Prepared rehmannia

Chinese: 熟地黄

Pinyin: Shú Dì huáng

Parts used: Prepared dried root tuber

TCM category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Rehmannia glutinosa

Use of prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang) 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: The roots are steamed and dried in the sun 9 times before being dried for a final time.

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which prepared rehmannia may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Night sweats Anemia Palpitations Abnormal uterine bleeding Tinnitus Premature graying

Contraindications*: This herb should be used with caution by those with weak digestion and Spleen Qi. It should be avoided by those with Stagnation of Qi or Phlegm.

Common TCM formulas in which prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang) are used*

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Conditions targeted*: Menstrual crampsIrregular menstruation and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Si Wu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Si Wu Tang, Shu Di huang has a very strong tonifying effect on the Liver and Kidneys and is said to nourish the Yin of the Blood.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisChronic pharyngitis and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Bai He Gu Jin Tang, Shu Di huang is a very powerful tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin. Together with its sister herb Unprepared rehmannia (Sheng Di Huang), it is also especially helpful in treating Fire due to Yin Deficiency.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Conditions targeted*: Chronic nephritisProstate diseases and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Liu Wei Di Huang Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Shu Di huang strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusDiabetes insipidus and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, Shu Di huang strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusDiabetes insipidus and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, Shu Di huang strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Invigorates the Blood.

Conditions targeted*: Infertility and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes the Blood

Read more about Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 1706 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Nourishes Yin.

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Gui Shao Di Huang Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Gui Shao Di Huang Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes Liver and Kidney Yin

Read more about Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Da Bu Yuan Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Yin and Blood. Nourishes Qi and Yang.

Conditions targeted*: Uterine prolapse and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Da Bu Yuan Jian. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Da Bu Yuan Jian, Shu Di huang tonifies the true Yin of the five Yin Organs. It is necessary to use Shu Di huang to treat Yin Deficiency of the 12 Meridians. When the Yin is Deficient and fire ascends, it cannot be directed downward sufficiently without the heaviness of Shu Di huang.  Due to Yin deficiency, restless movement cannot be sedated sufficiently without the stillness of Shu Di huang. And hardness and tension due to Yin Deficiency cannot be relaxed sufficiently without the sweetness of Shu Di huang

Read more about Da Bu Yuan Jian

Da Ying Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Expels Cold.

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Da Ying Jian. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Da Ying Jian, Shu Di huang nourishes Blood

Read more about Da Ying Jian

Dang Gui Di Huang Yin

Source date: 1640 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Tonifies Kidney and Liver Yin. Regulates the menstrual cycle.

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Dang Gui Di Huang Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Dang Gui Di Huang Yin, Shu Di huang strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Read more about Dang Gui Di Huang Yin

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisChronic nephritis and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Zuo Gui Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Zuo Gui Wan, Shu Di huang tonifies the true Yin of the five Yin Organs. In case of Yin Deficiency and Empty Fire arises, the heaviness of Shu Di huang can direct it downward sufficiently. It can also be used for settling down restless movement and hard tension. 

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan

Zuo Gui Yin

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Tonifies the Kidneys.

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Zuo Gui Yin, Shu Di huang tonifies the true Yin of the five Yin Organs. In case of Yin Deficiency that causes Empty Fire to rise, the heaviness of Shu Di huang can direct it downward sufficiently. It can also be used for settling down restless movement and hard tension. 

Read more about Zuo Gui Yin

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Conditions targeted*: AnemiaHepatitis and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Ba Zhen Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ba Zhen Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes the Blood.

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang

Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Yin. Drains Fire.

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan, Shu Di huang strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Read more about Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Yu Nu Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Heat from the Stomach. Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: StomatitisGlossitis and others

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Yu Nu Jian. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yu Nu Jian, Shu Di huang nourishes Kidney Body Fluids Deficiency, which enables water to control Fire.

Read more about Yu Nu Jian

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Conditions targeted*: Nephrotic syndromeOsteoporosis and others

Shu Di huang is a deputy ingredient in You Gui Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In You Gui Wan, Shu Di huang work together with the other deputies (Shan Zhu Yu, Shan Yao, Gou Qi Zi, Tu Si Zi and Du Zhong) to nourish the Yin to benefit the Kidneys, nourish the Liver, and tonify the Spleen.

Tonifying the Spleen is especially important in this formula as it helps to indirectly tonify and supplement Essence and Blood.

Read more about You Gui Wan

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Source date: 1291 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Blood and regulates the Liver. Moves Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen. Stops pain.

Conditions targeted*: Scanty menstruationPainful menstruations and others

Shu Di huang is a deputy ingredient in Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, Shu Di huang has a very strong tonifying effect on the Liver and Kidneys and is said to nourish the Yin of the Blood.

Read more about Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Conditions targeted*: AnemiaNonhealing ulcers and others

Shu Di huang is a deputy ingredient in Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang, Shu Di huang supports White peony root in nourishing the Blood.

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Sheng Yu Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Preserves the Blood.

In Sheng Yu Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes and invigorates Blood

Read more about Sheng Yu Tang

He Che Da Zao Wan

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies the Kidneys. Strengthens the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Regulates the periods.

Read more about He Che Da Zao Wan

Qing Jing San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Blood-Heat. Stops bleeding.

In Qing Jing San, Shu Di huang nourishes Blood

Read more about Qing Jing San

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Conditions targeted*: Diabetes mellitusHyperaldosteronism and others

In Shen Qi Wan, Shu Di huang is sweet and cooling. It enriches the Yin and generates Body Fluids. Its large dosage relative to the other ingredients reflects the importance of tonifying the Kidneys and replenishing the Yin,  It also strongly enriches the Kidney Essence

Read more about Shen Qi Wan

Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang

Source date: 1602 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Blood.

In Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes Blood

Read more about Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang

Source date: 1180 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms and tonifies Qi. Warms and tonifies Blood.

Conditions targeted*: AnemiaNervous exhaustion and others

In Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, Shu Di huang has a very strong tonifying effect on the Liver and Kidneys and is said to nourish the Yin of the Blood.

Read more about Shi Quan Da Bu Tang

Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Yang.

In Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes Blood and strengthen Qi. Shu Di huang and Dang Gui together make sure that all ingredients enter the Blood to stop bleeding.

Read more about Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes Yin.

In Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang, Shu Di huang nourishes Blood.

Read more about Ren Shen Dang Gui Tang

Key TCM concepts behind prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), prepared rehmannia are plants that belong to the 'Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency' category. Tonic herbs are used for patterns of Deficiency, when one lacks one of the 'Four Treasures' (Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang). Blood tonics tend to be bitter-sweet with either a Warm or neutral nature. Because the Liver stores Blood, all Blood tonics enter that Organ's Channel.

As suggested by its category prepared rehmannia are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that prepared rehmannia tend to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess(because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition prepared rehmannia can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Prepared rehmannia also taste Sweet. 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. Sweet ingredients like prepared rehmannia tend to slow down acute reactions and detoxify the body. They also have a tonic effect because they replenish Qi and Blood.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such prepared rehmannia are thought to target the Kidney and the Liver. According to TCM, the Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.

Research on prepared rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Bushen Qiangdu Recipe (consisting of prepared rehmannia root) showed significant effect in treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.1

Dandi Tablet (consisting of prepared Rehmannia Root) has the effect of elevating levels of estrogen and improving blood lipid metabolism, therefore shows a coronary heart disease preventive effect in women of postmenopausal stage.2

Runmushu Oral Liquid (consisting of prepared rehmannia root) with artificial-tears can alleviate the eye symptoms, promote the secretion of tears in treating postmenopausal women xerophthalmia. 3

Sources:

1. Wang H, Yan XP, Kong WP. (2011). Effect of bushen qiangdu recipe on osteoporosis and bone loss of patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 31(4):471-5.

2. Liang R, Chen MR, Xu X. (2003). Effect of dandi tablet on blood lipids and sex hormones in women of postmenopausal stage. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 23(8):593-5.

3. Wei D, Li YH, Zhou WY. (2009). Observation on therapeutic effect of runmushu oral liquid in treating xerophthalmia in postmenopausal women. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 29(7):646-9.