The Three Treasures philosophy of Chinese herbology is over 5,000 years old. This system looks at the body as being composed of three energies or “treasures” – Jing, Chi, and Shen, that need to be nurtured and protected. Often referred to as “Vitality, Energy and Spirit,” it is the ancient precursor to the mind, body and spirit that we know today.
The Three Treasures is a health system whose sole objective is to build health beyond danger. It might have even been the original preventative care system in the world. Three Treasures utilized Chinese herbs to create this balance of energy. The herbs themselves were divided into three categories according to how they were used. Those three categories are superior, general and inferior.
At first glance you might think the names somehow allude to the quality of herbs used in that particular category. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the quality of the herb that often determines the outcome, no matter what the objective is.
Superior herbs are used to support life. You don’t have to be sick to use them, in fact it’s the opposite. You use superior herbs to build energy and life-force, to avoid being sick and developing chronic conditions. The word superior denotes a system of health care designed to keep you from getting run down and developing conditions that require medical attention.
Herbs, whole foods, clean water, body movement, massage, and relaxation are all part of a superior health program. This type of program establishes the “terrain”, a word used to describe all the different aspects of your physical self that contributes to health. The status of your terrain determines how often you get sick and even how well you recover from any illness.
It’s illogical to think you’ll never get sick, but a healthy person recovers quickly with very little long-term effect from their short dip into “dis-ease.”
General herbs are the type of herbs that have an effect of regulating and balancing conditions, such as stress and seasonal disruptions. These herbs help to balance your internal energies and keep everything in working order. For example, a stress formula may contain superior and general herbs to help maintain and soothe the nervous system and handle daily stress. Digestive herbs might compensate for the negative effect of stress on digestion. This class of herbs is great for compensating for lifestyle issues that can’t be avoided or resolved so that your body doesn’t suffer inappropriately or break down.
Inferior herbs are medicines. Often referred to as poisons, these types of herbs should only be used on the advice of an herbalist of doctor of oriental medicine. Medicines or poisons are meant to kill or eradicate something toxic that has invaded the body. Similar to antibiotics, the use should be short term and only used as an emergency. Relying on inferior herbs to stay healthy is truly an inferior way of looking at health.
Western medicine is a wonderful emergency medical system. The techniques it often relays on are lifesaving and seemingly magical. When you are the one it is saving, nothing in the world can be as miraculous as western medicine. Herein lies the problem. We have gotten so caught up in the wonders of it all that we have failed to notice it’s an inferior health care system. It is built on emergency care and it only treats symptoms.
In fact, we have gotten so good at it that we’ve given all of our power over to the system of western medicine. We pay huge sums on a monthly basis to insure we are going to get treated, when we fail to be well. It works great for the big emergency but somehow we’ve fallen into this general malaise about our health. We no longer care for our “self,” we simply believe someone will save us when we fail. Somehow we have bought into the idea that none of this is our fault.
Could this be behind the obesity/diabetes/heart disease problem that has reached epidemic proportions? We like to blame sugar and carbohydrates, but isn’t it just as much about not bothering to care for our selves? Is this really a superior health program? The Three Treasures is much more than a health system based on superior herbs. It is a way of connecting to how special we are as humans and how we need to nurture ourselves to reach our full potential.
I had the good fortune to learn about this system and the superior herbs of Chinese herbology. I incorporate this herbal system into everything I do, including the formulas for TianChi and Inner Peace. When you use these formulas, you’re not just relieving stress, you’re nurturing your whole being on a very deep level.
Superior herbs support life – and the idea we can all grow and become so much more than we are in this moment. Growth, expansion and radiant health are superior concepts available to everyone who cultivates their health and well-being.