Book Review: The Ancient Wisdom of Chinese Tonic Herbs

Ron Teeguarden is an American herbalist who overcame serious ill health at an early age by using Chinese herbs, and has since specialised in the ‘tonic’ herbs, which is what this book is all about. The tonic herbs are those considered most safe and useful for the general population, and Teeguarden here describes his 22 favourites in detail. Some, such as ginseng, are well known, others you may have come across (goji berries, dang gui, cordyceps) and still others are more unusual (morinda root, deer antler, gynostemma.) Each herb has a number of pages devoted to its effects and uses, how to take it, and what to look for when purchasing.

Another couple of dozen herbs are given brief mentions – these are the ‘supporting cast of herbs’ and then a number of herbal formulations are described along with specific advice for different goals – ‘mental energy’, ‘fertility’, ‘athlete’s programs’ etc. Teeguarden sells a number of his own formulas in the USA, but to his credit, also mentions plenty of traditional formulas which are easily available outside the states.

Teeguarden is certainly enthusiastic about these herbs, you’d be forgiven for thinking they can cure all disease and bestow immortality! Still, the book is an excellent introduction to the topic with enough info to start trying some herbs yourself if you choose to. It is written for the layperson in an easy to read style, and although a little Chinese medicine knowledge would help, it is not necessary.

It is available from and

1 reply
  1. Celidh
    Celidh says:

    After seeing this I bought a copy of Teeguarden’s book from Amazon. As Neil says, it covers the subject with a lot of passion and enthusiasm.

    I found it fascinating and after reading it I’m now trying out a few of the herbs mentioned. Needless to say some can be obtained from For others you may have to contact Neil directly.

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