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— updated 2020-12-14


Herbalists' BootCamp
Tutorial #4:   Herbal Tutor

by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.
These BootCamp tutorials will help you get started using the HerbalThink-TCM software, ensure it is installed correctly, demonstrate how to use important features and modules, and teach you basic principles of Chinese herbology that you can begin applying practically. Successful completion of this series is required for admission to the RMHInet brainstorming network and to our professional courses.

Copyright ©2016-2019 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved.

Jump to another BootCamp tutorial:
#1: Introduction, Download #2: Setup and Documentation #3: Self-Study Reference #4: Herbal Tutor #5: Pulse Simulator #6: CaseQuery #7: AutoSage-TCM #8: Completing member/admission requirements

Subtopics on this page…


Tutorial #4:   Herbal Tutor

Estimated completion time:   6 hours


Questionnaire #4

  • Download/Save questionnaire-04.txt
  • Most questions will require YES/NO answers.
  • Follow the instructions in the remainder of this tutorial; fill in your answers to the questionnaire when asked to do so.
  • Email your completed questionnaire to your assigned BootCamp tutor (the person who emailed you the original download instructions — Tutorial #1) and wait for a reply/feedback before continuing with the next tutorial.

Herbal Tutor

The Herbal Tutor interactive game software has been a key component of RMHI's curriculum since the year 2000. We have 15 years of statistics proving that students who diligently use it during their first year of studies are then able to apply these skills in analyzing complex clinical cases with multiple syndrome-patterns, an ability that many conventionally educated TCM herbalists never acquire, even after decades of practice. At whatever level you plan to study, this software will give you insights that no amount of rote memorization, reading of classic texts, etc. will provide.

Below is a screen shot of an Herbal Tutor syndrome game window, after the user has just identified the syndrome that correctly explains the displayed symptoms and signs. This is an example of a beginner-level game that you will be playing in this tutorial, which will allow you to gain skill in identifying the "Eight Principal Patterns" of TCM pathophysiology theory.


To use Herbal Tutor effectively, you will need to first complete the following assignments:

  1. Learn the Eight Principal Patterns. Read and study TCHS Vol.1, Ch. 6 ("The Eight Principal Patterns"). Familiarize yourself with all the patterns defined within that chapter. You don't necessarily need to memorize those patterns, but you may want to read that chapter several times until you feel you understand it well.
  2. Herbal Tutor instructions. Carefully follow the instructions in Lesson #A-04 ("Introduction to the Herbal Tutor"). These instructions will show you strategies for getting the most out of your game sessions. Especially important is the following audio-visual tutorial that explains syndrome game strategy:   Documentation | TCM Herbal Tutor | Audio-visual tutorials | Syndrome Identification games
  3. Play your first game. (The Test version of HerbalThink-TCM will allow you to access the "Lite" version-option of Herbal Tutor.) The first time you start Herbal Tutor, you will be asked if you want to create a new Progress file. Answer "YES", then select  Save  (see  File  menu) to save your Progress file to your hard drive. Thereafter, anytime you execute the  Save  command, your Progress scores will be updated to this file. We strongly recommend that you create a special folder (e.g.:  myHerbalTutorProgress ) within your user  Documents  folder and then save the file as something like  DoeJohn-htutor-MAIN .
        Then proceed to play a syndrome game for 30 minutes or so; remember to use your system's Magnifier feature to enlarge the game window for easier viewing. Examine the "Progress Report" — see  Progress Report  button at top right of Study Advisor window. As you learn the material, your scores will very gradually creep upward; these are not percentages. Patience and persistence are the watchwords here.

    Screen shot of the top half of a Progress Report for a beginning student who has not yet played any games; all scores start at "1.0".


    Screen shot of the top half of a Progress Report for a Level-1 student who has made significant progress with the syndrome games after studying syndromes for several months.


    Note about scores: ignore the single number [score=N] — see image below —
    that appears in the Study Advisor window after each game type. That number will bounce around a lot when new material is introduced — we should have avoided displaying it at all. The  Progress Report  is where all the important score items are kept.
        Be sure to save your file before quitting.
  4. Score requirements. See Admissions aptitude test — Herbal Tutor minimum required scores for score requirements if you are applying to qualify as an Active Member in RMHI's online brainstorming network or for admission as an RMHI certification candidate. For the purposes of this tutorial, however, do not be concerned about your scores; we are only interested in seeing that you have understood the mechanics of playing an Herbal Tutor game and managing your Progress File.

Managing your Progress files is important. From previous students' experience, we strongly recommend that you do the following:

  1. Make regular backup copies. Read Lesson #A-04c (Managing Herbal Tutor Progress files). Make a backup copy right now, keep it in a special folder (e.g.:  myHerbalTutorProgress ), and name it something like  DoeJohn-htutor-[archiveDate] . Make a backup of your main Progress file on a regular schedule, like every week.
  2. Continue to use your main Progress file. Whenever you restart Herbal Tutor, you should continue to use your main Progress file (e.g.:  DoeJohn-htutor-MAIN ).

    Example of how you might organize your progress files (on MacOS-X),
    making backup copies every week or so:


Important note about this tutorial:   Consistent with our philosophy of "study/work until you get it right", the Herbal Tutor games will allow you to make as many mistakes as you like. As long as you eventually learn the material, the software will automatically detect your improvement, will "forget" your old mistakes, and allow your scores to rise.


—>>  Questionnaire — Herbal Tutor

Please answer all questions in the questionnaire.
For this tutorial, don't be concerned about your scores; we primarily want to ensure that you know how to save, manage, and email your Progress file.


Supplements to this tutorial


Summary of what you learned in this tutorial

Determining the symptom-sign patterns that accurately describe an individual's condition can sometimes be tricky. (Traditional Chinese medicine has long had a reputation for being difficult to learn.) How many symptoms and sign clues must be present from a pattern's definition before one can reliably conclude that that pattern really describes one's condition? The Herbal Tutor games will help you answer this crucial question and will develop your skills in pattern analysis better than any other study method. And it is a lot more entertaining!

Please submit your completed questionnaire for this tutorial, wait to receive feedback from your assigned tutor, then go to  Tutorial #5:   Pulse Simulator