Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)


  Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM has been an herbal tradition dating back to 200BC. It is based on the concepts of Yin and Yang, the five elements, and how nature (our environment) effects our health. The Chinese believe that everything has Yin and Yang aspects, which are opposites like day or night. They look for patterns of disharmony when assessing one’s health with ill health being a result of a deficiency or excess between Yin or Yang.  Here are some aspects of Yin vs. Yang.

Yin           Feminine, Substance, Material, Conservative, Quiescent, Conserves inner  Vitality, The Earth & Moon, Night,  Water and  Viscera (internal organs)

Yang       Masculine,  Function, Activity,  Aggressive,  Active, Protects Body Strength, The Sky & Sun, Day, Fire and Somatic(structure-muscles, bones)

  The five elements corresponds to the five natural elements and how they relate to the fundamentals of the seasons, emotions, tastes and parts of the body. This five phase or element theory- wood, fire, earth, metal & water- has a central role in TCM representing the continual process of life. The five elements are interrelated in two ways- trophism and suppression. Trophism relates to production and stimulation- Wood produces Fire, Fire produces Earth, Earth produces Metal, Metal produces Water.   Suppression is inhibition- Metal suppresses Wood, Wood suppresses Earth, Earth suppresses Water, Water suppresses Fire and Fire suppresses Metal. Each is suppressed by another and each can suppress another. Their interactions are related and the ideal body health being that all are in proper balance within and among each other.

Element        Wood           Fire              Earth             Metal               Water

Location        East           South           Center            West             North

Season         Spring       Summer       Midsummer      Fall            Winter

Climate         Windy          Hot               Wet, Damp       Dry             Cold

Taste              Acid           Bitter              Sweet          Pungent       Salty

Emotion       Anger          Joy             Reflection        Grief            Fear

Chinese herbs have made their way into our cupboards used for cooking and spices as well as many types of herbal and green tea blends. When choosing a Chinese herb, use it’s actions to your advantage to help balance the five elements and the Yin/Yang within your body.

The following article is for educational purposes and not intended for diagnosis.  Always consult your health practitioner when needed.







Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis name means “dew of the sea”) is an evergreen shrub or shrublet native to seaside cliffs of the Mediterranean region. This tough and versatile plant thrives in full sun tolerating poor alkaline soil & drought.

There are various forms of rosemary from stiff upright shrubs, to low growing creepers, with heights ranging from less than 1′ to up to 6′ tall. Rosemary has glossy green leaves and winter or spring blooms of various shades of blue (rarely white or pink). The edible flowers can be used in salads, as garnish; are attractive to bees, butterflies & birds.

The aromatic leaves are widely used as a seasoning for all kinds of meat dishes (especially lamb), casseroles, marinades, baked fish, rice, salads, vinegar and oil. The leaves have been used for many centuries for external and internal medicinal preparations for nervous disorders, upset stomach, baldness, headaches, pain, arthritis, and bruises. More recently, rosemary has been researched and findings show positive results for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, indigestion, menstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, circulatory problems, eczema and rheumatic disorders. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant with antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. It can be taken as a tea internally or used externally as a skin wash. The essential oil is a great bath additive for sore muscles.

You can grow your own rosemary in herb gardens, containers or window boxes. Choose the hardiest variety for your area. Avoid planting rosemary in wet areas and protect from harsh winter winds (may need protection). Here are two of my favorite rosemaries, one is a low grower and the other is an upright grower.

Red Flowering’ Rosemary. This compact bush grows 24” tall by 18” wide bears attractive pink flowers with dark red hued detail. Deer resistant, drought tolerant and hardy to zone 7. Use in the landscape as a small hedge, in herb gardens or in containers.

‘Tailing Irene’ Rosemary. Creeping trailer that grows 6-12” tall spreading 30-36”. This late winter / early spring bloomer has delicate light blue flowers. Deer resistant, drought tolerant and hardy to zone 7. Use in containers, window boxes or hanging baskets. Works great as a ground cover for erosion control in rock gardens, banks and walls.

You should always consult your health care professional when needed. Pregnant women should avoid rosemary. Large or excessive use of the essential oil may cause irritations. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe and vice versa. All Drugs and herbs have side effects and influence each other.

If you would like to know more about rosemary and growing herbs, join me for Herbal Kitchen & Tea Garden Class at Ubiquitous Journey on Tuesday March 20th at 6pm and on Saturday March 24th at 10:30am and Sunday March 25th at 11:30am at The Pond Pad at Alpine Nursery. Email for more details:

References:  Blooming Nursery;  Sunset Western Garden Guide; Prescriptions for Natural Healing by Phyllis A. Bach