Prepared rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) Cornelian cherries (Shan Zhu Yu) Yam (Shan Yao) Water plantain (Ze Xie) Mudan peony bark (Mu Dan Pi) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) Cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi)

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Chinese: 八味地黄丸

Pinyin: Bā Wèi Dì Huáng Wán

Other names: Eight-Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia, Rehmannia Eight Combination

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that nourish Yin and tonify

Mother formula: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: EdemaEczemaCystitis and twenty two other conditions

  1. Tonifies Yang
  2. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with symptoms of Excess Heat or Yin Deficiency.... Contraindicated for patients with symptoms of Excess Heat or Yin Deficiency. Avoid using for individuals with gastrointestinal weakness. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies Yang and 2) warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

In Chinese Medicine health conditions are thought to arise due to "disharmonies" in the body as a system. These disharmonies are called "patterns" and the very purpose of herbal formulas is to fight them in order to restore the body's harmony.

In this case Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang, Kidney Yang Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as abnormal vaginal discharge, diabetes mellitus or diabetes insipidus for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eight ingredients in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, we review the patterns and conditions that Ba Wei Di Huang Wan helps treat.

The eight ingredients in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

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.

1. Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Shu Di huang's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys."

In the context of Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, it is used because it strongly enriches the Kidney Yin and Essence.

Learn more about Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Shan Zhu Yu is a deputy ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Cornelian Cherries (Shan Zhu Yu)

Part used: Dried ripe sarcocarp

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sour

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Shan Zhu Yu nourishes the Liver and restrains the leakage of Essence. It performs the latter function by inhibiting the improper dispersion and drainage through the Liver, thereby enabling the Essence to build up in the Kidneys. For this to occur, a substance with the strong, Essence building properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) is also required.

Learn more about Cornelian Cherries (Shan Zhu Yu)

Shan Yao is a deputy ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Yam (Shan Yao)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Shan Yao stabilizes the Essence by tonifying the Spleen. Indeed, to reinforce Essence and improve its function, the Spleen (the source of postnatal Essence) must function properly.

Learn more about Yam (Shan Yao)

Ze Xie is an assistant ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Water Plantain (Ze Xie)

Part used: Dried tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: BladderKidney

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Ze Xie clears and drains the overabundance of Kidney Fire. It is used here to prevent the rich, cloying properties of the key herb (Prepared rehmannia) from congesting the mechanisms of the Kidneys, which would induce even more Heat from Deficiency.

Learn more about Water Plantain (Ze Xie)

Mu Dan Pi is an assistant ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi)

Part used: Root barks

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Mu Dan Pi clears and drains Liver Fire and is used here to counterbalance the warm properties of Cornelian cherries (Shan Zhu Yu).

Learn more about Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Fu Ling is a bland herb that leaches out Dampness from the Spleen. Here it notably helps Yam (Shan Yao) strengthen the transportive functions of the Spleen. This prevents the formula from clogging up the digestive process and reinforces the Spleen's function of nourishing the body. Poria-cocos mushrooms also works together with the Water plantain (Ze Xie) to improve the metabolism of Fluids and promote urination, thereby preventing a buildup of stagnant fluids.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

7. Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Part used: Processed daughter root

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidney

Category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

In general Zhi Fu Zi's main actions are as follows: "Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang."

Learn more about Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

8. Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi)

Part used: Dried young branches

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Gui Zhi's main actions are as follows: "Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood."

Learn more about Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi)

Conditions and patterns for which Ba Wei Di Huang Wan may be prescribed

It's important to remember that herbal formulas are meant to treat patterns, not "diseases" as understood in Western Medicine. According to Chinese Medicine patterns, which are disruptions to the body as a system, are the underlying root cause for diseases and conditions.

As such Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is used by TCM practitioners to treat three different patterns which we describe below.

But before we delve into these patterns here is an overview of the Western conditions they're commonly associated with:

Abnormal vaginal discharge Diabetes mellitus Diabetes insipidus Hypertension Hyperaldosteronism Addison's disease Hypothyroidism Arteriosclerosis Edema Cystitis Chronic nephritis Kidney stones Albuminuria Chronic bronchitis Rectal prolapse Chronic gonorrhea Arthritis Menopausal syndrome Eczema Vaginal itching Urticaria Neurasthenia Cataract Glaucoma Keratities

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ba Wei Di Huang Wan treats abnormal vaginal discharge" for instance. Rather, Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind abnormal vaginal discharge.

Now let's look at the three patterns commonly treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan.

'Yang' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Yang in Chinese Medicine

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang. This pattern leads to symptoms such as feeling of cold, desire warmth, pale urine and undigested food in the stools. Patients with Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang typically exhibit deep (Chen), empty (Xu), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as Pale, swollen and moist tongue with possible white or wet coating.

Yang Deficiency is an Empty-Cold condition characterized by Coldness and Deficiency. If there is inadequate amount of Yang energy to warm the body or internal Organs, a general hypoactivity of the organic processes occurs, hence the patient is tried and not willing to move.  Qi and Blood is more... read more about Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Asthma Chills Fatigue Dysuria Tinnitus Coughing Dizziness Weak legs Lassitude Impotence Sore back Pale face Back pain Dark face Tiredness Knee pain Depression Cold limbs Leukorrhea Weak Limbs Weak knees Infertility Loose teeth Late period Hot flushes Poor memory Loose stools Incontinence Night sweats Spermatorrhea Poor appetite Oedema of legs Abdominal pain Dripping urine Scanty periods Lower back pain Feeling of cold Low sperm count Sore lower back Premature aging Decreased libido Aversion to cold Cold extremities Oedema of ankles Vaginal discharge Frequent urination Urinary difficulty Pale color periods Abdominal fullness Cold and weak knees Persistent diarrhea Nocturnal emissions Cold hands and feet Premature menopause Infertility in women Night time urination Pale menstrual blood Premature ejaculation Incontinence of urine Prostatic hypertrophy Bright-white complexion Absence of menstruation Thin and watery periods Lower abdominal pressure Pale and abudant urination Thin body lacking strength Loss of hearing or deafness Spasms of the lower abdomen Cold in the lower extremities Edema of the lower extremities Weakness and aching in the knees Exhaustion from long-term illness Weakness of the lower extremities Thin and watery vaginal discharge Nocturnal emissions without dreams Sensation of cold in the lower back Soreness and weakness in the lower back Cold sensation in the lower half of the body

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as lower back pain, dizziness, tinnitus and cold and weak knees. Patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as Pale tongue.

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness. It indicates that the Fire of the Gate of Life, which is located between the two Kidneys and supplies fundamental warmth for the body, is also impaired.  Therefore, the Organs lack warmth and cannot fully perform their... read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as sweating, back pain, diminished hearing and dry mouth and throat at night. Patients with Kidney Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as Red tongue without coating, cracked in severe cases.

This pattern often accompanies Kidney Essence Deficiency, as Kidney Yin includes Essence. When both element are depleted in the Kidneys, not enough Marrow is generated to fill the Brain, thus the symptoms of dizziness, tinnitus, vertigo and poor memory. The dizziness is mild and the tinnitus is... read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency

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