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Patty Johnson's Acupuncture and Herbs

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Circulation Formula / Calm Formula

Circulation Formula

Cardiovascular Disorders: Coronary heart disease, angina pectoris, ischemia, and atherosclerosis. In addition, to poor cerebral and body circulation, numbness of the limbs, peripheral neuropathy, and similar problems.

Western Therapeutic Actions

Vasodilating action to increase blood perfusion and decrease peripheral resistance.

Positive cardiotonic property to strengthen cardiac contraction and improve blood circulation. 

Antiplatelet and anticoagulant effects of reducing the risk of blood clots. 

Antihyperlipidemic function to lower plasma cholesterols and triglycerides. 

Formula Explanation 

Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders, such as coronary heart disease, angina pactoris, ischemia, and atherosclerosis, are characterized by Heart yang deficiency with blood stagnation disorders, treatment must focus on warming Heart yang, dissolves damp, eliminating phlegm, and invigorating blood circulation 

Ren Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Genseng) replenishes the vital qiand mimics the effect of cardiac glycosides, making the heartbeat stronger and more rhythmically. Xie Bai (Bulbus Allii Marcostemonis) and Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cannamomi) warm and facilitate the flow of yang qi in the chest to improve the function of the heart. Dan Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Salviae Miltiorrhizae) improves microcirculation, strengthens the myocardial contraction, and adjusts the heart rate. Mao dong Quing (Radix Ilicis Pubescentis) dilates the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and reduces the oxygen consumption of cardiac muscles. Ge Gen (Radix Puerariae Loxiang batae) Dilates blood vessels to lower blood pressure. Hong Hua (Flos Carthami. Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)., Jiang Xiang (Lignum Dalbergiae Odoriferae) and Chuan Xiong (Rhizoma Chuanxiong) invigorate general blood circulation and dispel blood stasis. Bai Shao (Radix Paeoniae Alba) nourishes the blood and relieves pain. Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi) promotes the peripheral blood circulation and unblocks stagnation in the channels and collaterals. Sha Ren (Rucuts Amomi) regulates qi and dissolves dampness Zhi Shi (Fructus Aurantil Immaturus), and Hou Po (Cortex Magnoliae Officinalis) regulates qi, expand the chest, and relieve congestion. 

Together, these herbs effectively treat Cardiovascular and circulatory disorders that affect the heart.

Cautions and Contraindications 

Acute Myocardial infarction is a medical emergency. Call 911 to send patients to the emergency room as soon as possible. Monitor their conditions until emergency medical personal arrive. 

Do not use the formula to treat acute myocardial infarction. Circulation is to be used to promote cardiovascular and circulatory health, not to treat acute heart attacks.

The herbal formula contains herbs that invigorate blood circulation, such as Dong Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) and Dan Shen (Radix et Rhizoma Saviae Mitiorrhizae). Therefore, patients who are on anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapies, such as Coumadin (Warfarin), should use this formula with caution or not at all. as there may be a higher risk of bleeding bruising.

Circulation is contraindicated during pregnancy and nursing.

Calm Formula

Clinical Applications

  • Stress, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness
  • General symptoms associated with stress, such as poor appetite, headache, tension, insomnia, etc.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) with breast distention, irritability, and mood swings.

Western Therapeutic Actions

  • Mild sedative effect to relieve nervousness and irritability
  • Anxiolytic function to relieve stress and anxiety
  • Analgesic action to relieve pain, headache and muscle tension associated with stress


  • A diet high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B and E is recommended. These nutrients are easily depleted by stress.
  • Encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables such as apricots, winter-melon, asparagus, avocados, bananas, and broccoli in addition to brown rice, dried fruit, figs, salmon, garlic, green leafy vegetables, soy products, and yogurt.
  • Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate), tobacco, alcohol, and sugar whenever possible.

The Tao Nutrition by Ni and McNease

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Recommendations: At least one week prior to the usual onset time of PMS symptoms, consume some of the following: ginger, green onion, fennel, orange peel, spinach, walnuts, hawthorn berries, cinnamon, and black pepper, and Chinese date.
  • Avoid cold foods, raw foods, excessive consumption of fruits, vinegar, all shellfish, coffee, stimulants, sugar, dairy products, and smoking.

Lifestyle Instructions

  • Regular exercise, adequate rest, and normal sleep patterns are beneficial for stress reduction
  • Practice meditation exercises at least twice daily.
  • Getaway from the daily routine to do something different and enjoyable to relieve stress whenever possible.
  • Noise can be disturbing to mental health and cause stress. Noise greater than 65-decibels can cause a psychological disturbance, greater than 90-decibels can cause emotional and vegetative consequences, and greater than 120-decibels can cause nervous system and hearing damages.
  • Shift outlook on life and look at changes in a positive way and as challenges rather than threats.

Clinical Notes

  • Calm is one of the most effective and popular herbal formulas for stress. It relieves Liver qi stagnation, which manifests in a wide range of clinical signs and symptoms, including but not limited to stress, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, PMS, insomnia, fidgeting, and irritability.
  • Calm has a quick onset of action. Most patients experience relief within a few hours, though it may take a few days to reach maximum effect.


Calm is a qi-regulating formula, and prolonged use (4 to 6 months) may cause qi deficiency in some patients. Such patients with stressful lifestyles or jobs who cannot be without Calm should be advised to take a qi tonic formula, such as Immune+ or Cordyceps 3, at 1 to 2 capsules daily to help maintain optimal qi levels in the body.

  • Patients who are on anticoagulant or antiplatelet therapies, such as Coumadin (Warfarin), should use this formula with caution, as there may be a slightly higher risk of bleeding and bruising

Modern Research

Calm is formulated based on Xiao Yao San (Rambling Powder), a classic Chinese formula for Liver qi stagnation. It has a wide range of therapeutic actions but is most commonly used for treating stress and nervous-related disorders with such symptoms as irritability, bad temper, lower abdominal rigidity, difficult and painful urination, increased menstrual flow, or uterine bleeding. Other uses of Calm include the treatment of chronic hepatitis, menopausal syndrome, chronic gastritis, and peptic ulcers.

Calm contains herbs that have good effects in treating PMS. In a study of 52 patients with PMS who began to take herbs three to five days prior to menstruation, it was reported that 14 patients experienced no signs and symptoms of PMS, 32 experienced significant improvement, and 6 experienced no effect. Furthermore, ingredients of Calm were reported to have effects in treating menopause as well. In a study with 102 patients with menopause, 92 reported significant improvement, 8 reported some improvement, and 2 discontinued the herbal treatment.

Pharmaceutical Drugs & Chinese Medicine: A Comparative Analysis

Stress and anxiety are two of the most common emotional disorders. Clinical Signs and symptoms include recurrent and intrusive thoughts, insomnia, disturbed sleep, illusions, hallucinations, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, restlessness, anger, and irritability.

Western Medical Approach: Pharmaceutical drug treatment for stress and anxiety focus primarily on the use of sedative and hypnotic drugs, such as Valium (Diazepam) and Ativan (Lorazepam). Though these drugs are very potent and have an immediate effect to sedate patients, they do not address the underlying conditions. Furthermore, long-term use of these medications are associated with many side effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, blurred vision, changes in sex drive or ability, shuffling walk, persistent, fine tremor or inability to sit still, difficulty breathing or swallowing, severe skin rash, yellowing of the skin or eyes, irregular heartbeat, and addiction. Therefore, these drugs should only be used when necessary, and only for a short period of time.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach

The use of herbs is extremely effective in treating stress and anxiety. Herbs regulate mood and emotions and alleviate stress and anxiety by enhancing the body's own ability to deal with these external factors. Unlike drugs that have an immediate effect of treating stress and anxiety by "sedating the mind and decreasing its responsiveness," herbs do not have immediate effect and require two or more weeks of continuous use to gradually treat these conditions. In contrast, one of the main advantages of herbs is they are safe and natural and do not have negative side effects like drugs.


Stress and anxiety are two common disorders. While drugs and herbs are both effective, they have contrasting differences in benefits and risks. While drugs are more effective for short-term treatment, herbs are more successful for long-term management. Furthermore, counseling (behavior and psychotherapy) is extremely important toward the understanding of and complete recovery from these conditions.

Case Studies

A 35-year-old male manager presented with stress, anxiety, and anger. His pulse was rapid, and his face was red. The practitioner diagnosed the condition as Liver qi stagnation and Liver yang rising. When the patient began the initial treatment one year ago, he and his wife noticed a significant improvement.  Through the course of the one-year treatment, the patient noticed a regression of his improvement when not taking his dose of Calm at 4 capsules two times a day. Consequently, his condition showed signs of improvement.

                                                         K.S., San Diego, California

A new job and concurrent relationship problems had created quite a stressful situation for a 27-year-old female restaurant cook, who was diagnosed with liver qi stagnation. Her tongue was purple ,and her pulse was wiry. Constantly thinking about her problems made her unable to relax. Placed on a two-week regimen of Calm has improved her condition tremendously. Although the patient reported that her stress has not changed, she felt more relaxed after taking Calm.

                                                          T.G., Albuquerque, New Mexico

A 40-year-old housewife presented with migraines, stress, and lack of sleep. She woke up frequently and had many stress-related headaches for years. The practitioner diagnosed the condition as Liver qi stagnation with heat rising. The practitioner felt the treatment should revolve around calming the shen (spirit). After two weeks of taking Calm, the headaches were less severe and less frequent, however, sleeping was still poor. At four weeks, her headaches were very mild and under control. She no longer needed to take any western medications. The patient appeared calmer and reported sleeping better and feeling less stressed. She was recommended to continue taking Calm for two to three more months. As an adjunct to the treatment, the practitioner also suggested taking Corydalin for her headaches, as well as reducing her caffeine intake.

                                                              D.S., Flagstaff, Arizona

S.C., a 42-year-old female, presented with stress due to domestic situations. Clinical manifestations included constipation, bloating, neck tension, insomnia, anorexia, fatigue, tearfulness, and sadness. Her tongue was pale and scalloped, with a mid-line crack; her pulse was soft and soggy. The Western diagnosis was depressive disorder; the TCM diagnosis was Liver qi stagnation. After taking Calm at three capsules, three times daily, the patient reported feeling much better. Her voice became more animated, and there was more character in her face and more shine to her eyes. Furthermore, the patient stated that her neck tension, insomnia, constipation, and sadness were gone.

                                                                C.L., Chino Hills, California

M.M., a 41-year-old female, presented with "adrenaline-rush" sensations, characterized by the heat flushed to her face, associated with mood swings and anxiety attack; the TCM diagnosis was Liver stagnation and yin deficiency. After beginning herbal therapy with Calm, two capsules three times a daily, the patient stated that her affect and personality became calmer. Furthermore, she reported, "feeling good," with increased energy levels and sound sleep.

                                                                 C.L., Chino Hills, California