A Clinical Guide
by Guohui Liu
(Eastland Press: $65.00; 580 pp. ISBN: 0-939616-34-3)
Reviewed by Douglas Eisenstark, L.Ac.
Warm Diseases, A Clinical Guide by Guohui Liu is probably one of the best Chinese Medicine books to be published in English. Finally we have a book that puts it all together, theory, practice, historical perspective, written by an experienced practitioner and teacher. Just when you thought that Chinese Medicine simply couldn¹t be transmitted in English a book like this comes along. In the same league as Steven Clavy¹s Fluid Physiology and Pathology or Introduction to Meridian Therapy by Sudo Denmei, Warm Diseases shows us how a skillful writer and publisher can create an instant classic.
Mr. Liu has several things going for him in writing this book. First, he is a Chinese trained practitioner who studied with his father as well at the Chengdu University of Traditional Medicine. At Chengdu he was a professor where he also wrote articles and books. He now lives, teaches and practices in the United States. He is obviously comfortable in transmitting the material needed to understand and practice the material. Mr. Liu is fluent in the historical perspectives, which he weaves throughout the book. Finally, either he is being overly modest about his English skills or he had considerable help from Eastland Press for the book reads perfectly in its use of English. China¹s schools like America¹s have “teacher¹s editions” of their textbooks. Whereas many other Chinese Medicine texts seem to be a regurgitation of texts on subjects of which the author¹s have neither clinical experience nor adequate historical perspective A Clinical Guide very much is appropriately aimed towards the actual needs of its readership.
This book reads like that class you wished you had had in Wen Bing. Without an adequate explanation in theory, Wen Bing theory seems to be: “these are the symptoms, these are the formulas”. Liu takes us step by step through the process of understanding not just Wen Bing theory but also the mechanisms of Qi in all manners of treatment in Chinese Medicine. Probably as a result of his teaching experience, when a new concept is introduced in the book, Dr. Liu anticipates questions and answers them with helpful explanations and case studies. Dr. Liu obviously is aware of the difficulties in teaching the subject matter and overcomes them in an extremely careful and thorough manner. Theory, etiology, differentiation and treatment methods are broken down into a completely understandable and usable manner.
Wen Bing (and Shang Han Lun) is primarily about herbal medicine. Any herbalist should read the book for the extensive and carefully delineated discussions for the subtleties of the herbs and formulas. Modifications are also carefully explained. Although often shown by their English translation there are many comparison charts and descriptions of the formulas. One imagines that the editors at Eastland had more than a few discussions about how to handle the listing of formulas.
In short, I think this is the next book that students or practitioners of Oriental Medicine should add to their library.