TCM, AcuGraph and Herbs 5/5 (37)

We get lots of questions about TCM interpretations of AcuGraph results. TCM practitioners are sometimes confused about how to interpret graph findings that don’t *seem* to agree with their TCM training.

One common example is Spleen Excess. What do you do when you see an excessive reading for the Spleen meridian in a graph, though TCM teaches the spleen can’t be in excess? What does it mean?

Well, in this case, dampness is usually the culprit. Dampness in the spleen will often display as an excessive reading on the graph. And I guess that really makes sense if you think about it. Water conducts electricity, and extra water in the channel would indeed cause a higher conductivity reading.

Now, I’m not saying there is necessarily actual physical water in the meridian. I’m simply pointing out that from a philosophical standpoint, the reading is logical. I’ve seen it many, many times.

Now, having said that, today’s example comes from our AcuGraph Community Forum. Dr. Shawn Soszka asks the following question:

How does the Acuherb program derive the herbal formula prescription if AcuGraph doesn’t rely on TCM diagnosis? This is what I have taken away from the discourse within this thread. Furthermore, how do I develop a customized treatment – I’m using a proprietary blend of TCM herbal formulas in the Cruise Ship’s Spa.

It’s a great question. Here’s my response:

The AcuHerb program derives the prescription from the energetic condition of the meridians. These formulas are not designed to address specific TCM syndromes like heat, dampness, wind, etc., but rather are used from a meridian energetic standpoint to create or restore energetic balance between the meridians. We focused on using formulas that are gentle, safe and effective. The 22 AcuHerb formulas have the added advantage of coming in 750 mg tablet form, so only 4-6 tablets are required daily, rather than 10-20 tea pills.

As for developing your own customized treatments, I would recommend taking a similar approach. Use herbs or formulas that target the specific meridians involved from an energetic standpoint.

Watch for more information coming soon about AcuHerb and the AcuGraph 3.2 upgrade, which includes a greatly enhanced new herbal section.

He follows up with another question:

Can I assume a high reading suggests more of a yang reading? How do you measure this on a yin and/or yang channel? In my training, I was told its not possible to be too yin.

I’m going to open this one up for comments. What do you think? Click here to view comments or post your own.

Until next week,

–Dr. Larsen

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Dr. Adrian Larsen

Adrian P. Larsen, D.C., F.A.S.A., C.Ac. Dr. Larsen is President of Miridia Technology Inc., and one of the developers of the AcuGraph Digital Meridian Imaging system. He currently divides his time between research, product development, and teaching. Dr. Larsen also holds certifications in Applied Kinesiology and CPK, and has specialized training in SOT and craniopathy. He, his wife, and 7 children reside in Meridian, Idaho.

17 Replies to “TCM, AcuGraph and Herbs

  1. This answer doesn’t seem to actually answer the question posed. It answers “What are the goals of the prescriptions”, but does not answer how those formulas were derived.

  2. Para uma saude equilibrada o yin e o yang tem que estar em igual percentagem.Ao haver desiquilibrio quer dizer que energeticamente o meridiano em questao começa a estar afectado.

  3. this is a comment on the other question. Of course you can be too yin. In fact most Americans are too yin, ie. too damp, heavy, phlegmy, lethargic, etc.
    Also I agree with “b” that you did not really answer the first question.

  4. Responding to “b”

    Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I made the assumption that Dr. Soszka knew the basics about how AcuHerb works. Let me fill in the details I left out.

    The AcuHerb software examines the graph results and makes recommendations from a list of known classic formulas based on the graph results. In the most simple sense, it’s just if/then logic. So if the Lung is excessive, the software recommends the formula that addresses Lung excess. It does not design a formula on the fly, so to speak.

    The formulas were selected by Dr. Nan Lu, OMD, L.Ac. You can read more about him at

    Dr. Lu chose the formulas based on effectiveness, gentleness, and safety. All the formulas are classics, in use for hundreds of years so they are time tested and proven for the above criteria.

    The forthcoming AcuGraph 3.2 release will include 2 major enhancements to the formula selection process:

    1. It will rank the selections based on the likely level of effectiveness. Therefore, if a graph has 6 potential formulas recommended, the software will rank them so the practitioner has a good idea where to start. The goal, of course, is to find the one formula that will be the most effective. We never recommend using more than 2 formulas at a time for a given patient.

    2. The new software also includes information about potential pharmaceutical interactions for every formula for enhanced safety in recommending the formulas.

    So to summarize, AcuHerb doesn’t derive formulas, it merely recommends classic formulas, and does so based on the graph results.

  5. In regard to the second question:
    I have heard this as well that there are not excesses of Yin
    However deficency of Yang gives the appearance if high Yin.
    Does anyone know the rationale for saying Yin can not be in excess other than it’s association with deficency , emptiness etc.

  6. The acuherb recommendations are very confusing as they all herb formula don’t fit the clinical picture in terms of their condition, and usually only one or two out of many may apply. AK muscle tetsing( strong indicator stays strongw/ herb in mouth after points are stimulated by graph recommendations, and all spinal subluxations cleared does the body show need for the ones on the list. For those who can”t muscle test( shame on those who can”t)a supine leg length check can suffice, with the correct herb keeping the leg length balance; the shorten leg will show up on the herbs not needed as balance is the goal, not over or understimulated by the wrong herbs needed at that time. Improper herbal RX can change healing priorities for the worse. Also please remember that acupuncture must be seen as a sensory input into the brain, activating the sensory cortex to talk to the hypothalamus, up to the limbic, down to the hypothalamus, up to the prefrontal cortex and motor info down again to the hypothalamus for hypothalamic release facors to target the pituitary, autonomic balance(sympathetic/parasympathetic) and neurotransmitter release from the brain stem to do what(Maintain homeostasis and optimal autonomic regulation) Next change the patients attitude , diet exercise and rest and HEALTH RETURNS. READ NEURO-ACUPUNCTURE. The latest scientific explanation on why and how it works in Western scientific terms, not the old school mumbo jumbo of chinese metaphors traditional passed down through the ages. Thank God for Acugraph, doing 5 in a row gives the same data, having Five masters reading your pulse and be given 5 different explanations and different point selection is very poor inter professional reliability. Very discouraging.

  7. The acugraph is measuring electrical resistance and conductivity not yin and yang.
    The old school mumbo jumbo has served the Chinese culture for several thousand years. As to inter professional reliability, they have done spinal palpation studies with poor consistency in subluxation findings. And the same with AK muscle testing. You can use an activator, toffness, motion palpation or reset muscle spindle cells and get similar results. Even Dr. Morter’s BEST technique got results equal to diversified-not better (according to his research). Acupuncture is no different, one of those 5 different point formulas can possibly be as effective as the other. That is why they call it an art.
    If the graphs and herb recommendations do not seem to “jive” with patients presenting symptoms, a topical allergy like antibacterial soap,fabric softener/dryer sheets or electromagnetic interference can change the graph (and muscle test). The sensory cortex theory sounds interesting, I think I’ll stick with moves qi and blood. I agree with the consistency and technology of the acugraph. Thanks Dr. Larsen

  8. First off, thanks Adrian I like the blog. As for John’s post – I wouldn’t consider dampness as too yin. Dampness is dampness, phlegm is phlegm, etc, etc. That why we have these differentiations. I was just wondering why a yin organ would have a high reading – which was explained as a possible dampness issue (for the spleen) which makes sense. I still do wonder what a high left sided reading indicate with men and women, as it has been suggested that each side can represent yin and yang. Yes, I suppose I am a bit fixated on these terms – but they are so prevalent in Chinese Medicine.

    P.S. – J. Gordon Smith – I agree with you on your comment.

    1. Dr. Soszka
      It is only yin or yang when compared to something else. For example, dampness is yin compared to dryness. Also you are describing (or observing) a progression of a condition. Phlem is a progression from dampness and heat. Heat congeals damp to create phlem. Disease process is not absolute, you are observing the transformation from health to a disease state. With TCM assessment you are observing where you are at in the process, then you describe that observation in yin/yang excess/deficient, hot/cold etc. The terms yin and yang and high and low resistance readings are not interchangeable (my opinion), although it may work for some explanations. Hope that helps,

  9. Dr. Larsen, I think your explaination about Spleen excess makes sense. Would you please also explain the meaning of Kidney excess? Some TCM teachers says that Kidney cannot be excess but I measured a few people with Kidney excess.

    1. Little boat You measured a kidney acupuncture point that is high in electrical resistance. The ling Shu authors did not have an acugraph. You may find the kidney pulse is weak with measuring the ting point resistance as high. A muscle problem or Subluxation in foot or actually anywhere along the channel pathway could be a cause. An emotional component could also be responsible.

  10. Using the terms, too Yin or too Yang is oversimplifying in my opinion. While Chinese medicine uses Yin/Yang theory at it’s core the six pernicious influences (liu-yin) are what take part in disease. The Spleen for example likes to be dry. However excessive Dryness (usually caused by heat-fire) can be harmful as well. My question would be; If the Spleen is in a homeostatic state where will it read on the P.I.E. ? I assume 100 and green.

    Excessive to a practitioner can mean many things; Qi, Blood, Heat-Fire etc… Is a high reading 100+ and red indicative of all of the aforementioned or more specific as to the physiological reference of Spleen excess is dampness?

    It is important to not limit ones set of tools to a single linear mindset that is a habit hard to break in the West. In my use of the AcuGraph, I place it under yet another tool to add to the four examinations. The Damp-Spleen issue can easily be verified with pulse, tongue, and client intake. The difficult thing it seems for us to grasp in the West is that you may get many different results from a group of master Chinese doctors. They all may be correct as the methods used may detect pathologies before they manifest.

    Western science excels in the detection after the manifestation. Our goal is to encourage the natural desire to maintain homeostasis.

    Breathe Deep

  11. I have a question about the binding agents used in the Acuherb tablets. I hesitate to prescribe something that has 20-40% cellulose as binding ingredient to keep the pressed powder tablet from chipping and breaking apart.
    I couldn’t get the information from the Acuherb website, maybe someone knows?

  12. The binding agent is a combination of some of the ingredients of the extracted powder and some from the crude herbs themselves. This is then mixed with starch which keeps the pressed tablet from chipping or breaking apart.

    The binding agent % is well under 5%.

So, what do you think about it?