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Unprepared Rehmannia

Chinese: 地黄

Pinyin: Dì Huáng

Parts used: Prepared dried root tuber

TCM category: Herbs that cool the Blood

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Sweet

Organ affinity: Heart Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Rehmannia glutinosa

Other names: Sheng Di Huang

Use of unprepared rehmannia (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: Remove impurities, wash, cut in thick slices and dry.

Dosage: 9 - 30 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which unprepared rehmannia may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Palpitations Nosebleed Fever Insomnia Diabetes Dermatitis

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Spleen Qi or Yang Deficiency especially when there is Dampness in conditions such as diarrhea, lack of appetite or Excess Phlegm. It should also be avoided by pregnant women.

Common TCM formulas in which unprepared rehmannia (Di Huang) are used*

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

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, Di Huang strongly enriches the Yin and tonifies the Kidneys. It also cools the Blood to stop the bleeding since, according to Chinese medicine, excessive Heat in the Blood damages the vessels and leads to bleeding.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Conditions targeted*: Perimenopausal syndromeChronic urticaria and others

Di Huang is a king ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Di Huang nourishes the Yin and clears Heat. It enriches the Kidney Yin (water), which is then able to control the disturbance of the Mind (Shen) due to Fire. It is also effective in nourishing the Blood.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

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.

Di Huang is a king ingredient in Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang, Di Huang clears Heat and cools Blood

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

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

In Liang Di Tang, Di Huang nourishes Yin, cools Blood and therefore stops bleeding

Read more about Liang Di Tang

Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Source date: the 18th century

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Improves throat. Resolves toxicity. Clears the Lungs.

Conditions targeted*: DiphtheriaTonsillitis and others

Di Huang is a king ingredient in Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang, Di Huang is sweet, bitter, and cooling. It enriches the Yin Body Fluids to support the normal Qi while cooling the Blood and resolving toxicity to dispel the pathogenic Qi.

Read more about Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Invigorates Blood. Stops bleeding.

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

In Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang, Di Huang nourishes and cools Blood.

Read more about Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic gastritisDiabetes and others

Di Huang is a king ingredient in Yi Wei Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Yi Wei Tang, Di Huang is sweet, cooling and moistening. It addresses both the root (Yin Deficiency) and the branch (internal Heat) of the pattern this formula targets.

Read more about Yi Wei Tang

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Conditions targeted*: Acute leukemiaUremia and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, Di Huang cools the Blood, stops bleeding, nourishes the Yin Fluids, and clears Heat. Nourishing the Yin Fluids is particularly important because they suffer greatly from severe Heat and Blood loss.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Zeng Ye Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin and Essence. Lubricates Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: ConstipationIrritable bowel syndrome and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Zeng Ye Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Zeng Ye Tang, Di Huang nourishes the Yin, clears Heat, and cools the Blood.

Read more about Zeng Ye Tang

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, Di Huang calms the Liver to extinguish Wind

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang 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

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Di Huang cools the Blood and clears Heat. It enables the formula to eliminates Blood Stagnation without harming the Yin and Blood.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Nourishes the Yin and clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic pyelonephritisPulmonary tuberculosis and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang, Di Huang nourishes the Yin and clears Heat from Deficiency.

Read more about Qing Hao Bie Jia Tang

Qing Ying Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Nutritive level Heat. Relieves Fire Toxin. Removes Heat. Nourishes Yin.

Conditions targeted*: Encephalitis BMeningitis and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Qing Ying Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Ying Tang, Di Huang cools the Blood and tonifies Yin

Read more about Qing Ying Tang

Dao Chi San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears the Heart. Promotes urination.

Conditions targeted*: StomatitisOral thrush and others

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Dao Chi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Dao Chi San, Di Huang enters the Heart to cool the Blood as well as the Kidneys to nourish the Yin and generate Fluids (strengthening the Kidney Water), which controls Heart Fire.

Read more about Dao Chi 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

Di Huang 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, Di Huang expels Heat by cooling Blood and tonifies Yin by generating Body Fluids

Read more about Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

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

Di Huang 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

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesPurulent otitis and others

Di Huang is an assistant ingredient in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, Di Huang supplements the Yin to counteract the effect of the  bitter, drying herbs in the formula.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Conditions targeted*: EncephalitisMeningitis and others

Di Huang is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, Di Huang nourishes the Yin and increases the Fluids and thereby softens the Liver and relaxes the sinews.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Conditions targeted*: StomatitisPeriodontitis and others

Read more about Qing Wei San

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, Di Huang nourishes Body Fluids.

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San

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, Di Huang cools and calms Blood and stops bleeding

Read more about Di Gu Pi Yin

Key TCM concepts behind unprepared rehmannia (Di Huang)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), unprepared rehmannia are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that cool the Blood' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that cool the Blood treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category unprepared rehmannia are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that unprepared rehmannia typically help 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 unprepared rehmannia can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Unprepared 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 unprepared 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 unprepared rehmannia are thought to target the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver. In addition to regulating Blood flow, in TCM the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. 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 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 unprepared rehmannia (Di Huang)

Shufeng Liangxue Decoction (consisting of rehmannia root) is effective and safe in treating hormone dependence dermatitis.1

Ziyin Tongbi Decoction (consisting of rehmannia root) is effective and safe for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.2

Sources:

1. Bai YS, Zhou CY, Wang JQ. (2008). Clinical observation on auxiliary treatment of hormone dependence dermatitis by shufeng liangxue decoction. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(12):1121-3.

2. Guo J1, Song CS, Han Q. (2008). Clinical observation on ziyin tongbi decoction in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(12):1082-5.