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— updated 2011-10-27


Review of HerbalThink-TCM version 4.0

by Paul Bergner

(Director of North American Institute of Medical Herbalism; Boulder, Colorado)

Copyright ©2011 by Paul Bergner; all rights reserved. Reprinted here with permission.

[Go to all HerbalThink-TCM user reviews]

The new version of Roger Wicke's Chinese Herbalism (now titled HerbalThink-TCM) software has just been released. This is educational software to learn Chinese herbalism from the bottom up, to increase your current knowledge, or to further advance already professional skills. The program includes training in Chinese syndromes and their differentiation, materia medica, and formulation. the key here is sophisticated programming in interactive learning. Using the program is like having an elder master Chinese herbalist running you through study drills, gently correcting you when your syndrome differentiation is slightly off, or making suggestions, through use of sophisticated programming of matching quizzes. The study can be set up to mimic just the way you collect information from a patient. You can start with a single symptom, then add more elements of the syndrome, such as facial color, pulse, tongue, sensations of hot/cold, etc. and at any point select from a list of possible syndromes. The program corrects you, gives you hints, and remembers your correct answers and delivers you new challenges as you learn. The same can be done for materia medica and Chinese formulas. The program can be taken in conjunction with the educational program at the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute.

It would be a mistake to think this is only for beginners, this can also take the advanced student or professional herbalist/acupuncturist to a higher level. The problem of tunneling on a few favorite diagnoses and a few favorite treatments is a problem in all fields of medicine. In Chinese medicine, a single symptom may make the differentiation between two similar syndromes, and correct differentiation may make the difference between therapeutic success and failure. Thus traditionally, students of Chinese herbalism underwent rigorous memorization of their material in great detail, a rigor not engaged in today in North American training in herbalism. And that rigorous memorization was done in conjunction with case-based hands-on learning. This program replicates that approach and offers a great task-master for ongoing study of the art, for identifying areas where we have become lazy or imprecise.

Overall I consider this program and the RMHI course to be the best and most rigorous training in Chinese herbalism available today.