English: Szechuan lovage roots

Chinese: 川芎

Parts used: Dried rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Liver Pericardium

Scientific name: Ligusticum chuanxiong

Use of Chuan Xiong (szechuan lovage roots) 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: Remove impurities and smaller roots, wash and dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Chuan Xiong may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Irregular menstruation Amenorrhea Dysmenorrhea Chest pain Headache Arthralgia

Contraindications*: Not to be used for headaches that occur because of Deficiency of Yin or from raising Liver Yang; it should not be used when there is abnormal bleeding or during pregnancy.

Common TCM formulas in which Chuan Xiong is used*

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersIrritable bowel syndrome and others

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Yue Ju Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yue Ju Wan, Chuan Xiong helps remove Blood Stagnation and the pain typically associated with it. 

Read more about Yue Ju Wan

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Conditions targeted*: AmenorrheaPainful menstruations and others

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and dispels Blood Stagnation

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and dispels Blood Stagnation

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1575 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Resolves Damp-Phlegm. Nourishes Blood.

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang, Chuan Xiong nourishes and invigorates the Blood 

Read more about Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Conditions targeted*: Coronary artery diseaseRheumatic valvular heart disease and others

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and eliminates Blood Stagnation, especially in the upper part of the body. 

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates Blood. Unblocks painful obstruction. Relieves pain. Invigorate Qi. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Unblock Channels.

Conditions targeted*: Muscle crampsArthralgia and others

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and eliminates Blood Stagnation, especially in the upper part of the body. 

Read more about Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Conditions targeted*: HepatitisChronic gastritis and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Chai Hu Shu Gan San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Chai Hu Shu Gan San, Chuan Xiong is a powerful herb that can enter the Qi and Blood aspects of the Liver to remove stagnation and stop pain. 

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San

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

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Si Wu Tang, Chuan Xiong facilitates the flow of Blood through the vessels, alleviates symptoms such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision and pain.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

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

Chuan Xiong 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, Chuan Xiong invigorates the blood and promotes the movement of Qi. Above, it directs the Blood to the head, relieving symptoms like headache, dizziness, and blurred vision, while below, it moves the 'Sea of Blood' (the complex Blood system that is the Liver, the Penetrating vessel and the Womb). Overall, by facilitating the flow of Blood through the Vessels and Collaterals it releases constraint, opens knotting, and alleviates pain.

Read more about Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Dysfunctional uterine bleedingUterine hypoplasia and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Wen Jing Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Wen Jing Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates and nourishes the Blood, unblocks Blood Stagnation and regulates the menses

Read more about Wen Jing Tang

Shen Qi Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

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

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Shen Qi Si Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Shen Qi Si Wu Tang, Chuan Xiong facilitates the flow of Blood through the vessels, alleviates symptoms such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision and pain.

Read more about Shen Qi Si Wu Tang

Ren Shen Bai Du San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Ren Shen Bai Du San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ren Shen Bai Du San, Chuan Xiong assists the two key herbs in releasing the Exterior, invigorates the Blood and dispels Wind. It strengthens the the formula's pain relieving action, particularly in the head and neck.  

Read more about Ren Shen Bai Du San

Jing Fang Bai Du San

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Jing Fang Bai Du San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Jing Fang Bai Du San, Chuan Xiong assists the two key herbs in releasing the Exterior, invigorates the Blood and dispels Wind. It strengthens the the formula's pain relieving action, particularly in the head and neck.  

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du San

Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

Source date: 1587 AD

Number of ingredients: 16 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels Wind Damp from the Channels. Invigorates Blood. Unblocks the channels.

Conditions targeted*: ArthralgiaBell's palsy and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and harmonize the Nutritive Qi

Read more about Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi. Invigorates Blood. Unblocks the channels.

Conditions targeted*: Poststroke hemiplegiaCerebrovascular disease and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and harmonize the Nutritive Qi

Read more about Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Conditions targeted*: PhotophobiaAnemia and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Bu Gan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Bu Gan Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the flow of Blood through the vessels, alleviates symptoms such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision and pain.

Read more about Bu Gan Tang

Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang

Source date: 1308 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Induces sweating . Dispels Dampness. Expels Wind-Cold. Clears Interior Heat .

Conditions targeted*: Common coldMigraine and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang, Chuan Xiong assists the key herb in releasing the Exterior. It also relives headache and body pain. 

Read more about Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang

Shi Shen Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases pathogens from the Exterior . Regulates Qi . Descends the Lung Qi . Relieves coughing .

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Shi Shen Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Shi Shen Tang, Chuan Xiong circulates Qi within the Blood

Read more about Shi Shen Tang

Shi Wei Bai Du San

Source date: 1760-1835 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Dispels Wind and transforms Dampness. Clears Toxic Heat .

Conditions targeted*: AcneBoils and others

Chuan Xiong is a deputy ingredient in Shi Wei Bai Du San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Shi Wei Bai Du San, Chuan Xiong invigorates Blood and thrusts out pus.

Read more about Shi Wei Bai Du San

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 15 herbs

Formula key actions: Anti-rheumatic, clears Wind, Cold and Damp Stagnation. Strengthens the function of the Liver and Kidney. Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic lower back painSciatica and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

Read more about Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

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

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Ba Zhen Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ba Zhen Tang, Chuan Xiong promotes Qi movement and invigorates Blood

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang

Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels wind and dampness.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverUpper respiratory tract infections and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood so as to relieve headache as well as feeling of heaviness and pain. 

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Da Fang Feng Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Expel Wind Damp. Relieve pain. Tonify the Liver and the Kidneys. Tonify the Blood and Qi.

Conditions targeted*: ArthralgiaCommon cold and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Da Fang Feng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Da Fang Feng Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates and tonifies Blood at the same time. It is one of the four ingredients for the formula Si Wu Tang which is commonly use for Blood tonifying and invigorating purpose. 

Read more about Da Fang Feng Tang

Jia Wei Xiang Su San

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Promote sweating . Releases the Exterior .

Conditions targeted*: Common coldInfluenza and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Jia Wei Xiang Su San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Jia Wei Xiang Su San, Chuan Xiong treats of headache.

It focuses on the Liver especially, which governs ascension and dispersal. If there is no Qi and Blood Stagnation in the Interior, Pernicious Influences are more easily dispersed from the Exterior.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiang Su San

Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang

Source date: 1773 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Dispels Wind. Clears toxic-Heat. Disperses Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: RhinitisTonsillitis and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang, Chuan Xiong moves and nourishes the Blood. It is used to treat Blood Stagnation

Read more about Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang

Zai Zao San

Source date: 1445 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonfies the Yang . Augments the Qi. Induces sweating. Releases the Exterior.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverCommon cold and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Zai Zao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Zai Zao San, Chuan Xiong strengthens the Exterior-releasing and Cold-Dispersing of the Formula along with Notopterygium Root, and Saposhnikovia Roots.

Read more about Zai Zao San

Hai Tong Pi Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Disperses swelling. Dispels Wind, Dampness and Cold. Removes Stagnation and relieves pain.

Conditions targeted*: Trauma and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Hai Tong Pi Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation.

Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation. 

Read more about Hai Tong Pi Tang

An Tai Zhu Gao

Source date: 1879 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthens the Qi and Blood. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms the fetus.

Conditions targeted*: Restless fetus and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in An Tai Zhu Gao. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In An Tai Zhu Gao, Chuan Xiong regulates and moves the Blood

Read more about An Tai Zhu Gao

Xie Qing Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Liver and drains Fire .

Conditions targeted*: Vascular HeadachesHerpes zoster and others

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Xie Qing Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Xie Qing Wan, Chuan Xiong nourishes and moves the Liver Blood, preventing Fire from damaging the
Yin.

This is necessary because the Liver is 'Yin in Essence' and tends toward 'hardness.' Unless the Liver Blood is strong and soft, the Liver Qi cannot be controlled.

Read more about Xie Qing Wan

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

In Xia Ru Yong Quan San, Chuan Xiong nourishes and invigorates Blood

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Tuo Li Xiao Du San

Source date: 1548 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Draws out toxicity. Expels pus from the interior. Tonifies Qi and Blood.

In Tuo Li Xiao Du San, Chuan Xiong nourishes and invigorates Blood

Read more about Tuo Li Xiao Du San

Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Source date: 1576 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expel Dampness. Relieve pain. Move Qi and Blood.

In Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates Blood

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

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

In Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and promotes the movement of Qi

Read more about Ba Zhen Yi Mu 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, Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and promote Qi movement. The combination of Dong quai and Chuan Xiong facilitates the production of Blood.

Read more about Sheng Yu Tang

Di Gu Pi Yin

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Stops bleeding.

In Di Gu Pi Yin, Chuan Xiong facilitates the flow of Blood through the vessels and alleviates symptoms such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision and pain

Read more about Di Gu Pi Yin

Wu Yao Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Moves Qi. Stops pain. Nourishes Liver Blood. Eliminates Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease and others

In Wu Yao Tang, Chuan Xiong nourishes and invigorates Blood

Read more about Wu Yao Tang

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, Chuan Xiong invigorates 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, Chuan Xiong facilitates the flow of Blood through the vessels, alleviating symptoms such as headache, dizziness, blurred vision and pain.

Read more about Shi Quan Da Bu Tang

Key TCM concepts behind Chuan Xiong's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chuan Xiong belongs to the 'Herbs that invigorate the Blood' category. Like the name indicates these herbs tend to stimulate the Blood flow. In TCM they're used to help the circulation of Blood in cardiovascular conditions or menstrual irregularities as well as to treat acute pains caused by Blood Stagnation. They can also be used to treat Blood Stagnation when it causes certain tumors, cysts and hardened clots.

Furthermore Chuan Xiong is Warm in nature. This means that Chuan Xiong tends 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 Chuan Xiong can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Chuan Xiong also tastes Pungent. 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. Pungent ingredients like Chuan Xiong tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Chuan Xiong is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. 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. The Pericardium is also called the "heart protector". It is the first line of defence for the Heart against external pathogenic influences

Research on Chuan Xiong

Ligusticum chuanxiong could help treat cardiovascular diseases because it contains ligustilide and senkyunolide A which both have vasorelaxation activities.1.

Sources:

1. SSK Chan, TY Cheng, G Lin (2007). Relaxation effects of ligustilide and senkyunolide A, two main constituents of Ligusticum chuanxiong, in rat isolated aorta. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 111(3), p. 677-680. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2006.12.018