For herbalist, a tongue tells no lies

"The Seattle Times" - March 8th, 2018"

Photos and article by Alan Berner

Tongue Pictures
John Stone's visits to Renton herbalist Juliana Chin Isogai are documented with a photo of his tongue, a practice she learned from her father, Hen Sen Chin. "The tongue represents the heart," she says, and is key to revealing a client's ailment.

 

Like Father, like daughter.

Juliana Chin Isogai knows how to combine traditional herbs, hundreds of them.

"The bitter the better."

And she knows how to read tongues.

"Tongues don't lie."

Juliana Weighing herbs

She was taught by her father, the late Hen Sen Chin

He had a shop in the Chinatown International District and then Beacon Hill from 1951 to 2006.

He blended herbs for teas after checking patients' tongue.

The teas are natural traditional medicines. Tongue is key to revealing the clients's ailment and which teas should be taken.

Behid him were scores of drawers filled with herbs.

For various disorders he wuld blend at least a score of roots, leaves and flowers -- including Dangui, commonly known as female ginseng, or Da huang, Chinese rhubarb.

He took Polaroids of each patients' tongue and kept a record.

Isogai began learning about herbs when she was only 5. He would test her on recognizing the herb by its aroma.

A correct answer was rewarded with a quarter.

What was a bobby became a passion with her ability to identify herbs.

At age 12 she began an apprenticeship with her dad

Isogai, now 44, says she became a herbalist because, "I wanted to help othrs." And she has a great sense of smell for identifying herbs.

The question she ask is very personal. She probes about bodily functions, eating habits, sleeping habits.

She teaches people to eat healthily.

She doesn't drink coffee or alcohol and takes in very little sugar.

Exeercising regularly helps reduce stress. Early morning yoga is practiced before work.

Her dad taught her to "walk the talk."

This is where East meets WEst in health care.

She takes traditional Chinese herbs, doing tastings for herself and her husband Kaz.

The bitter the better.

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