the body. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what kind of bacteria, virus, or cancer cells are there, the important factor is where it is in the body. Great theory, huh?
The Hunyuan Research Institute (good luck finding actual research they have done) is another “Chinese Classics” group. Their website appears to mostly sell Fu Zi/Aconite (this shows how obsessed they are with this one herb). I used to sell Aconite, but removed it after a respected senior acupuncturist recommended I do so a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve removed most products containing Aconite, largely to reduce the charges of “hypocrisy” when criticizing the Fire School theories. This was unnecessary, as some traditional patent formulas with small amounts of Fu Zi are unlikely to cause the problems that intentionally large doses cause (I didn’t sell many of them anyhow. It’s not like I was claiming they could treat cancer or STDs).
Since I’m about to look at the oldest known references to Aconite in Chinese medical lore, if you’re not yet certain how important Aconite is to the Sichuan Fire Spirit School promoters, check out Heiner Fruehauf’s essay, “The Importance of Aconite (fuzi).” There is not a series of these interviews with “The Importance of Ginseng” or “The Importance of Mint.” It’s mostly about the Aconite.
Before I dive into the Ma Wang Dui tombs, let me be very clear: Aconite is a very powerful herb which may as of yet prove to be very valuable for treating serious diseases in modern medicine as well as modern practice of Chinese medicine. However, I’ve looked at all of the research and texts I can find, which all seem to say it is a toxic narcotic. I’ve summarized my studies here: Aconite/Fu Zi: A toxic narcotic, more analgesic than morphine. Certain aconite alkaloids are used in topical patches in China to treat severe pain. It’s got anaesthetic properties: it numbs nerves and has some opioid effects. Then there’s the heart arrhythmias and death…
Did the early Chinese doctors think that all herbs were safe? If not, what did they know about toxic herbs? What’s the real scoop on Aconite (called Fu Zi in modern Chinese and Wu Hui/Monkshood in the earliest Chinese medical texts)?
Now that you are brought up to speed on why this is more than an historical issue for dusty academics, let’s get dusty in the 168 B.C.E. tomb of Li Cang, the Lord of Dai.
I’m in awe of Donald Harper’s meticulous translation of these ancient texts, written on silk which was folded and rotted at the edges, becoming a stacked puzzle missing pieces. He’s a university professor and a specialist in early Chinese intellectual and religious history. He’s not a practitioner of Chinese medicine. His income is not related to selling herbs, especially Aconite. Here is his introduction to Aconite from _Early Chinese Medical Literature_ (page 105):
One drug, wuhui (monkshood), occurs four times in Wanwu [the earliest herb list, called Myriad Things], the most separate entries of any substance: monkshood “stops jie” (an ailment of uncertain identity); “ingested for one hundred days monkshood improves a person’s ability to run”; monkshood “makes horses run faster”‘ the last entry only preserves the name wuhui… Notably, wuhui is the second most used drug in the Mawangdui medical recipe texts (excluding liquors, vinegars, and fats) with twenty-one occurrences [footnote here says "Cinnamon and curled cinnamon combined occur twenty-three times"]. In MSI.E its main use is external, for wounds, abscesses, and scabies; it is used once internally for hemorrhoids. Its use in MSIII is internal, chiefly in tonics and purgatives as well as to increase one’s speed when traveling by foot. The drug, an aconite, was one of the famous early Chinese poisons–a potion produced from it was used to coat arrowheads and other weapons (MSI.E 37-43 provide recipes for treating wuhui poisoning). All aconites are a source of aconitine, a narcotic alkaloid still in use as a sedative and pain killer… Appreciation of its toxic and narcotic properties in early Chinese medicine is well documented in both Wanwu and the Mawangdui medical manuscripts. Wuhui and other aconite drugs continued to be used internally as purgatives and stimulants in later materia medica, although they were no longer the poison of choice in recipes for rapid travel. The Shennong bencaojing assigns this use to langdang (henbane), which states it “makes a person walk vigorously, running in step with a galloping horse.” [A footnote says: The Shennong bencao jing also notes that eating too much henbane "makes a person run crazily."]
One of the main Ma Wang Dui medical manuscripts which talks about herbal medicine is called “Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments” (Wu Shi Er Bing Fang). They include ailments like “Dog Bites a Person” and “Mad Dog Bites a Person.” Most things are wounds, bites from scorpions, leeches, snakes and lizards, warts, hemorrhoids of various types, swellings, hernias, and burns. There is one ailment on the list for problems caused by a toxic plant: ”Wuhui (Monkshood) Poisoning.” Yes, Aconites have been the main cause of plant-based poisoning in Chinese medical culture since before 200 B.C.E.!
Unschuld didn’t have access to Harper’s translation when he wrote _Medicine in China: A History of Pharmaceutics_. But he was aware of the “Recipes for 52 Ailments” (Unsculd, 14):
The oldest records of this kind were found most recently. In 1973, the so-called Han Grave No. 3 of the Ma-wang-tui site near Ch’ang-sha yielded various medical silk manuscripts, four of them containing data on materia medica. Of these, the most valuable for today’s historian is a fragmentary text that contemporary Chinese scholars call Wu-shih-erh ping fang (“Prescriptions Against 52 Illnesses”) because of the number of health care issues listed in it. the Wu-shih-erh ping fang mentions, in 170 different prescriptions, various therapeutic techniques, including moxa-cauterization [which was a mugwort-wrapped marijuana joint--K], petty surgery, pressure with stones, massage, cupping, steaming, spells, and dominating the text, the application of a total of about 247 drugs. Detailed instructions are often provided on pharmaceutical preparation and dosage forms of substances originating from mineral, herbal, animal, and human sources, as well as from the realm of commodities, such as “clothes of the dead” or “a female’s first menstrual towel.”
My older Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica by Dan Bensky recommended Rhino Horn for Aconite poisoning (don’t bother trying, Rhinoceros horn doesn’t really neutralize all poisons, lower fevers, or fight serious infections, at least no more than your hair or fingernails do). That doesn’t show up in this text. Here are the options for Aconite poisoning recommended in 200 B.C.E.:
- Drink the urine of a young boy.
- Take a three-fingered pinch of peony root in hot water.
- Peel, pound, and boil a chunk of lycium root (Di Gu Pi) in liquor.
- Swallow some soybeans.
- “Boil iron and drink it.”
- Spread some lovage root on an aconite arrow-wound.
- Dig into the ground for a foot or so, boil some deep dirt and drink a cup.
Looking for the current symptoms and antidotes to Aconite poisoning, it seems there isn’t much that can be done other than stabilizing the patient. WebMD reports on side effects:
Do not use aconite. Aconite root is UNSAFE when taken by mouth. All species of the plant are dangerous, and so are processed products. Aconite contains a strong, fast-acting poison that causes severe side effects such as nausea, vomiting, weakness, sweating, breathing problems, heart problems, and death.
Some people use aconite in a cream or lotion that is applied to the skin. This practice is also dangerous. The poisons in aconite can be absorbed through the skin, causing severe side effects.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Do not take aconite by mouth or apply it to your skin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It is UNSAFE and can cause serious side effects, including death.
Since there apparently is no good antidote to aconite overdose, perhaps keeping some young boy’s urine on hand is a good idea if you’re taking doing high dose Fu Zi therapy. Perhaps you can see why it particularly upsets me that Ocean Pearls is specifically recommended for breast-feeding women, with no warnings at all about potential side-effects.
Several of the ancient recipes including Wuhui/Monkshood/Aconite are for external conditions such as scabies. They involve powdering the Aconite, cooking it in lard, and putting that on the itchy, painful spot which is then wrapped with some hemp cloth. This would indeed be very effective in stopping the pain of scabies or an injury. The anaesthetic effects of Aconitine would be most welcome and very impressive.
Here are a couple internal recipes including Aconite from the Ma Wang Dui tomb texts. They are from the category “To lighten the body and increase strength” and “To purge the inside and increase vapor [Qi].”
…Large male rabbit. Skin and remove the intestines. Take four-cun long beixie (yam), one handful; zhu (atractylodes, one handful; and wuhui (monkshood), ten [3 characters missing] pare the skin and chop finely. Add the large male rabbit meat to the medicine, mix completely, and dry without letting it see the sun. After one hundred days wrap it in [1 character missing, often silk or leather for wrapping herbs]. Use one three-fingered pinch after the meal for one hundred days. It keeps for six or seven years. [1 character missing] eating it is allowed. Use as you wish.
Another. Take xixin (asarum); dried jiang (ginger); jungui (curled cinnamon); and wuhui (monkshood)–altogether four substances. Smith [beat to powder] separately. Take four parts of xixin (asarum) to two each of dried jiang (ginger), jungui (curled cinnamon), and wuhui (monkshood). Combine them. Use a three-fingered pinch after the meal. It increases the vapor, and also makes a person’s face lustrous.
Since Xi Xin/Asarum has been of note lately due to its Aristolochic Acid toxicity, which can cause kidney failure, it makes me realize that the few urinary problems on the list of 52 ailments (Urine Retention Ailment and Lard Urine) could possibly be related to the bladder cancer and kidney damage caused by Aristolochic Acid-containing herbs. Here are a few of the recommended treatments for urine retention from the Ma Wang Dui texts (Harper, 255):
Soak the neckband of an undershirt and dandruff in one cup of liquor. Let it bubble and drink it.
At daybreak on a jisi day [from the traditional calendar, a type of astrological calculation], shout. Face east and urinate. If it does not desist, repeat it.
Another. Use the hem-band from a robe to bind the thumb of the left hand once.
Yes, I cherry-picked those. I left out the recipes for boiling snails and scallions in liquor, and other herbal teas. Anyhow, there are modern treatments for urinary retention. If your bladder is painfully full and you can’t pee, you should go to the emergency room ASAP. You can shout to the east on your way (as long as it’s an auspicious day).
I can hardly wait to write about the remedies for the demonic worm curse (Gu toxins) from the Ma Wang Dui texts. Be sure to check back for that post. I’m going to call it “The Woo of Gu.”
Before going on to the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica entries for Aconite, I’ll reference one more relevant part of Harper’s translation of the Ma Wang Dui medical manuscripts. Heiner repeatedly has claimed that Aconite was called the “King of the 100 Herbs” in the Classics of Chinese medicine.
Heiner provides no references for this, and I’ve never seen it any any of my books. Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me if they did call it “King of the 100 Herbs” 2000 years ago. But since I am interested in history, scholarship, and documentation, I’ve kept my eyes open for the Herb that is the King. Harper didn’t disappoint me (Harper, 407):
King Wei said: ”Why does the Master advocate jiu (leeks)?”
Wen Zhi replied: ”When Lord Millet sowed and tilled, the herb that lived a thousand years was jiu (leek) alone; thus, it was named for this. It receives heaven’s vapor early, and its receipt of earth’s vapor is secure. Thus, those who are skittish, timid, dispirited, and frightened eat it and regain regular strength; those whose eyes do not see clearly eat it and regain regular brightness; those whose ears to not hear eat it and regain regular perceptivity. Eat it during the three months of spring and neither affliction nor illness arises; and muscle and bone grow ever stronger. For these reasons it is called king of the hundred herbs.”
Leeks! Available in almost every produce section, leeks are well-established as safe for regular consumption. They are very tasty in a leek and potato soup (with lots of dill, mmmm…). Clearly the ancients found them to be highly powerful medicine. Here are its classical functions:
- Treats anxiety and depression
- Restores eyesight (likely a cataracts reference, but we’ll just say it cures blindness)
- Restores lost hearing (cures deafness)
- Prevents all illness if eaten in spring (“supports healthy immunity”)
- Increases muscle and bone strength
Hmm… how can we capitalize on this? Leeks are readily available, which is troubling. They also aren’t generally thought to cure blindness, deafness, etc. Perhaps it’s because only the leeks picked from a special mountain in China on the most auspicious day have those properties… That’s it! This is how I can get people to pay top dollar for my special Chinese leek pills from Mount Leek. I even have a great marketing tagline:
“Take a leek!”
—Next episode: Aconite in the Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica (Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing)
—For more on the various claims and ingredients of the Classical Pearls line:
—As usual, please leave comments, questions, or corrections. I read them all (I still get 50 spam comments to 1 real comment, so if you have a pulse and a thought, please share it!).