"Zang Fu Syndromes:
Differential Diagnosis and Treatment"


James McNeill
Immediate Past President NZRA

"This big reference book has been a long time coming. John McDonald came to New Zealand a couple years ago and gave some well-received lectures in Taupo on Shen Disturbances and a unique presentation on Secret Ming Dynasty Needle Techniques. I and many of my colleagues thoroughly enjoyed the seminar. John's dry wit and "tangential circumlocutions" result in a great presentation style of important and valuable information. The subject matter of this book is no less clinically important, in my opinion a defining work in the transfer of TCM to the Western world.

This text was originally written for students and staff of colleges in Australia. The aim of this towering work was to provide a learning tool for students and staff of other colleges and a reference book for acupuncture/TCM practitioners. The major source was the Chinese text Zang Fu Zheng Zhi (Study of Zang Fu Syndromes, 1980). The text was also designed to be consistent with California acupuncture course work, so with the inclusion of co-author Joel Penner it includes a comprehensive herbal text as well.

At almost 600 pages Zang Fu Syndromes is a big book. Before the age of political correctness, some would say "man size book". Needless to say, I am impressed by the practical and concise layout, graphics and flow charts. It is taken that the reader has a fundamental knowledge of basic TCM theory (Zang Fu and Jing Luo function, theory of Qi and blood, body fluids, eight principles etc.)

What strikes me is how the complexity of the information can be conveyed so effectively through the chosen format. Divided into sections devoted to each of the five elements, each syndrome follows generally the following line:

In each of the element chapters is a fantastic flow chart which brings all the information together.
Joel Penner in conjunction with John McDonald, has done a great job structuring the herbal formulae content; comprehensive yet concise. The herbal section of Zang Fu Syndromes takes a little over half the content of the book. Again, the format is so user friendly you have to make an effort to get it wrong. Formulas names in Pin Yin and English, individual herb actions, contraindications, modifications; it's all here.

Worthy of note is the index section. It's brilliant! Included is a Pin yin formula index, English formula index, Latin individual herb index, Pin Yin individual herb index, point index, and tongue and pulse indexes.

In the words of David Legge (author of Close to the Bone) "Zang Fu Syndromes: Differential Diagnosis and Treatment gives you the information you need---when you need it." This book looks good on my desk!"

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