[RMHI Home]
[HerbalThinkTCM software] [Tutorials]
[RMHInet] [Courses/Certification] [FAQ]
[Articles] [About]
[Follow] [Contact]

— updated 2021-06-17


RMHInet — a health, wellness, and longevity
brainstorming-crowdsourcing network

by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.

For a quick overview of RMHInet features, requirements, fees, etc., and how it complements our other educational programs, see Courses/certification.   See also:
  · RMHInet is a social-media brainstorming network for individuals, students, and professionals to share ideas and information about health, wellness, and longevity and to apply the power of technology and dedicated focus groups toward solving complex health problems. Crowd-sourcing, when carefully implemented, has demonstrated that it can often provide its participants with analysis and solutions to challenging problems, faster and at much lower cost than conventional options.
  · Members have access to RMHI's extensive array of self-explanatory and easy-to-use text references, databases, interactive-learning tools, simulators, and expert-system software for traditional Chinese medicine ("TCM"). By using the expert-system software modules, AutoSage-TCM and CaseQuery, you can begin accessing detailed symptom-pattern analyses of complex health conditions after only 60 hours of training and studyHerbalists' BootCamp.

  Copyright ©2016-2019 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved. Published by the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute; c/o PO Box 579; Hot Springs, Montana [59845] USA. Education and software for health professionals:

Subtopics on this page…


DISCLAIMER:   RMHInet and its associated software support systems, including the AutoSage-TCM expert system, CaseQuery, and HerbalThink-TCM, are for general educational, research, and reference purposes only and are not intended for purposes of medical disease diagnosis, the cure or treatment of disease, or individual health or legal advice. Individuals should consult qualified health professionals in matters of personal health.

A practical/technical explanation of holism

"Which herbs, drugs, supplements, or other therapeutic interventions would be beneficial for a person with medical disease X?"
Regardless of whether one prefers conventional allopathic medicine or more natural methods, most people assume that the preceding question is a proper starting point for inquiry. The vast majority of articles, scientific journals, and social media groups devoted to health matters conform to this assumption. It is rarely questioned.

However, what if the preceding assumption is terribly flawed and the cause of much misery, unnecessary suffering, chronic disease, and out-of-control healthcare costs? Most people would demand that anyone challenging this assumption take extraordinary measures to prove their case. Consequently, this article is lengthy. I do not expect you to alter your habits of thought easily.

If I do manage to convince you that this perspective is flawed, the alternative solutions I describe below are designed to help you regain control of your health and drastically lower your healthcare costs.


Problems and solutions

Imagine that your automobile's engine begins to emit alarming grinding noises. You take it to your local mechanic, and he quickly assesses the problem: "engine noise". Solution: he recommends that you purchase a set of ear plugs. In spite of having only rudimentary knowledge of car engines, you are justifiably disgusted and drive your car to another mechanic before the engine fails and leaves you stranded.

Now imagine that you have been experiencing steady aching pain in your muscles and joints over much of your body for the past few months. You take your body to the local doctor. He diagnoses the problem as "fibromyalgia" and prescribes medication to suppress the pain. But hold on a minute, and think about this. Pain is like engine noise.

In any practical field of endeavor, whether it be engine repair, gardening, repairing a bridge, or human health, it is widely understood that to satisfactorily solve any problem first requires a thorough description of the problem:

  • What are the symptoms and signs of breakdown or malfunction?
  • What events and factors preceded the malfunction and may possibly have contributed to it?
  • What are the possible consequences if the malfunction is allowed to worsen?

A lazy person could, in a few minutes, think of a clever-sounding Latinized phrase that might impress people and convince some of them that he understands specific, medically-defined health problems — fibromyalgia, thrombocytopenia purpura, moniliasis, amoebic dysentery. But are these labels really a complete description of the problem? Do they represent a level of understanding that will lead to reliable and lasting solutions? Or do they merely lead to temporary remedies that are the equivalent of ear plugs? (See no evil, hear no evil, feel no pain...?)

You decide to go to a practitioner reputed to be more holistic, perhaps a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine ("TCM"). Perhaps he or she spends more than 10 minutes, and actually asks about details like your energy levels, aversion to temperature extremes, bowels, urine, thirst, appetite, sleep, menstrual cycles, etc., and inspects your tongue and pulse. After taking all these clues into consideration, you are given an herbal formula to try for a week. If these clues are evaluated correctly, the selected herbal formula might actually work for a while. But what about environmental, occupational, and dietary factors? If those are not considered, the selected formula may merely be the equivalent of a more effective set of ear plugs — temporary relief, followed by eventual recurrence of the problem.

By the end of this article, which is admittedly lengthy, you will understand why environmental, occupational, and dietary factors in health and illness have become the elephants in our living rooms. The consequences of ignoring these factors are so dire that many prefer not to think about them at all. However, if you are one of the growing number of people who recognize that addressing these issues is a matter of survival, of yourself and even perhaps of our civilization, we describe a solution that we hope will interest you.


Reductionism vs. holism: avoiding tunnel vision

Most people do not realize the extent to which they have been mentally and socially programmed to accept the reductionist paradigm of western bio-medicine.

  Reductionism:   a system of analysis based on the assumption that complex systems can be understood primarily by a detailed analysis of all their component parts.
  The problem:   complex systems like living beings have so many components, many of which may not even be known yet, that complete and accurate analysis becomes exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

Implicit in the question "What remedies, natural or otherwise, would be good for disease X?" is the assumption that the label "disease X" presents one with all the information one will need to select effective remedies. However, that is simply not true. Holism, a greatly misunderstood and widely abused term, means comprehension of the behavior and functioning of a system and its component parts as being intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole system, including its interactions with its environment. The very concept of remedy-for-disease-X is not holistic, but highly reductionist, regardless of whether one is using natural or synthetic remedies. Most medical disease diagnoses refer to highly localizable anatomical, biochemical, or physiological phenomenon without reference to any context in which they occur. The following explains the practical consequences of such a restricted focus:

Chinese herbalists observe that a dozen people afflicted with the same viral infection might each respond to the infection in different ways, and that different stages of the illness, based upon the manifestation of symptom patterns, require wholly different herbal formulas. What might work well for an individual with a high fever, delirium, and thirst, yet who has a vigorous constitution, might be entirely inappropriate for another individual who has a low fever, fatigue, poor appetite, and a weak constitution, even though the very same infectious organism could be responsible for triggering acute symptoms of infection in both individuals. To choose herbs and formulas based on medical diagnoses is often as naive as choosing them based on single symptoms. Just as western physicians recognize that single symptoms (e.g., headaches) might be explained by a wide range of medical diseases and tissue pathologies, Chinese herbalists understand that a specific medical disease entity (e.g., influenza, hepatitis, leukemia) may be associated with a wide range of different systemic factors that created the susceptibility to the disease, and which must be resolved for there to be either complete recovery or satisfactory management of the condition.

The following excerpt (Essentials of Expert-Systems Pattern Recognition for Traditional Chinese Medicine: User's Guide to AutoSage-TCM, by Wicke and Kruse, 2016) explains the concept of holism from a practical perspective and how it may provide crucial insights in situations where reductionist analysis fails:

    In comparing and evaluating the assessment or diagnostic protocols of Western medicine, traditional Chinese herbology, and other systems, we should acknowledge that the ultimate test of any assessment method's clinical usefulness is how effectively it describes and summarizes the problem — the patient's illness — in a manner that directly points to working solutions. A diagnosis that fails to yield practical guidelines that point to a specific set of drug, herb, formula, and/or dietary remedies, or at least a set of clear guidelines or strategies for choosing such remedies, is a diagnosis that is relatively useless except perhaps for its academic or theoretic value.
    Most medical doctors, TCM herbalists, and experienced Western herbalists alike will agree that choosing remedies based on single symptoms is sheer folly. Single symptoms, by themselves, rarely serve as reliable criteria for choosing any remedy; to attempt such is like trying to shoot a target in a darkened room wearing blindfolds. (Yet the lay public and even many healthcare practitioners frequently indulge in this error from either ignorance or impatience.)
    Conventional medical diagnoses too often suffer from the opposite extreme of tunnel vision, focusing narrowly on presumed or hypothesized causative factors within specific target organs, tissues, or biochemical subsystems. While such diagnoses may point to quick and potent remedies for those targets, such remedies often result in side effects from collateral damage, because medical diagnoses generally fail to incorporate any fundamental systemic considerations [holism] — one notable exception to this is emergency (trauma) medicine, for which the goal is to simultaneously control/normalize hemorrhaging and leakage of body fluids, blood pressure, heart rate and contractility, respiration and oxygenation levels, body temperature, hydration and fluid balance, electrolytes, blood sugar, parasympathetic vs. sympathetic activity levels, and other core systems parameters in an effort to keep the patient alive. But why wait until the patient is in extremis to apply these principles? The human body's own regulatory mechanisms certainly do not, when these are functioning properly. Though conventional medicine generally assumes that such a systemic approach is required only in extreme circumstances like those typical of emergency medicine, according to the long history and foundational principles of Chinese medicine, this assumption is deeply flawed and is the most common reason for occurrences of side effects and failure to restore an individual to a state of health.

As the preceding explanation reveals, emergency medicine physicians may sometimes have a more holistic perspective of the diagnostic process than many western herbalists or other alternative healthcare providers who have not had rigorous training in holistic systems-evaluation methods like those used in traditional Chinese herbology. Emergency medicine, of all the medical specialties, can rightly lay claim to the best track record of performance in improving human health and rescuing people from what would otherwise be dire and long-lasting consequences of trauma and disease; it is my opinion that the reason for this success is directly related to its focus on whole-body systems analysis and intervention.

Alternative and complementary modes of healthcare have become quite popular with the public, but when these professions are examined more closely (acupuncture, TCM, naturopathy, massage therapy, chiropractic, herbalism), one will almost inevitably find the reductionist paradigm of western biomedicine at their core. Many may claim to observe the holistic, systems-oriented principles that their historical forebears espoused, but they reveal their true working philosophy whenever they frame healthcare options as remedies-for-disease-X.

I have concluded after many decades of teaching Chinese herbology that the reductionist paradigm of modern medicine and science has penetrated so deeply into our culture that it has become a pervasive form of subconcious mind control. I have frequently observed successful graduates of our Chinese herbology curriculum, which requires rigorous understanding of the holistic concepts, definitions, and theories of TCM, revert to asking me questions like "What herbal formula should I use for a client with disease X?" After asking them whether they would like to first rephrase the question — I refuse to answer it in its original form — they usually quickly correct themselves as follows:

"I have a client medically diagnosed with disease X; his TCM pattern assessment is Deficiency of Kidney-Spleen Yang with a moderate degree of chronic Blood Stagnation; what herbal formula should I use?"

That is an example of a more holistic, systems-descriptive assessment, which provides enough general detail that one can at least begin intelligently discussing possibilities and options. Regardless of whether one is seeking to overcome an illness or to improve health and longevity, we are each unique in our responses to foods, herbs, and environmental conditions. TCM syndrome-pattern analysis can provide important guidelines for optimizing individual diets, choosing which herbs and supplements to take, and tailoring exercise and lifestyle habits to match individual needs.


Why is symptom-pattern analysis such a useful indicator of underlying health imbalances?

Individual symptoms, each by themselves, are relatively ambigious. Attempting to choose remedies based on individual symptoms is like trying to hit a target in a darkened room wearing blindfolds. However, people commonly experience symptoms of illness well before blood tests or other diagnostic tests reveal abnormalities. Why is this?

During my graduate studies of sensory physiology, the intricate and sensitive mechanisms of human sensory organs made a lasting impression on me. To this day, electronics engineers struggle to create artificial devices that can match or exceed the sensitivity of biological sensory cells and organs. Why not harness this data from human sense perception directly as a diagnostic tool? After all, doctors and healthcare practitioners have been doing that for thousands of years. During the 20th century, however, many of them became excessively reliant on lab tests and gradually lost their clinical skills in observing patients, using their intuition, and evaluating symptom patterns.

If symptoms appear well before any medical test reveal signs of disease, then it would seem that symptoms could potentially provide an invaluable early-warning signal of future health problems. The difficulty lies in exactly how to interpret the total pattern of symptoms that a given patient may present. While each individual symptom may have a wide range of possible causes and explanations, in combination, they begin to yield more information. Just as a single clue in a crime scene may have many dozens of possible explanations for how it came to be, put many clues together, create a hypothesis, ask whether additional findings are consistent with the hypothesis, and you may be on your way to solving the crime. Symptom-pattern assessment in Chinese medicine is exactly analogous to the job of a private investigator. Various symptom clusters suggest the possibility of certain patterns; pulse and tongue data plus additional questioning about other symptoms can help to either confirm or exclude these possibilities. (The analogy to criminal forensics is quite apt: environmental pollution and toxicity, adulteration of commercial food products with toxic ingredients, and medical research fraud require the diligent healthcare practitioner to function much as a private detective — we are literally witnessing mass crimes against humanity that have resulted in early death or debility for hundreds of millions of people, and to effectively overcome these problems often requires tenacious sleuthing.)


Why have even many so-called alternative modes of healthcare (including "TCM") fallen into the same abusive patterns and practices of mainstream medicine?

Even many of the so-called alternative and complementary modes of healthcare have succumbed to the western biomedical paradigm, because regulation, licensing, and school accreditation have created strong incentives for the western medical paradigm to become dominant within the educational curricula. For example, at many TCM colleges, the proportion of courses devoted to traditional symptom-sign pattern analysis and herbal formulation has steadily declined, substituted with increased course requirements in biomedicine and various sub-specialties such as gastroenterology, pediatrics, gynecology, etc. The theory and practice of holistic assessment is frequently taught poorly by instructors who do not even understand, respect, nor communicate its ideas well to students.•[a3]• (This is the reason that many people are surprised to discover that most practitioners claiming to be TCM herbalists either do not follow traditional tongue and pulse assessment protocols or do them haphazardly and crudely; potentially, the pulse and tongue quickly and inexpensively reveal crucial information that greatly increases the reliability and accuracy of a whole-body-systems pattern assessment.) Graduates of such programs, who rarely develop the capacity for accurate holistic thought and analysis, inevitably follow the remedy-for-disease-X paradigm. It should be clear that holism and remedy-for-disease-X are mutually incompatible concepts.

    The relentless deterioration of traditional Chinese medicine during the 20th century is no accident. This decline accelerated following the Communist Revolution in China. Mao Ze Dong, the leader of post-revolutionary China, was strongly influenced by people committed to the western model of healthcare — "Rockefeller medicine". Committees of such individuals were appointed by Mao to gradually infiltrate and replace the principles of traditional Chinese medicine with entirely western scientific notions. Thus what remains today, popularly known as "TCM", is generally a hollow imitation of its former incarnation as the primary mode of healthcare for thousands of years in China.
    Scholar and practitioner Heiner Fruehauf explains some of the historical and political intrigues behind this degeneration. •[a2]•   During the decade following the Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949, Mao Ze Dong, who had been heavily influenced by western medical advisors, intended to modernize the nation's healthcare system. He instituted what is now known as the "Barefoot Doctors" campaign to educate peasants from the countryside in basic medical care and sanitation, incorporating effective aspects of traditional medicine that were already established within the Chinese culture — on the face of it, all laudable goals. Unfortunately, he had only a shallow understanding of traditional medicine himself, plus a belief that any effective traditional methods could and should be explained by scientifically established principles or else immediately discarded as superstition. Much of traditional Chinese medicine was recklessly discarded and the remainder dumbed-down to such a simplistic level (by conventional MDs who had themselves only received a superficial training in its basics) that its potential effectiveness was frequently lost. Moreover, over the next several decades, scholars of traditional medicine were periodically persecuted, herded into "re-education" (concentration) camps, and many even murdered. Many traditional practitioners and scholars escaped the country — as did my own teachers, to my good fortune. Consequently, Chinese medicine became a worldwide phenomenon through the migration of some of its best practitioners to other countries. However, the teaching of Chinese medicine, even today, frequently has been diluted by the dumbed-down, heavily westernized version officially promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.
    An increasing number of scholars and practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine are currently rebelling against the dumbed-down "TCM", distinguishing their attempt at its preservation and restoration as "classical Chinese medicine". Advocates of this movement are found in Taiwan, Southeast Asia, North America, and Europe, as well as in mainland China, though in the latter many of these individuals prefer to maintain a low profile so as not to anger the official TCM hierarchies who control the educational and regulatory institutions. •[a3]•

The factory assembly-line mode of healthcare will become obsolete

Even assuming that a practitioner is skilled at a holistic paradigm (e.g., traditional Chinese herbology), there remains yet another obstacle to solving the complex, multi-factorial illnesses that now afflict many people: the assembly-line model of healthcare in which a licensed and certified practitioner, following years of expensive education, attempts to pay back his/her often massive student loans by means of a successful practice. A financially viable practice will efficiently process a minimum number of clients through the office each day, first offering standard remedies that have previously worked for the specific combination of disease-X and pattern-assessment-Y. When such traditional or statistically verified standard remedies fail, the amount of time and frustration can quickly escalate, resulting in a referral to some other practitioner, holistic or not, who might be able to provide a solution that can be offered within the time constraints imposed by economics. Unfortunately for the growing number of people with complex, multi-factorial illnesses that have been caused, triggered, and/or aggravated by multiple toxic environmental, chemical, and dietary factors, what their situations really require is a sustained and systematic program of education and mental-social-spiritual deprogramming, so that they can begin eliminating the toxic factors that have made them ill. To be successful and cost-effective, this process must be largely self-directed.


My own awakening

    Immediately after graduating with a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1980), on traveling to my first research job, I stopped to visit old friends and family, several of whom were eager to question me regarding specific health problems. My graduate training had focused on mathematical modeling of the nervous system using techniques pulled from various engineering disciplines, and I was flummoxed on hearing my aunt's first innocent question: "What can I do for my migraine headaches?" I regretfully replied that my studies involved predominantly theoretical issues rather than practical medical concerns — I hadn't the first clue about answering her question.
    That was when I first began to entertain the idea of private, independent study of practical healthcare, for after graduation I myself had begun to experience deteriorating health for which medical options had only provided temporary suppressive relief. My mother, a long-time devotee of natural health methods, encouraged me in this pursuit.
    During the mid-1980's, after several years of study with ethnic Chinese herbalists in the San Francisco Bay area, I had become a fresh graduate from a clinical program in traditional Chinese herbology.

Why are many simple, time-tested remedies no longer working?

Over the 30+ years that I've practiced Chinese herbal healthcare, as each decade has passed, it seems that many illnesses have become more difficult to resolve, less likely to respond well to protocols that worked well in the 1980's, and more likely to recur without continual and careful monitoring. Worldwide, we are seeing rates of chronic illnesses and diseases of aging skyrocket: Alzheimer's, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. A whole range of formerly rare autoimmune diseases have proliferated: lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease are only some of the more common among a lengthy list. Moreover, there are many more illnesses much of the medical community is resistant to or refusing to acknowledge: Lymes, Morgellons, EMF-sensitivity syndrome, vaccine-induced illnesses.

The common thread shared by many of these illnesses is that people worldwide have been exposed to a massive onslaught of toxic chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs, ionizing and microwave radiation, deteriorating food supply resulting in simultaneous nutrient deficiencies and chemical toxicity, abusive medical practices, and both covert and overt forms of biological, chemical, and radiological warfare, all of which have been facilitated by a global infiltration and takeover of governments by international corporate cartels. Regulations that may have formerly served to protect public health and safety have long since been sabotaged by an agenda to increase corporate profits and power regardless of the human and environmental consequences. Mainstream media, academia, law and the judicial system, government, and even religions have been hijacked by mercenary forces in service to corporate power and global dominance. As millions of Americans are recently discovering, many status-quo "authority figures" routinely lie and commit fraud to defend a system that is collapsing as its corruptions and incompetence are publicly exposed.

For some people, to acknowledge the enormity of this betrayal would trigger a nerve-shattering state of cognitive dissonance, so they have chosen to ignore it, pretending that life goes on as normal. Propaganda, deceptive advertising, mass mind control, and dumbed-down public education have, until now, kept the vast majority mentally benumbed and ignorant. Dutifully consulting their doctors for a quick remedy to temporarily chase away their pains or to suppress their anxieties, many inevitably succumb to debilitating chronic illnesses.

The simpler health problems that I typically saw during the 1980's, which responded well to standard traditional Chinese herbal protocols, have been gradually replaced by complicated illnesses rooted in multiple factors of chemical and environmental toxicity. Consequently, I have found that clients who demand a quick remedy without wanting to know more about the factors underlying their illness are the least likely to experience lasting relief. I began to shift my style of practice to include significantly more education, both individually and in group classes, to explain how many of the accepted products and practices of modern industry were making many of us ill and to provide alternative options. Many of these alternatives were traditional practices of growing and preparing food; personal hygiene and sanitation; making homemade cosmetics, toothpaste, and soaps; physical activity and exercises; natural and non-toxic construction materials for homes, furniture, and clothing; and healthy forms of art, dance, and music — customs that prevailed as our dominant cultural heritage before corporate mass marketing convinced us to jettison these time-tested methods for something "new and different".

Following the rapid expansion of the Internet around the turn of the century, an increasing number of my clients came to me already armed with information and ideas they had gleaned from websites, some of them written by people with illnesses similar to their own and who reported what had worked and not worked in their own situations. They were already more knowledgeable in some aspects of their illnesses than I and were seeking my advice more as a fellow colleague than as an authority who could provide a quick fix. The unique perspective that I often provided was to reveal how the methods of traditional Chinese medicine, which are rooted in observing changes in symptoms and easily observed clinical signs like tongue and pulse, could help these individuals select protocols optimized for their unique metabolic profile, body type, and other systemic characteristics. The traditional Chinese method of syndrome-pattern analysis provides a systematic means for evaluating a specific protocol's overall effectiveness and potential side effects.


Creative ways that many people are now circumventing the current dysfunctional system

Since the year 2000, I have noticed that of all my clients, those who achieved the best results have taken maximal advantage of the Internet, searching for relevant articles, subscribing to discussion groups for people with their category of illness, and asking for online advice. By the time they seek out my help, they are already aware of many options and are most likely at the fine-tuning stage where they need help in applying specific protocols.

The systematic poisoning of the population can be overcome by each of us as individuals. Mental-social-spiritual deprogramming can most effectively and inexpensively be achieved by taking advantage of the huge amount of free and low-cost information now available via the Internet. Numerous mutual self-help groups have arisen taking advantage of the ease with which people can instantly network and communicate with each other.

To be effective at using the Internet for self-education in health matters (or, for that matter, any other topic) requires applying a few common-sense principles:

  1. Searching, networking. Learn how to search the Internet and to network with information sources relevant to your needs. There are simple tricks that can help target your searching and networking activities to yield relevant results. Have a computer-savvy friend show you these tricks, as well as practical things like how to enhance your Internet privacy and security.
  2. Evaluating credibility, filtering misinformation. There are vast amounts of information, misinformation, and disinformation on the Internet, but that phenomenon is not unique to the Internet. Textbooks, encyclopedias, journals (including scientific journals), TV news, and newspapers have always been afflicted by the biases of their publishers, editors, advertisers, and financial backers. Following are articles we have previously published that will help you evaluate credibility. Merely because something has been endorsed by a government agency or university does not make it credible — if you have not yet recognized that, here are some articles and ideas to get you up to speed: As never before in history, the Internet has empowered individuals to unveil the truth if they have the patience and determination to do so. Consequently, government propaganda, fradulently promoted scientific and medical theories, and corporate crimes are being exposed at breathtaking speed worldwide.
  3. Know when, who, and how to ask for personal advice, either in professional consultations or from Internet support groups. For example, to participate in many of RMHI's groups, members must demonstrate that they have already done their homework and have framed their questions properly (e.g., simplistic remedy-for-disease-X types of questions are generally discouraged), which will allow for meaningful answers.

Our solution: RMHInet

RMHInet is a brainstorming-crowdsourcing network for individuals, students, and professionals to share ideas and information about health and to apply the power of dedicated focus groups toward solving complex health problems. Crowd-sourcing, when carefully implemented, has demonstrated that it can often provide its participants with analysis and solutions to challenging problems, faster and at much lower cost than conventional options. RMHInet combines

  • The wisdom and methods of traditional Chinese medicine ("TCM"), adapted to the special problems of our industrial era — environmental pollution and toxicity, abusive medical practices, unhealthy lifestyles, diets, consumer products, etc.
  • Expert-systems technology — CaseQuery, AutoSage-TCM
  • Interactive simulator, game, and database software; self-explanatory text references — HerbalThink-TCM

with the unique insights that persistent, committed individuals can contribute toward helping each other overcome challenging health problems by applying personal experience, reason, logic, and intuition. RMHInet integrates these elements into a format that is accessible to anyone who is motivated to reclaim control of their life and health. Participation at the Beginner level requires only 60 hours of your time in introductory study and tutorials, all of which are presented in easy-to-understand and clearly worded explanations.

The remainder of this article will explain why RMHInet was developed and how it can solve three serious problems afflicting the current healthcare system, which is dominated by international pharmaceutical cartels and the medical-industrial complex:

  • Out-of-control expenses to consumers
  • Prevalence of quick-fix solutions that suppress symptoms while jeopardizing long-term health
  • Inability to address complex health issues that fall outside the range of current medical dogma and standards of practice imposed by law and economics

Our goal is to make accessible, in a self-explanatory and easily accessed format, knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine at a professional level to anyone with an interest in improving their health and in sharing this knowledge with others. We can show you how to discover solutions to complex health problems quickly and inexpensively and yet simultaneously target potential solutions with greater accuracy and thoroughness than conventional options. All that is required your willingness and ability to carefully follow instructions and to learn how to compile an accurate symptom history.


The key component of RMHInet: AutoSage-TCM, expert-system software for automated pattern analysis


The key component of RMHInet is AutoSage-TCM, which is expert-system software that performs automated pattern analysis of the clinical syndromes constituting traditional Chinese medical (TCM) pathophysiology theory, including quantitative assessment of complex cases characterized by multiple simultaneous syndrome-patterns. This software has been developed at the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute (RMHI) for use by individuals, students, healthcare practitioners, and clinical researchers.

If one does an Internet search for "Chinese medicine expert system", "TCM expert system", or "TCM artificial intelligence software" one will find hundreds of references to academic research articles, the vast majority published by Chinese researchers and universities, but very few working systems available for practical use by individuals and practitioners. Academic reviews of attempts at such expert systems generally have generally concluded that the results either were disappointing or were limited in application to a narrow range of clinical diseases.

Privately, I have speculated that the reason for this profusion of academic interest in TCM expert systems is that among pharmaceutical companies worldwide, it has long been understood that nature has always been the best source for new drug ideas, and these corporations have been scheming at better ways to data-mine nature's vast resources, including Chinese herbs. The standard game plan is to isolate an active biochemical constituent that has predictable effects by itself and then modify it chemically so that it can be patented (natural substances cannot be patented), with the hope that the modified product will be similarly effective and not unduly toxic. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry maintains a steady barrage of propaganda that herbs are primitive, either ineffective or dangerous, and that only their "scientifically proven" drugs are safe and effective, when numerous clinical research studies and officially maintained statistics reveal the exact opposite to be true. •[a1]•

The results of any corporate-sponsored TCM expert-systems research would likely be kept a closely guarded trade secret. The reported results officially published in academic journals have typically been peppered with obscure jargon, murky logic, and a general impression that the field is fraught with confusion and uncertainty. I strongly suspect that the intended purpose of such articles is to convince the casual reader that expert systems for TCM are boring academic curiosities that are nowhere near practical implementation for practitioners or the general public. However, expert-systems applications seem to be rapidly evolving to produce successful practical applications in robotics, automated piloting of drone aircraft and other vehicles, Internet search, marketing, finance, engineering, factory automation, mining exploration, human written and spoken language understanding and translation, virtual-reality simulations, and many other areas. (The vast majority of expert systems, sometimes referred to as "artificial intelligence" are, in reality, highly sophisticated software algorithms that calculate patterns and probabilities and then make decisions based on these pre-programmed algorithms; they do not really possess true intelligence, which is the ability of a living being to evaluate new and unexpected situations and to adapt one's behavior to these new circumstances.)

For the past 25 years, I have worked with a small group of people at RMHI to develop the AutoSage-TCM expert system for TCM syndrome-pattern analysis. I have been a practitioner for over 30 years and am committed to making the logic and mathematics of Chinese medicine accessible to as many people as possible — not just to practitioners but to anyone with access to a computer and a healthy dose of common sense.

AutoSage-TCM was completed in January 2016 and tested thoroughly for over a year. It is now being used successfully by RMHI students, graduates, and associates. I have personally used it to evaluate numerous difficult cases that had challenged the limits of my skills, including several nagging challenges with my own health. The results, almost without exception, establish that AutoSage-TCM is capable of producing a more accurate and detailed pattern analysis than I could possibly hope to do by hand. I think of it as my electronic TCM pattern calculator.

Many of you reading this, especially TCM practitioners, may rightly be skeptical. Past attempts at TCM expert systems available to the public have been disappointing and crude. That's why we are making our system accessible on a low-cost trial basis to applicants who agree to complete a series of simple tutorials, which can be completed online. We do this for the following reason:

"Garbage in, garbage out" is a phrase well known among software systems analysts. Regardless how sophisticated one's system, the quality of results will always be limited by the quality of data fed into it — that means thorough clinical case histories: a detailed history of symptoms, what aggravates or relieves them, how severe, chronic or acute, complete descriptions of tongue tissue and coating, plus pulse qualities in each of 3 positions at both left and right radial arteries.

Our goal is to make this system available to anyone willing to spend the time to use it correctly. We have developed instructional materials and user guides that explain in plain language what we are doing and why. For those interested in using this for advanced clinical research, we explain the algorithms used in the system in crystal-clear detail. Those who are interested primarily in applying this to personal and family health matters are also welcome and encouraged to give it a try. You can ignore all the technical details; the essence of the method can be learned in 60 hours.


A brief history of why and how we developed AutoSage-TCM and RMHInet

The American healthcare system is currently the most expensive in the world, as measured by total costs per person in insurance premiums, healthcare benefit taxes, government subsidies, and direct expenses. And what do we have to show for all this? Quality of life by all measures of health and wellness falls near the bottom of the industrialized nations — a population growing steadily sicker by the year from toxic pharmaceutical drugs, a medical system concerned more with churning over profits and filling out reams of corporate and government-mandated paperwork, mass-produced food laden with toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and GMO ingredients that have been banned in many other countries, imported consumer goods saturated with toxic chemicals, vaccines adulterated with dozens of toxic chemicals and biological contaminants manufactured in China with very little quality control, and brain-damaging microwave radiation from cell phones and wifi. I could go on and on. But if you have been paying attention, and many of my readers have, you know all this already.

What is perhaps not as well known even among the awakened is the steady deterioration that has occurred in almost all the so-called alternative health professions, due to the disintegration of our public education system. Over the past several decades, I have been intimately involved in developing textbooks and educational software to supplement our courses in Chinese herbology and environmental health. We have designed much of this software to overcome deficiencies in the public school system, such as the lack of emphasis on logic, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills. Formal higher education is irrelevant as a predictor of how well a potential student will do in our courses — as many major corporations, like Google, have already determined with regard to their own recruitment of employees. •[a4]•   We have had students with a wide range of prior educational attainments and life experiences successfully complete our courses, including bright high-school dropouts and homeschooled individuals, gardeners and organic farmers, college graduates, health professionals of all types, and retirees.

There is nothing inherently special about Chinese herbs. Useful herbs and medicines can be found in nature worldwide. What is unique about Chinese herbal medicine is its system of logic and clinical strategy that can greatly reduce the guesswork involved in choosing remedies (herbs, diet and nutrition, exercise, massage, and even pharmaceuticals). Its core principle can be summarized as follows:

The total pattern of symptoms plus tongue appearance and qualities palpated in the radial pulse, when evaluated correctly, will lead directly to a concise summary of the general, systemic state of one's health. This summary, or symptom-sign pattern evaluation, directly points to specific clinical strategies and types of remedies that are appropriate and others that are inappropriate (contraindicated).

As I explained at the beginning of this article, the simplistic method of choosing herbs reputed to be "good for medical disease X" is haphazard, frequently does not work, and may lead to side effects. If the symptom-sign pattern evaluation is incorrect, a huge amount of time and expense may be wasted in trying ineffective remedies. In the worst case, side effects may result from using herbs that are actually contraindicated for one's condition. Accurate evaluation of patterns in traditional Chinese medicine turns out to be a challenging task that scholars and practitioners throughout its long history have recognized as a skill that few master. Due to the difficulty of teaching this skill, many TCM colleges distract students with memorization of vast amounts of data about herbs and formulas and sayings from classical texts, which results in what I call the idiot-savant phenomenon of TCM — a mere illusion of wisdom that has disastrous practical consequences.

During the mid-1990's my long-time research associate, Curt Kruse, and I began to develop expert-system software that would perform the types of accurate evaluations that are essential to the correct application of Chinese herbs, according to time-tested principles and methods that have evolved over several thousand years. We did this partly out of an awareness that such a system would eventually be required to compensate for the relentless general decline of public education and students' cognitive abilities. It required several decades to develop the extensive databases and algorithms necessary to implement this expert system; it has now been debugged and tested for over a year, and we have already trained a number of local people in its use. (In spring of 2017, we submitted AutoSage-TCM as an entry to the international Herbal Medicine Awareness Competition sponsored by the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. This summer, we were surprised and pleased to learn that we had been awarded Honorable Mention — 5th place — in the competition.)

I have long been a techno-skeptic in spite of having a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and am dismayed at how carelessly many people embrace new technology without discerning its potential risks and threats to their privacy, health, or sanity. My academic background has given me the tools to understand the physiological basis for the real hazards that many of these technologies pose. However, regarding expert-systems technology ("AI"), I believe that we, the human species, face a stark choice in the near future: either we consciously choose to co-evolve with and to control this new technology to respect our rights and needs, or it will overtake us.

AutoSage-TCM, the expert system that we have created to perform the complex pattern analyses necessary to correctly use Chinese herbs and formulas, provides a very general method that can be used to analyze the systemic effects of not only Chinese herbs, but of any herb, food, nutritional supplement, health technology, and other factors that impact human health. It's a potential game-changer. No longer are years of expensive education required to learn how to perform complex evaluations of symptom-sign patterns, which has been historically recognized even by the ancient Chinese as an art that few people master, analogous to the difficulties of becoming a chess champion. However, chess was one of the first games to be conquered by AI software.

It was only after Curt and I had made several false starts in the early versions of our expert system (the early 1990's) that I began to truly appreciate the complexities of Chinese herbal medicine. It is a sophisticated system of logic, and its successful translation into software algorithms eventually required us to incorporate multiple expert-systems methodologies, including ideas from neural nets, fuzzy logic, Bayesian inference algorithms, vector-space modeling, and archetypal pattern matching.

The end result is that, since 2017, we have taught "Herbalists' BootCamp", a series of online tutorials that prepares participants to use this expert-system software to analyze and solve real clinical problems. AutoSage-TCM is dependent on real people feeding it accurate and complete information — that means thorough clinical case histories: a detailed history of symptoms, what aggravates or relieves them, how severe, chronic or acute, complete descriptions of tongue tissue and coating, plus pulse qualities in each of 3 positions at both left and right radial arteries. Many modern health problems also require a thorough investigation of an individual's diet history plus chemical and environmental toxicity exposures. This is all relatively straightforward to do, but it does require patience, persistence, and following a few simple guidelines so that you elicit an unbiased and thorough report from your client. I have routinely spent 3 hours in completing a typical client health history, and that is probably the time you will require to do so as well. In our version of Herbalists' BootCamp, we train people in 60 hours to take a thorough clinical case history, including tongue and pulse data, and then to input this information into the CaseQuery software application. CaseQuery will automatically generate a specially formatted, encoded text file that can be interpreted and evaluated by the AutoSage-TCM expert system.

Only a small minority of Chinese herbalists record thorough clinical case histories plus traditional tongue and pulse data, even though the importance of these methods are reiterated by eminent physicians throughout the history of traditional Chinese medicine. It seems the art of taking a case history has been lost, not only by most western MD's, but even by many alternative healthcare practitioners, who have attempted to mimic the assembly-line model of the allopathic medical system in which patients are shuffled through the appointment schedule in lock-step in order to maximize income. However, an increasing number of holistic physicians are recognizing that detailed understanding of a patient's symptoms and what aggravates or relieves them is essential to the medical detective work required to accurately assess environmental and dietary toxicity and to restore the patient to health.


RMHInet and its component modules

We at RMHI have created technological educational and reference tools of which the Barefoot Doctors of 1950's China never dreamed:

  • computerized reference databases — modules within HerbalThink-TCM
  • expert-systems software — CaseQuery and AutoSage-TCM
  • interactive games — Herbal Tutor
  • video simulation software — Pulse Simulator
View screen shots of all the preceding modules.

Instead of dumbing-down the subject of Chinese medicine, we make expert-level knowledge available to anyone willing to spend a bit of time learning how to use all the preceding components of RMHInet.

In contrast to the Chinese Communists of the 1950's, my own philosophy is closer to that of the libertarian, natural-rights advocates — Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and Ron Paul are a few whom I consider to be exemplary role models. I abhor top-down bureaucracies, with their penchant for attracting sociopaths to their power hierarchies like flies to a dung heap. RMHInet embodies the spirit of the libertarian, natural-rights movement: acknowledging the autonomy and natural rights of each individual, as long as one's actions do not violate those same rights of others. Each member is respected as an independent, self-determined being. We each have different challenges, strengths, and limitations, and no one else should dictate what we believe, what we should eat, how we should educate our children, and what we should allow to be injected into our bodies. The multiplicity of ideas among members is what makes crowd-sourcing networks so effective, and we make an effort to recruit members from a broad range of backgrounds and life experiences.

Our counterpart to the Barefoot Doctors movement is RMHInet, a libertarian-techno-networking alternative to the disastrous, over-priced, disease-care system that is currently the status-quo system in America.

Crowd-sourced brainstorming networks have become increasingly popular as effective ways to solve complex and difficult problems. •[b1, b2]• Crowd-sourced medical diagnosis has been the subject of recent research studies. Within days or weeks, crowd-sourcing can sometimes solve mysterious problems that have formerly frustrated sufferers with tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical tests, consultations, and ineffective therapeutic interventions. The keys to creating an effective brainstorming network are to

  • Recruit members from a broad range of backgrounds and talents, from lay people interested in improving their own health to professionals.
  • Create membership requirements that include minimum criteria for ability, skills, and commitment.
  • Provide members with appropriate technology and tools for accessing, organizing, and communicating relevant information.
  • Periodically update members with recommended reading lists of Internet articles on environmental, technological, and social trends that impact our health (Warning: we frequently include what the mainstream media has cynically labelled "fake news".)

Research studies have demonstrated that the most successful crowd-sourcing networks have ways of ranking their members according to their historical track-record of accuracy so as to increase their influence within the group by means of common-sense criteria. At RMHI, the Herbal Tutor interactive-learning software, a component module of HerbalThink-TCM, has provided us with a standard that we have successfully used since the year 2000 to determine whether students have achieved a level of accuracy and precision that enables them to progress to our Supervised Clinical Internship course where they will be working with clients to help them to overcome various health problems. We have over 17 years of student performance statistics to prove that graduates of the RMHI Level-1 course are typically capable of analyzing complex clinical cases involving multiple simultaneous syndrome-patterns and exposure to environmental toxins, dietary imbalances, and other negative factors — a skill that many TCM herbalists never acquire even after many decades of practice.

Each RMHInet member wins an award/points for each educational milestone successfully completed, representing a specific practical skill that will be useful to oneself and to others in the network:


Principles that we request our members keep in mind:

  • Useful contributions and advice may emerge from all levels of membership; be aware of your own strengths and limitations.
  • Philosophers and commentators on the human condition have long observed that our greatest mistakes are due not to lack of knowledge but to those ideas we insistently believe to be true though, in fact, are not.
    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." — Mark Twain

Chess icons and the rules of movement that they represent are appropriately symbolic of the RMHInet philosophy:

  • At the very beginning of a chess game, the relative value of each piece follows an established hierarchy. Certain pieces are more valuable because of their allowed ranges of movement. Pawns, with the most limited form of movement, are widely understood to be the least valuable. In matters of health, one who has no training, no knowledge, and no access to print and/or electronic references will likewise be severely constrained, and that individual would be wise to listen to people with more experience (e.g., this includes those who are wise in the ways of traditional culture) and to adjust their own actions to conform to the actions and opinions of those people.
  • As the game progresses, as more pieces fall victim to capture or immobilization, the relative value and power of individual pieces may suddenly change. Even a formerly lowly pawn may find itself in a position to threaten the power of the nobility. However, the pawn must have carefully positioned itself to do so.
  • Toward the end of the game, the relative value of each piece becomes steadily less dependent on its formal status and more dependent upon the unique strategic context of the end-game. Even a lowly pawn may, in a single move, place a king in check or become a queen, rook, bishop, or knight, if it has survived and positioned itself appropriately. This is where we are at now in history: the end-game. All the ordinary rules have been turned upside-down. Former "authority figures" are revealed to be fraudsters, criminals, and even mass murderers. Government regulatory agencies protect these criminals and the corporations who benefit from their crimes. The justice system has become a protection racket for "just us", the elite who "pay to play". Licenses, certifications, and degrees from corrupt institutions are nothing but the sound and fury of a dying system. A few strategically placed pawns or knights may be capable of toppling such a corrupt modern nobility.

The software support tools

RMHInet is supported by an extensive array of software-based reference texts and databases, interactive games, video simulators, and expert-system modules that are largely self-explanatory and easy to use:

  • CaseQuery: a simple case-history interface for creating standardized data files of symptoms and signs that users may submit to AutoSage-TCM for processing. CaseQuery includes several features that provide users with immediate reminders and feedback for improving the accuracy and completeness of each report's symptom, tongue, and pulse descriptions.   screen shots
  • AutoSage-TCM: provides detailed expert-system analyses of symptom/sign patterns, making thorough assessments available to even beginning users. AutoSage-TCM solves a problem that throughout traditional Chinese medicine's long history has been recognized as one of its greatest challenges: accurate analysis of an individual's symptom-sign patterns. Each analysis report also serves as a teaching tool: the self-explanatory, cross-referenced report allows users to examine any particular aspect of interest:
    • Overall summary of the dominant patterns with estimates of their magnitudes, ranks, and probabilities.
    • Detailed breakdown of each syndrome, allowing users to examine the reasoning behind each conclusion, how each symptom or sign contributed to that conclusion, and which alternative explanations for a specific symptom subset were also considered.
    • Numerical measures of overall case complexity and their implications for the possible presence of chemical and heavy-metal toxicity, EMF exposure, and other environmental health hazards.
    [More information about AutoSage-TCM…]
    screen shots
  • HerbalThink-TCM includes the following modules:
    • Self-Study Reference: self-explanatory theory and information about Chinese herbology and health, allowing users to progress as far as their interests take them.   screen shots
    • Herbal Tutor: for users who want to learn symptom-pattern analysis, these interactive games provide a proven, effective way to learn and, with persistence, eventually to exceed the capabilities of the AutoSage-TCM expert system.   screen shots
    • Pulse Simulator: a quick, thorough, and systematic way to learn pulse palpation technique using video simulations of pulses in 3 dimensions and time — results in greater accuracy and consistency that most traditional styles of learning pulses. Pulse Simulator solves a problem that has long been recognized as a major challenge in learning traditional Chinese medicine: mastering the art of pulse palpation. Instead of requiring many years of study and practice, the video simulations, with their standardized terminology and systematic breakdown of each pulse into 12 independent physical parameters (rate, rhythm, strength, depth, width, etc.), show users how to achieve accurate and complete pulse descriptions within a few days of practice.   screen shots
    [More information about HerbalThink-TCM…]

RMHInet makes the introductory levels of all these tools available to even beginning users and combines these with the ability to network with other users to share ideas, clinical case analyses, and suggestions. Beginners are introduced to the RMHInet system with a personal tutorial, provided by a combination of emails, phone consultations, and/or in-person instruction (if a local authorized Group Leader is available in your area).

AutoSage-TCM — the key to making expert-level analyses accessible to even beginning users

AutoSage-TCM is the most recent addition to RMHI's suite of educational software for Chinese herbology and is the key component that allows us to offer sophisticated clinical analyses to beginners as well as to experienced practitioners. An estimated 60 hours of study will prepare you to create accurate case histories using the CaseQuery software and to interpret the corresponding AutoSage-TCM analysis reports.

Consider the following arithmetic problem:
        1,056,200 x 356  =  ?
If you are good at arithmetic and at estimating numerical results, a few seconds of thought will yield an estimated result of about 380,000,000. To multiply the numbers by hand would take longer, but an electronic calculator or computer can quickly provide the exact answer:

Over the previous 25 years, researchers and developers at RMHI have systematically worked out the mathematics of pattern-recognition rules that constitute the foundation of traditional Chinese herbology. These rules explain how patterns of common symptoms and clinical signs like pulse and tongue can reveal the nature of an individual's overall state of health with considerable insight and accuracy — if these patterns are evaluated correctly.

The mathematics of the rules for Chinese medicine are vastly more complicated than simple arithmetic. Correct evaluation of patterns from the symptoms, tongue, and pulse turns out to be a quite challenging task for most people, which is why traditional Chinese medicine has acquired a reputation over its long history of requiring much study, practice, and experience to master. Many have compared the complexity of its workings to that of a chess game; master chess players typically take many decades to acquire that status. However, the ability to play chess at a high level was one of the very first tasks to be solved by expert-system software, because the rules are straightforward. However, after the opening moves, the possible sequences quickly becomes immense, almost begging for some type of specialized electronic calculator that can evaluate the thousands of possible sequence variations and recommend only the most strategically advantageous moves.

AutoSage-TCM systematically and exhaustively evaluates the probabilities that each of the client's symptoms is associated with a specific TCM syndrome-pattern, and all these incremental probabilities considered together are evaluated to determine which syndromes are dominant, plus estimates of each syndrome's magnitude, rank, and probability. Each clinical case evaluation requires literally millions of complex calculations. Such a system would have been prohibitively time-consuming before the introduction of ultra-high-speed desktop computers within the past few years.

CaseQuery — a utility for creating clinical case reports that improves your skills in taking health histories

Now, with the addition of the AutoSage-TCM expert system to RMHI's system of software tools, if one can learn to take a detailed health history plus accurate tongue and pulse description and enter this data into the CaseQuery software, even beginning users can obtain detailed, accurate pattern-assessment reports from the AutoSage-TCM expert-system software. All that is necessary is a willingness to carefully follow instructions and to learn how to take a thorough case history, including tongue and pulse data, which we estimate to require about 60 hours of instruction and study. CaseQuery will even remind you to add missing required or high-priority information that you might otherwise have omitted, thus helping to improve your case-history-taking skills.

Pulse Simulator — learn pulse palpation faster, easier, and more accurately

Only a few pulse qualities require extensive practice and experience, but most aspects of the pulse — like rate, rhythm, pulse duration, depth, strength, elasticity, width, and edge quality — can be learned in a short period of time. Correctly interpreted, these pulse parameters yield important information about the state of one's health. Inconsistent and confused application of terminology has been the primary obstacle to many students learning pulses well. A key reason that we can teach traditional pulse palpation technique in a fraction of the time that traditionalists insist is required is another software innovation created by RMHI: Pulse Simulator is video simulation software that graphically displays a wide range of pulse types in 3 dimensions and time, allowing the user to control the value of each of 12 separate pulse parameters and to instantly see how each parameter control changes the pulse quality. This tool not only makes pulse taking vastly easier to learn but increases the user's accuracy and thoroughness in describing a specific client's pulses.

Herbal Tutor — interactive game software for learning to accurately identify syndrome-patterns

Unfortunately, the profession of Chinese medicine has been fraught with a conservative mindset in educational methods that emphasizes rote memorization of ancient texts and materia medica rather than in exercising students' skills in problem solving, which any good chess player knows to be an essential skill. For over 15 years at RMHI, we have used a radically different method to teach our students the art and skill of clinical pattern evaluation: we require them to regularly use Herbal Tutor, an extensive suite of interactive game software that we designed specifically for this purpose. The software has been successful in preparing students to perform accurate and thorough clinical evaluations, but the main problem is that for the past few decades, ever fewer students seem to have had the motivation and persistence necessary to learn this technique well. Consequently, the vast majority of practitioners of Chinese medicine practitioners are applying only a small fraction of its potential; moreover, few routinely perform thorough pulse and tongue evaluations, which has been considered essential to accurate pattern assessment throughout Chinese medicine's long history.


Summary — business opportunity as a TCM health-coach/Group-Leader
    (updated 2017-10-08)

RMHInet overcomes many of the limitations of conventional social media, distance-learning, and purely Internet-based crowd-sourcing platforms: lack of meaningful social interaction, difficulty communicating ideas that must be demonstrated in person or that have a complex data format. RMHInet can overcome these limitations because its features support and encourage members to apply the principles of traditional Chinese medicine accurately and precisely:

  • Membership requirements that include having completed simple tutorials and self-study, which prepare all members to intelligently communicate clinical case information in a format recognized and understood by traditional Chinese herbalists.
  • Support for forming local groups in which members have real contact with other members for practice learning pulse palpation, tongue evaluation, and case-history taking, friendly discussions, classes on special topics, and finding study partners.
  • An extensive array of software tools that allows members to communicate and share information using precisely defined terminology, databases, clinical case formats, and expert-systems analyses.

The problems with the US healthcare system are complex and multifaceted, involving dysfunctional economics, education, school accreditation, professional regulation and licensing, and cultural and social breakdown. This unfortunate situation has created unique opportunities for individuals with the right skills to provide valuable services to the public that very few health professionals are currently offering.

Below, I summarize the main points of this article and what this means for individuals and entrepreneurs who have an interest in providing effective, practical solutions:

  • Why the US healthcare system is broken
  • Crucial services that the current healthcare system is not providing
  • Why providers of these services do not require extensive education or training
  • Discover whether you already may have the aptitude and necessary skills
  • How enterprising individuals can provide these services at low cost to clients and make a comfortable income doing so
  • How you can bootstrap these skills into a lifelong career as a traditional Chinese (TCM) herbalist and environmental health educator

Why the US healthcare system is broken
The American healthcare system is the most expensive in the world when ranked by total per-person expenses (direct fees, healthcare taxes, insurance premiums, etc.), yet we have some of the worst healthcare outcomes and quality-of-life indicators among all the industrialized nations. Following are some of the reasons for this:

  • Emphasis on profit-maximization for the medical-industrial-pharmaceutical cartels at the expense of long-term patient health and quality of life
  • Prevalence of quick-fix solutions that suppress symptoms while jeopardizing long-term health
  • Failure to provide effective education to patients regarding diet/nutrition, toxic aspects of many dietary and environmental health hazards, exercise, and other lifestyle factors
  • Abandoning the ancient medical art of taking a careful symptom history and over-reliance on expensive lab tests
  • Inability to address complex health issues that fall outside the range of current medical dogma and standards of practice imposed by law and economics

Many licensed healthcare practitioners have gone so deeply into debt to pay for their education, they are constrained to run their clinics like factory assembly lines merely to pay back their student loans, which explains why patients are squeezed into 5- or 10-minute appointment slots. Needless to say, taking a through symptom history and discovering possible dietary and environmental triggers for patients' illnesses is impossible in such absurdly brief time-slots. Quick-fix solutions provided by the medical-industrial-pharmaceutical complex readily become the default under such difficult circumstances.

Crucial services that the current healthcare system is not providing
US healthcare practitioners are generally failing to provide the following very basic, though crucial, services:

  • Compiling a patient health report that includes a thorough symptom history, medical history, diet habits, and history of exposure to environmental toxins
  • Educating patients regarding diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental health hazards common in industrialized nations
  • Educating patients in specific techniques in self-care, exercise, etc. — teaching them to take back control of their own health from "the experts"
  • Showing patients how to take advantage of Internet resources, social networking, and brainstorming networks to leverage the power of crowd-sourcing toward solving difficult medical and healthcare problems

Why providers of these services do not require extensive education or training
Providing these services requires common sense, good communication skills, and familiarity with basic computer operations and the Internet. You may already have the aptitude and necessary skills to help provide these crucial services to others.

  • Do you have patience and empathy in listening to people and accurately reporting what they said? — absolutely crucial for taking an accurate and thorough health history
  • Are you good at explaining instructions, facts, and ideas to others and ensuring that they understand?
  • Do you have a good grasp of reason, logic, and the art of argument/debate?
  • Are you skilled at using basic computer software? — the vast majority of RMHI's course material is provided as a software package comprising text references, databases, interactive games, and video simulations.
  • Are you careful about following written instructions?
  • Do you enjoy reading books, news, and articles about health?

The preceding, sadly, along with critical thinking and high-level literacy, are skills that many public schools, colleges, and universities have abandoned in favor of social engineering and Skinnerian behavioral programming. Graduates are indoctrinated to regurgitate current social, political, and scientific dogmas rather than to think critically. (Even the elite Ivy League colleges have not been spared from this trend.) Since about the 1980's, individuals must develop these skills on their own, if they were not lucky enough to have parents who home-schooled them. This is the primary reason that, at RMHI, we consider formal education irrelevant to our student admissions.

Discover whether you already may have the aptitude and necessary skills
We have created what we call "Herbalists BootCamp" to allow you to discover whether you have the aptitude and necessary skills to provide the crucial, though basic, services that the US healthcare system is currently not generally providing. To apply for admission to BootCamp, simply follow the instructions in tutorial #1.

During RMHI's first year of offering Herbalists' BootCamp, we demonstrated that we can prepare graduates to provide these crucial services within 60 hours of training.

How enterprising individuals can provide these services at low cost to clients and make a comfortable income doing so
If you successfully complete Herbalists' BootCamp, within a short period of time participating as an Active Member of RMHInet, you can qualify as an authorized Group Leader to begin offering local study groups and individualized help to clients in your community. As a Group Leader, you are not necessarily an "expert" (unless you have prior professional training and experience); you may not even know the answers to many questions that your clients and study-group members may ask you. However, if you have successfully completed Herbalists' BootCamp, and as a member of the RMHInet brainstorming network, you will have online access to members with a wide range of expertise and backgrounds who will be able to offer help, suggestions, and information that you can pass on to your local clients and group members. By serving as a local Group Leader, you will be providing a means for RMHI to effectively reach into communities worldwide. The vast majority of people find abstract written texts, software, and even the Internet to be somewhat intimidating. You can help us reach these people, and by providing these valuable services, you will be taking the first steps toward starting your own successful business.

As an RMHI-authorized Group Leader you will operate as an independent entrepreneur and business-person. Just as graduates of our professional-level curricula operate their practices entirely independently of RMHI, each Group Leader is likewise independent. By means of phone/email consultations, software services, expert-systems case-analysis reports, and networking with other RMHInet members, RMHI can provide you with the support services to aid you in educating your local group members and individual clients.

How you can bootstrap these skills into a lifelong career as a traditional Chinese (TCM) herbalist and environmental health educator
As you gain experience as a Group Leader, you may discover that you would like to study traditional Chinese herbology on a professional level. The fees that you charge your members and clients can help to fund your tuition at RMHI.

Note that, if you follow the guidelines explained in the following article:

you most likely do not require a professional license to do so. The vast majority of herbalists worldwide do not have professional, government-granted licenses to do so, nor do they require them.


How to join RMHInet

People with a wide range of experience and knowledge are encouraged to join RMHInet. Each level is tailored to the special needs of each class of participants, from beginners to experts.

 Apply to become a member now… 
(To apply for admission to an RMHI certification course, you must first qualify for membership in RMHInet.)