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, 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

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Empty (Xu), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Fatigue Pale face Low energy Cold limbs Infertility Fear of cold Loose stools Abdominal pain

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as pale face, fear of cold, fatigue and low energy. Patients with Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen), empty (Xu), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

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 and Qi and Blood is more likely to stagnate. Also, Body Fluids can accumulate... read more about Yang Deficiency

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as abdominal pain, sore lower back, cold limbs and edema. Patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

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 functions.... 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 tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and night sweats. Patients with Kidney Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of coating.

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can also lead to an insufficient amount of Marrow to fill the Brain, causing poor memory and dizziness. Yin Deficiency of the Kidneys is... read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency

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