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Essential Chinese Formulas: 225 Classical and Modern Prescriptions Organized by Clinical Category

Essential Chinese Formulas: 225 Classical and Modern Prescriptions Organized by Clinical Category by Jake Paul Fratkin. Boulder, Colorado: Shya Publications; 2014. Hardcover, 650 pages. ISBN: 978-0-96226978-0-6. $65.00.

Essential Chinese Formulas by Jake Paul Fratkin, OMD, LAc, provides the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner a manual for 225 commonly used formulas based on Fratkin’s extensive clinical experience. The book features 133 classical formulas, 83 modern formulas, and nine single herbs, organized under clinical chapter headings unique to Fratkin’s organization system. Each formula lists ingredient percentages, TCM indications, applications, contraindications, and cautions, as well as the unique clinical experiences of the author.

Fratkin showcases commonly used classic and modern formulas available in the current marketplace, often comparing various versions of formulas that have the same name. This is an important bridge that Fratkin builds for the modern clinic: He points out modern applications of classical formulas, while also introducing important modern formulas of which practitioners may be less aware. As more and more companies are restricted in describing their formulas’ health benefits — due to increased regulatory activity in the United States and elsewhere — there has been a decrease in product literature from various companies. Fratkin’s descriptions in Essential Chinese Formulas enlighten and inform readers of the modern applications and availability of these products.

This comes as a welcome resource for the many practitioners of TCM who are hesitant to explore the clinical practicality of Chinese herbal medicine despite their extensive training. Fratkin connects the dots and gets the practitioner to re-think applications and uses of Chinese herbal medicine for the many clients who walk into the clinic.

On the inside back cover of Essential Chinese Formulas, there are specific codes for the therapeutic herbal categories as well as a concise list of all of the herbal companies (and their individual formulas) that are represented throughout the text. This affords the practitioner a device for understanding how herbs are placed in a formula. Once one gets accustomed to this organization, it makes the book a quick and easy reference in a clinical situation. It also is convenient that each formula opens to two full pages of description and application.

This book is quite similar in tone to Fratkin’s previously published Chinese Herbal Patent Medicines: The Clinical Desk Reference (Shya Publications, 2001). That book was very popular with students and practitioners 14 years ago, and many people may wonder: “Why should I get the new one?” Whereas the previous books details 900 patent medicine formulas, many of which are available only in specialty herb stores, this work fills the need of current practitioners and students wishing to concentrate on the most important and available 225 formulas. It also collects information from and focuses on the author’s continued clinical experience, as well as his integration of material from newer texts from China and the United States. I recommend this book for students and teachers of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, as well as for the dedicated practitioner.

—Shellie L. Rosen, DOM Practitioner and Consultant Albuquerque, New Mexico