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newNY_2011Oriental Medicine Journal Summer/Fire 2011

The Summer Solstice – the longest interval of sunlight during the year, the most Yang moment of the entire annual cycle, the moment when there is so much yang that it turns to yin, the moment when the yin within the yang begins to grow. What a special moment this is! For that one moment everything is so delicately balanced, as though our Earth is a great Dancing Spindle, to borrow an image from one of my favorite fantasy writers, Robin Hobb. Her Spindle is firmly rooted in the ground and suspended from the heavens, by Magic. The flow of qi is rather like magic, too. It flows around us and through us and supports us as we move. How like magic that is, especially on a day like the Summer Solstice, when the energies are as extreme as they can be without pulling apart . . . and then the shift occurs, and our Earthly Spindle begins to lean in a slightly different direction, never losing the momentum of its spin; and the cycle continues, toward the Winter Solstice and toward another delicate, though opposite, balance when the energy shifts again.

We have an unusual balance of articles in our Fire issue. We open with an article by Dennis Willmont on the Hún, the Spirit of the Liver. Willmont speaks of the Liver as the “end of Yin within Yin and beginning of Yang,” rather the opposite of the Summer Solstice but definitely a part of the balancing act of shifting energies. Willmont’s article is a pre-publication chapter of his book entitled, The Five Phases of Acupuncture in the Classical Texts. In this article he takes us through a fascinating discussion of the derivation and the meanings of the word Hún.

The second article is a discussion by Eric Brand of the necessity for authentication of Chinese herbs. Brand neatly summarizes for us what kinds of errors can occur in the identification of herbs; and he provides examples of herbs that are commonly misidentified, along with the consequences of misidentification.

Our third article is a case study of Clostridium difficile infection by Joan Rothchild Hardin. C. difficile creates Heat Toxins in the bowel, so it seems a fitting article for the Fire issue. What is unusual about this article is that Hardin is a psychotherapist, and she successfully treated herself for this sometimes fatal condition, without antibiotics. Hardin reviews for us the epidemiology and symptoms of C. diff. infection and tells us how she put together a health care team to combat it. Her health care team did not include an OM practitioner, and she did not use Chinese herbs; but the process she used is one that an OM practitioner can adapt to our methods, and we all should know when to suspect C. diff. infection in our patients.

We end with a book review by former OMJ Editor Frank Yurasek of the Pocket Atlas of Tongue Diagnosis, 2nd edition, by Claus C. Schnorrenberger and Beate Schnorrenberger.

We hope you enjoy your Summer.