For many in the Western world, Chinese medicine is looked at as something of a curiosity, a mysterious and perhaps confusing system of herbal medicine practiced in obscure corner shops with little oversight and documentation.
But the truth is that Chinese herbalism and Chinese medicine in general is arguably the most authenticated, proven and venerable system of natural medicine in human history, backed by countless thousands of years of experiences and success.
Few know that better than Rehmannia Dean Thomas, the founder of Shaman Shack Herbs (and former apprentice to Master Herbalist Ron Teeguarden) who has been successfully healing people with his own customized Chinese herbal formulas since 2006.
Now serving as a Master Herbalist in his own right, Rehmannia recently appeared at the fantastic Awake & Empowered Expo in suburban Detroit, Michigan to share his story, as well as his top herbs for healing everything from liver diseases to hormonal imbalances, anemia, candida and more.
Prior to the event he took the time out to answer some questions; in the interview below he shares with readers what he believes to be the top five most useful herbs in Chinese medicine.
AHW: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in herbs, specifically of the Chinese variety.
RDT: I traveled to China with my Chinese ex-wife in 1985 and visited many herb farms. Their reverence for the plants and the soil changed my life. Upon returning, we got a book by Ron Teeguarden and began making tinctures. I met Master Teeguarden in 1989 and became his personal “Teamaster” and apprentice for 8 years.
AHW: Is your name Rehmannia your given name? What does it mean?
RDT: Rehmannia is the name of a profoundly invigorating Chinese Tonic herb. It is an anti-aging herb and blood builder. I had the name revealed to me while in a sweat bath with David Wolfe and others.
AHW: What exactly is Taoist Tonic Herbalism in a nutshell?
RDT: The Tonic herbs are the superior class of Chinese herbs, because they provide broad-spectrum therapeutic benefits and are found to be safe for daily general consumption as part of a general maintenance health regimen. They are considered a class of superfoods.
AHW: What is it that made you so drawn to Chinese herbs and the Chinese way of healing…? Have you ever found a natural healing system that is as effective as this?
RDT: I understand that I am a reincarnation of a prominent Chinese doctor, so, even though I grew up in Kentucky, things Chinese always held particular fascination for me. When first contacting the herbs, I felt I already knew them.
AHW: Are there special properties in Chinese herbs that aren’t found in others throughout the world that we know of? Also, how does someone know whether they’re getting quality herbs from China or not?
RDT: The overall philosophy and methodology on Chinese herbalism takes into account our sexual, genetic, epigenetic, metabolic and spiritual well being and seeks to balance these within the energies of Yin/Yang.
The system we use has been extremely refined over 5,000 years into a distinct materica medica and method of application. It is very concise and well time-tested. That is what draws me to it.
AHW: Tell us a bit about your new book Raw Chi. What inspired you to write it? I’ve long wondered if a raw foods diet is good for people living in cold climates, do you believe your ideas can help someone thrive in these areas by getting more warming energy in their diet?
RDT: Chinese medicine has traditionally believed that excessive raw food consumption can contribute to excess moisture build-up and retention around the digestive organs- primarily in women. This is the classic “damp spleen” syndrome, which can lead to sluggish energy, weight gain and possible anemia. Yet, i was meeting women on a raw food diet and their spleen pulses were very strong. So I knew there was an equation. I soon realized that Chinese herbalism contains formulas that tonify and warm the spleen meridian.
I tried applying these formulas as a preventative adjunct for women on raw food diets, and they got warmer, built more blood and managed water weight. I believe my revelations in raw Chi represent the missing link to making the raw food diet work perfectly.
AHW: What are the five most useful herbs in Chinese medicine in your opinion?
Reishi, Ho Sho Wu, Astragalus, Gynostemma, Goji, Schizandra, Rehmannia- there are many more that are as powerful as these.
AHW: Which herbs have the most unique qualities that you’ve studied and used…Do any stand out as having untapped potential?
RDT: Reishi clears spiritual baggage and brightens one’s light. All people who use it will experience spiritual clearing and empowerment. Ho Sho Wu and Rehmannia tonify the kidney- thus, they are anti-aging herbs. Pearl helps the skin retain a wrinkle free luster. Schizandra tonifies all 5 organ meridians.
AHW: How would someone go about finding a quality Chinese herbal practitioner in their area?
Best to go to a Chinese herb shop and ask if there is a TCM doctor there. They usually know what they’re doing.
AHW: Thanks for joining us and thanks for speaking at this year’s Awake & Empowered Expo.
RDT: Thanks for having me.