Lily bulbs (Bai He) Prepared rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) Dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong) Ningpo figwort roots (Xuan Shen) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Platycodon roots (Jie Geng) Fritillary bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Chinese: 百合固金汤

Pinyin: Bǎi Hé Gù Jīn Tāng

Other names: Lily Bulb Decoction to Consolidate the Lungs, Lily Bulb Decoction to Preserve the Metal

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that nourish Yin and tonify

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AsthmaSilicosisCorpulmonale and five other conditions

  1. Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin
  2. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm

Contraindications: This formula should be used with caution or modified in patients with Spleen... This formula should be used with caution or modified in patients with Spleen Deficiency or food Stagnation. Failure to do so may result in indigestion or diarrhea. It should not be used for patients with Exterior conditions. see more

Source date: 1573 AD

Source book: Writings for Posterity of [Zhou] Shen-Zhai

Bai He Gu Jin Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Lily Bulbs (Bai He), Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1573 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify. Its main actions are: 1) nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin and 2) lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

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 Bai He Gu Jin Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Body Fluids Deficiency, Lung Dryness or Lung Yin Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as absence of menstruation, chronic bronchitis or chronic pharyngitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the ten ingredients in Bai He Gu Jin Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Bai He Gu Jin Tang helps treat.

The ten ingredients in Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Bai He 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.

1. Lily Bulbs (Bai He)

Part used: Dried fleshly scale leaves of the bulb

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

In general Bai He's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and stops cough due to either Lung Yin Deficiency or Lung-Heat. Clears Heat from the Heart and calms the Spirit (Shen)."

In the context of Bai He Gu Jin Tang, it is used because it moistens and nourishes Dryness in the Lungs, and clears Heat.

Learn more about Lily Bulbs (Bai He)

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.

2. 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

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.

Learn more about Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

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.

3. Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

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.

Learn more about Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Part used: Dried root tuber

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

Mai Dong is an important herb for tonifying the Yin, especially that of the Upper Burner. It also assist Lily bulb (Bai He) and the other two key herbs with their actions on the Lungs.

Learn more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Xuan Shen is a deputy ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Ningpo Figwort Roots (Xuan Shen)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: StomachLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Xuan Shen helps the Kidney water ascend to the Lungs and is very efficient at clearing Fire from Deficiency and treating steaming bone condition.

Learn more about Ningpo Figwort Roots (Xuan Shen)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui , together with White peony roots, another assistant herb, nourish the Blood to support the Yin. Also they together protect the Lungs from violation thanks to their action of calming the Liver.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Jie Geng is an assistant ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Jie Geng facilitates the movement of Lung Qi and stops coughing, especially when combined with Fritillary bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu), as is the case here.

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Chuan Bei Mu is an assistant ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Part used: Dried bulb

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

In general Chuan Bei Mu's main actions are as follows: "Clears Hot Phlegm and stops cough. Clears Lung Heat caused by Yin Deficiency. Clears Heat and reduces hard lumps and swellings."

In the context of Bai He Gu Jin Tang, it is used because it moistens the Lungs, transforms Phlegm, and stops coughing.

Learn more about Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Bai He Gu Jin Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

9. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao harmonizes the actions of the other herbs and, in combination with Platycodon root (Jie Geng), improves the status of the throat.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

10. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Bai Shao , together with Dong quoi, another assistant herb, nourish the Blood to support the Yin. Also they together protect the Lungs from violation thanks to their action of calming the Liver.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Conditions and patterns for which Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 Bai He Gu Jin Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat four 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:

Absence of menstruation Chronic bronchitis Chronic pharyngitis Spontaneous pneumothorax Corpulmonale Silicosis Pulmonary tuberculosis Asthma

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Bai He Gu Jin Tang treats absence of menstruation" for instance. Rather, Bai He Gu Jin Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind absence of menstruation.

Now let's look at the four patterns commonly treated with Bai He Gu Jin Tang.

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Body Fluids Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue shape: Cracked

Symptoms: Dry skin Dry nose Dry lips Dry cough Dry tongue Dry stools Dry throat

Bai He Gu Jin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Body Fluids Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry tongue, dry skin, dry nose and dry cough. Patients with Body Fluids Deficiency typically exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses.

Body Fluids are all the fluids in the body, except from Blood. This means that their Deficiency will inevitable result in various symptoms of Dryness. Typical symptoms include dry skin, dry mouth, dry nose, dry cough, dry lips and dry tongue.

A Deficiency of Body Fluids can cause Yin Deficiency... read more about Body Fluids Deficiency

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

Lung Dryness

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Symptoms: Thirst Dry skin Dry cough Dry throat Hoarse voice

Bai He Gu Jin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung Dryness. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry cough, dry throat, dry skin and hoarse voice. Patients with Lung Dryness typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses.

Lung Dryness is often accompanied by Body Fluids Deficiency and thus the symptoms of dry throat, dry cough and hoarse voice. 

It is a stage before Lung Yin Deficiency but has not yet developed into this more severe pattern. 

read more about Lung Dryness

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

Lung Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Symptoms: Insomnia Red lips Dry cough Dry mouth Tiredness Weak voice Dry throat Depression Blood spit Chest pain Malar flush Night sweats Frequent sighing Hot palms and soles Shortness of breath Thin body lacking strength

Bai He Gu Jin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry cough, weak voice, dry mouth and dry throat. Patients with Lung Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of coating.

Exterior Heat and Dryness can invade the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. If it is not dealt with for a long time, it leads to Lung Yin Deficiency. Other factors can cause this pattern such as the Deficiency of Kidneys or Stomach Yin as well as prolonged Lung Qi Deficiency due to excessive... read more about Lung Yin Deficiency

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

Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Symptoms: Wheezing Dry throat Night sweats Hot palms and soles Coughing with blood-streaked sputum

Bai He Gu Jin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing with blood-streaked sputum, wheezing, dry throat and hot palms and soles. Patients with Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a red tongue with partial absence of coating.

Learn more about Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire

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