Shen Nong Society Conference

With Guest: Shen Nong Society Conference

Episode Qi075

Welcome to this short series of conversations from the Shen Nong Society's conference.
You'll find here some conversations with participants of this day long gathering, and more in-depth conversations with some of the presenters. 
We will start with Kevin Ergil and go into into the history and impact of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. There is a lot in the background that we don’t think about on a daily basis, and yet it provides a foundation for being able to practice with herbs.
Listen in to this deep dive into the regulations that affect our practices, but which we rarely consider on a day to day basis.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • Privileges and challenges of being classified as a dietary supplement
  • History of the FDA
  • Good Manufacturing Practices and what this means for your herbal clinic
  • We are allowed to operate as we do because of enforcement discretion
  • What happened with ma huang
  • Just because something is in your scope of practice, that does not mean you are quality to do do it
  • Simple things you can do to keep your patients safe and protect your ability to use herbal products
  • Why joining your state and national organizations is a darn good idea
  • The political process takes time, patience is required
  • How Kevin stays motivated when working on issues that take years or decades to resolve
In this conversation we discuss:
  • Zang fu and six levels
  • A perspective from the fire school
  • The paired five phase aspects of the six levels
  • Qi transformation of the six channels
  • Clinical usefulness of open, close, pivot
  • Considering the pivots
  • Some of the ways illnesses can transmit through the channels
Learning formulas is far more than memorizing as series of functions and indications in a book. It requires a kind of attentiveness. A sort of rigorous and yet flexible way of parsing a patient’s signs and symptoms and checking it against both your book knowledge and clinical experience.
In this discussion we explore that tender edge of knowing, not knowing and how to operate in the clinical reality of uncertainty.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • A formula and discussion that treats vertigo
  • Pattern recognition is important, but it is also important to understand traditional disease names
  • When to pay attention to a symptom and when to ignore it
  • Even when a treatment is successful, do you go back and try to really unpack why things went they did
  • The fine balance of testing a formula
  • The value of writing up a case study
  • Considering your Plan B as you’re writing your first formula
We mistakenly thought our conversation with Dr Yu had ended, but what can I say… wrong again.
There is a little more of the conversation genereated from Dr Yu’s thoughts on the qi transformation of the six confirmations and the role of theory in the clinic.
In this conversation we discuss:
  • Dr Yu’s thoughts on Open, Close, Pivot
  • The qi transformation model helps us to both understand the use of physiology and keep an eye out for how to prevent creating new problems in as we work on the main complaint
  • There is a lot of theory that does not make sense, or is not that helpful in clinical work
  • Yang ming issues can become tai yin issues with improper treatment, but it rarely goes the other way from tai yin to yang ming
Links and Resources

Here are a couple articles on how the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act affects acupuncturists and herbalists

  • Prepared Medicines in Relation to FDA CGMP for Dietary
  • SupplementsHow do Food and Drug Administration CGMPs for Dietary Supplements Affect Oriental Medicine Practitioners


Doctor Yu now has two books that have been translated into English. You can purchase them from Eastland Press. 

Also, for a clear discussion of the “root, branch and middle” that Dr Yu discusses in this conversation, read this article that was written by Liu Du-Zhou and translated by Steve Clavey for another view on how the 六經, six confirmations are connected to and influence each other.

Again, here's that link to the excellent article from The Lantern on qi transformation through the six confirmations by Liu Du-Zhou.



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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.

Michael Max

Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
About me
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.