Mang Xiao (Mirabilites) in Chinese Medicine

English: Mirabilites

Chinese: 芒硝

Parts used: The rock crushed as a powder

TCM category: Purgative herbs that drain downward

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterSalty

Organ affinity: Stomach Large intestine

Scientific name: Natrii Sulfas

Other names: Glauber's salt, Sodium sulfate

Use of Mang Xiao (mirabilites) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Crush the rock into powder

Dosage: 3 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Purges Stagnation in the Intestines caused by Heat and Dryness, Cools Heat and abates swelling

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Mang Xiao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Swellings Lumps Appendicitis

Contraindications*: As this substance has a strong descending action, it should not be used during pregnancy, menstruation or post-partum; it should also be avoided by those with Spleen Deficiency and by the elderly.

Common TCM formulas in which Mang Xiao is used*

Huang Long Tang

Source date: 1445 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clear Heat from the Interior . Supports the Original Qi.

Conditions targeted*: TyphoidParatyphoid and others

Mang Xiao is a king ingredient in Huang Long Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Huang Long Tang, Mang Xiao helps to drain Heat and unblock the bowels along with Rhubarb.

Read more about Huang Long Tang

Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Stagnant Heat in the intestines. Reduces swelling and disperses lumps.

Conditions targeted*: AppendicitisPelvic inflammatory disease and others

Mang Xiao is a deputy ingredient in Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang, Mang Xiao softens the stools and aids in draining Heat downward, thereby unclogging the Intestines.

Read more about Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang

Da Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Relieves constipation.

Conditions targeted*: PancreatisAppendicitis and others

Mang Xiao is a deputy ingredient in Da Cheng Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Da Cheng Qi Tang, Mang Xiao has stool-softening properties that helps the key herb (Rhubarb) in its purgative action. Together they moisten Dryness as they drain downward.

Read more about Da Cheng Qi Tang

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Mang Xiao is a deputy ingredient in Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, Mang Xiao helps Da Huang moisten Dryness and drain downward

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Liang Ge San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Fire. Unblocks the bowels by clearing the Upper Burner. Draining the Middle Burner.

Conditions targeted*: PharyngitisStomatitis and others

Mang Xiao is a deputy ingredient in Liang Ge San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Liang Ge San, Mang Xiao opens the bowel to flush Heat from the Middle Burner.

Read more about Liang Ge San

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Dispels Heat and. Eliminates Blood Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: LeiomyomaRetained placenta and others

Mang Xiao is an assistant ingredient in Tao He Cheng Qi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, Mang Xiao softens areas of hardness and dispels Stagnation, thereby helping Rhubarb move stools, drain Heat and eliminate Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Zeng Ye Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Generates Body Fluids. Nourishes the Yin. Unblocks the bowels. Drains Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Acute infectious diseasesHigh fever and others

Mang Xiao is an assistant ingredient in Zeng Ye Cheng Qi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zeng Ye Cheng Qi Tang, Mang Xiao softens hardness, drains the Heat, and cleans the Stomach and Intestines

Read more about Zeng Ye Cheng Qi Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Mang Xiao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Mang Xiao belongs to the 'Purgative herbs that drain downward' category. The herbs in this category are those whose main purpose is to treat constipation. The fact they're 'purgative' means that they do so by removing Excess Heat in the Intestines and/or Stomach. As such all herbs in this category are Cold in nature, in order to cool the Heat.

Furthermore Mang Xiao is Cold in nature. This means that Mang Xiao typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Mang Xiao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Mang Xiao also tastes Bitter and Salty. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Mang Xiao tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Salty ingredients tend to have a draining effect in the body because they clear accumulations, remove Phlegm and soften hard lumps.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Mang Xiao is thought to target the Stomach and the Large intestine. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces.