
— updated 20030111 
Traditional Chinese Herbal Sciences courses: detailed curriculum to 2003Download a PDF version of this page. This in an archived curriculum, valid only through 2003. See current curriculum. 
Subtopics on this page…
OverviewSince 1992 the core curriculum in clinical Chinese herbology at the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute has included the following six courses:
Estimated times for completion of homework series are based upon annual student surveys. Beginning in 1997, RMHI has added an additional requirement to its core certification curriculum:
Since 1993, RMHI has offered advanced seminars for students who have completed the core curriculum or its equivalent:
C110, Health AssessmentEstimated homework and study time = 180 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Over a 12week period, students read the primary textbook, Traditional Chinese Herbal Science vol. 1, and complete four homework sets which are graded and returned with answers. These four homework assignments consist of a total of 22 clinical case studies that must be analyzed according to TCM rules of assessing symptoms plus written tongue and pulse descriptions. In addition, miscellaneous problems are included to help clarify errors in logic that new students commonly make. Case studies vary in complexity from simple patterns to complex health problems with multiple disharmonies (i.e., Deficiency of Kidney and Liver Yin with Damp Heat of Lower Burner and Liver Blood Stagnation). Most of these case studies involve some degree of multiple patterns, such as aspects of both Deficiency and Excess, Hot and Cold, that require students to think carefully about which symptoms and signs point to which aspects. The purpose of these case analysis problems is to introduce students to TCM as a framework for analyzing problems rather than as dogma to be memorized. Topics covered: TCM philosophy, comparison with western modes of scientific thought; the Eight Principle Patterns (Entities); the Fundamental Processes (Substances) of Qi, Blood, Jing, Shen, Fluids; the Six Pernicious Evils; Organ Disharmonies; Acute Feverish Illnesses (Shang Han and Wen Bing); tongue inspection; pulse palpation; principles of case analysis. C120, Health Assessment and Choosing HerbsInclass time = 60 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Oneweek seminar; full days including several evening lectures. First halfday: an exam is given on TCM patterns of disharmony, definitions, and recognition of key differences between similar patterns; passing grade = 70% or better; students may retake exam on this material again in several months if necessary. Most of the seminar time consists of demonstrating how TCM assessments lead to correct herb choices: students practice analyzing local volunteers and course participants, palpating pulses, inspecting tongues, taking health histories. The instructor discusses how these results are interpreted to determine an herbal strategy and a choice of herbs to resolve the primary disharmonies. Topics covered: Pulse analysis, tongue assessment; introduction to pharmacopoeia; principles of herb classification and correspondence between TCM health assessment (patterns of disharmony) and classification of herbal properties; choosing herbs to counteract specific disharmonies. Misc. topics: diet and environmental health factors from a TCM perspective, TCM properties of foods and environmental factors. C210, PharmacopoeiaEstimated homework and study time = 180 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Over a 12week period, three homework sets require students to choose six herbs or less that would best resolve the major aspects of disharmony for each of the cases analyzed in part 1 of the course. In addition, new cases are introduced which require analysis of disharmonies, determination of herbal strategy, and choice of major herbs. During this period, students are provided with an herb kit consisting of samples of 90 of the most commonly used Chinese herbs for taste testing and visual identification. Topics covered: Principles of classification of herbs by primary clinical function; clinical herbal strategies; 220 of the most commonly used herbs in the TCM pharmacopoeia; taste and nature, Organ/meridian classification, clinical functions, dosage, contraindications, selected physiological actions, ordering information and quality control, toxicity calculations (LD50). Misc topics: herbal research and critique of experimental design; problems in evaluating professional literature, commercial promotional material, and advertising claims; reading between the lines. C220, Pharmacopoeia and Introduction to Herbal FormulasInclass time = 60 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Oneweek seminar; full days including several evening lectures. First halfday: an exam is given on properties and uses of the Chinese herbs studied in C210, key differences between similar herbs, visual (and smell) identification of herbs, plus review questions on TCM patterns of disharmony; passing grade = 70% or better; students may retake exam on this material again in several months if necessary. Most of the seminar time consists of discussing how to choose herbs and herbal formulas based on TCM assessment descriptions patterns of disharmony); individual volunteers and course participants are used as examples,with continued practice palpating pulses and inspecting tongues. Bensky's Herbs, Strategies, and Case Studies is introduced and used to illustrate how classical formulas may be used to refine the ideas for herb choices and ultimately, a tailored herbal formula. Focus is on understanding classical formulas as ideas and as modules which can be modified; similar formulas are compared and students are taught to predict or guess a formula's function by analyzing ingredients. Topics covered: classification of herbal formulas by function; overview of major categories of formulas; choosing formulas to match primary clinical strategy; mixing formulas, adding modules or common groupings of herbs, and adjusting dosage; numerical methods for estimating how closely a formula matches the needs of complex cases; plant taxonomy. C310, Herbal FormulationEstimated homework and study time = 180 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Over a 12week period, three homework sets require students to determine complete, tailored herbal formulas that would best resolve the major aspects of disharmony for each of the cases analyzed in part 1 of the course, and using the primary herbs chosen in part 2 of the course. In addition, new cases are introduced which require analysis of disharmonies, determination of herbal strategy, and determination of a tailored herbal formula with specified dosages of each ingredient. Several problems are included which require students to comment on specific examples of herbal hype and misinformation from a TCM perspective. During this period, students continue taste testing herbs from their sample kits. Topics covered: Principles of classification of herbal formulas by primary clinical strategy; focus on the 90 most important formulas of Bensky's Formulas and Strategies; comparison of similar herbal formulas, key differences. C320, Herbal FormulationInclass time = 60 hours Required textbooks:
Format: Oneweek seminar; full days including several evening lectures. First halfday: an exam is given on properties and uses of both classical herbal formulas and individual herbs, key differences between similar herbal formulas, visual (and smell) identification of herbs, plus review questions on TCM patterns of disharmony; passing grade = 70% or better; students may retake exam on this material again in several months if necessary. Most of the seminar time consists of discussing how to tailor herbal formulas based on TCM assessment descriptions patterns of disharmony); individual volunteers and course participants are used as examples,with continued practice palpating pulses and inspecting tongues. Focus is on understanding classical formulas as ideas and as modules which can be modified; similar formulas are compared; emphasis is on understanding the net effect of a formula by analyzing its ingredients. Topics covered: choosing formulas to match primary clinical strategy; refining an herbal formula to match secondary aspects of a clinical case; using physiological information and lab tests to choose between herbs with similar TCM properties. Misc. topics: office procedures, herb ordering, herb spoilage and quality control, herbal manufacturing processes and the choices a clinician faces. C410, Advanced problems in TCMEstimated homework time = 120 hrs Format: To be completed are:
C44x series, Advanced seminars in TCMArranged annually according to interest: variable number of specified inclass hours. Format: seminar for students having completed basic sequence (C110, C120, C210, C220, C310, C320) or equivalent. Topics generally include comparative pathology: each year specific medical illnesses or classes of illness are chosen for discussion and analysis according to common TCM patterns and etiology. Past topics have included: heart disease, menopause, endometriosis, typhoid fever and the stages of Wen Bing; hemorrhagic fevers; gastroenterology.
