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Meet David Nohr: Practicing Ancient Wisdom; Dispensing a Modern Solution

When you have studied herbalism under living legends, you better make sure that the herbs you prescribe for your own patients meet your master’s approval. 

David Nohr is a highly-in-demand Chinese Medicine Physician, and owner of San Diego-based Red Tonics, a healing center specializing in acupuncture and herbal medicine. Nohr has studied classical Chinese medicine in China, under the tutelage of Suzanne Robidoux and master herbalist Dr. Feng Shi Lun. 

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The former translated and edited over 20 professional Chinese medical textbooks related to acupuncture and Chinese medicine, while the latter is chief physician at the Ministry of Health Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing and the founder and president of the Hu Xi Shu Classical Medicine Research Institute in Beijing. 

So if someone comes into your clinic with a laundry list of health complaints, and you’re David Nohr, not any brand of herbs will do. 

With your desire to heal your patients and the scrutiny of herbal masters looming large in your conscience, how do you select a brand of go-to herbs with so many competitors on the market? 

As recently as a few years ago, Nohr was purchasing from several different brands. But last year, ActiveHerb introduced its line of new and improved single herb extract granules. Nohr’s search for a go-to brand of Chinese herbs was finally over.

“The granules have been a game-changer for my practice,” says Nohr, who was raised in the African country of Zimbabwe until age 11. “Classical Chinese medicine calls for high dose of certain herbs but the problem with many brands is that in order to get a dose of herbs down to the standard 5:1 extract ratio, fillers and binders are added to them,” explains Nohr. 

Staying True To The Roots Of TCM

Most practitioners don’t necessarily follow the tenets of classic Chinese medicine, which involves a very precise methodology of diagnosing patterns. These days, a more integrative approach between western and eastern medicine is practiced.

But Nohr’s training and approach to healing adheres to oriental medicine orthodoxy, which does not evaluate an illness purely based on the symptoms a person is showing. Rather, classic Chinese medicine analyzes complex patterns of disharmony in the body, using as a guide, the 8 Principles of Diagnoses. 

In addition, classic Chinese medicine practitioners such as Nohr, most often eschew the use modern herbal formulas. Instead, they stick to formulas that have been time-tested and proven for over 2,000 years.

Quality Matters For The Most Sensitive

For somebody with a strong digestive system, the binders and filling agents that are added to many brands of herbal granules, to comply with industry concentration standards, may not pose a problem. However, for Nohr’s most sensitive patients, the quality of the herbs can be immediately noticed, and not always in a positive way. 

The granules have been a game-changer for my practice

“I have patients who come in for the first time and tell me that a specific herb or formula didn’t work for them, and actually made their problems worse,” says Nohr. Nohr explains that it wasn’t necessarily the herbs that weren’t working. Rather, the problem was that his patients were reacting to the fillers.

Nohr says he has personally experienced a bad reaction to a formula, after being exposed to mold in his former home. “I would get foggy headed and dizzy, and the formula I was taking at the time was not helping.”

High Concentration Herbal Extract Granules With No Fillers 

Nohr regards the herbal extracts used in ActiveHerb products to “Have gotten better and better.” He explains, “If I prescribe a classic herb for one of my patients and ActiveHerb sells it in the granule extracts, that’s where I’m getting it from,” he says. 

In a perfect world, however, Nohr wouldn’t prescribe any of his patients granule extracts. Instead, he would have his patients use herbs the classical way, with raw herbs. 

“Americans are notoriously non-compliant with raw herbs,” says Nohr, explaining: “It takes a lot of time … you have to double soak the herbs, and your place ends up smelling like dirty socks.”

Nohr acknowledges that ActiveHerb extract granules are far easier to use than raw herbs; within seconds they can be used as an instant hot tea. 

For Mathematically-Challenged Practitioners

But the challenge of using ActiveHerb extract granules, says Nohr, is that with the higher concentrations of certain herbs, if math isn’t your strong suit and you’re a practitioner, it could make prescribing a formula of different herbs problematic.


For example, Nohr references the herb, Long Gu, an herb that’s used in clinical applications for anxiousness and withdrawal symptoms. Long Gu extract granules have a concentration factor of 30X, meaning one gram of the granules is the equivalent of 30 grams of the raw dried herb. 

It’s easy to do the math when every single herb has a concentration of 5:1. But a small challenge to using granules of different concentrations is that some math is required. This is where ActiveHerb’s easy to use conversion calculator comes in handy. 

“ActiveHerb’s new line of granules is the closest you can get to using raw herbs,” says Nohr, adding, “With ActiveHerb you’re getting less fillers, and when fillers are used, they are natural. As a result, you’re getting more of the natural compounds in the raw herb, which greatly reduces the chances of side effects.”  

A Cautionary Tale Against Self-Prescribing

Nohr is devoted to using classic herbology and principles in his practice. As such, he advises people who use Chinese medicine against self-diagnosing and taking one-size-fits-all formulas. He also doesn’t recommend taking formulas long after a symptom has disappeared. 

“I can have 10 people come into my practice with insomnia, and all 10 people may get different formulas,” says Nohr. “One person might stay on a specific formula for a long time, while another person might only need it for a month,” adds Nohr. 

Nohr explains that taking a specific herb or formula can create a state of excess or deficiency. Taking a Blood tonic for too long, Nohr cites as an example, can lead to an excess of blood-building, which can create blood stagnation and digestive problems.

But Nohr realizes that not everybody is able to visit an acupuncturist or herbalist on a regular basis. “There is some merit to experimenting with your body, just like with food. And if you feel great taking a specific formula, then by all means, keep taking it.” 

For more information on David Nohr, visit or call 619.277.2375.