Gypsum (Shi Gao) Anemarrhena rhizomes (Zhi Mu) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Nonglutinous japonica rice (Jing Mi)

Bai Hu Tang

Chinese: 白虎湯

Pinyin: Bái Hǔ Tāng

Other names: White Tiger Decoction

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Qi-level Heat

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: FeverTyphoidMeasles and nine other conditions

  1. Clears Qi-level Heat
  2. Drains Stomach Fire
  3. Generates fluids
  4. Alleviates thirst

Contraindications: Careful follow-up is advised with this very cold formula. Use of this formula... Careful follow-up is advised with this very cold formula. Use of this formula should immediately stop if signs of headache, stiffness of the neck, icy-cold limbs, subjective sensations of cold, or impairment of mental faculties occur. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage

Bai Hu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Gypsum (Shi Gao) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Qi-level Heat. Its main actions are: 1) clears Qi-level Heat and 2) drains Stomach Fire.

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 Hu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Stomach Heat or Toxic-Heat. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as meningitis, scarlet fever or fever for instance.

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

The four ingredients in Bai Hu Tang

Shi Gao is a king ingredient in Bai Hu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Gypsum (Shi Gao)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

Shi Gao clears Heat from the Interior, vents Pathogenic Heat to the Exterior and release Heat stagnating in the muscle layer and skin. It also moistens and enriches the Yin to support the generation of Body Fluids.

Learn more about Gypsum (Shi Gao)

Zhi Mu is a deputy ingredient in Bai Hu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

Zhi Mu clears Heat from the Lungs and Stomach to alleviate irritability, moistens Dryness, and enriches the Yin

Learn more about Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Bai Hu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. 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 benefits the Stomach and protect the Fluids. It also helps prevent the extremely Cold properties of the other ingredients from injuring the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Jing Mi is an envoy ingredient in Bai Hu Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

4. Nonglutinous Japonica Rice (Jing Mi)

Part used: Seed kernels

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Jing Mi benefits the Stomach and protect the Fluids. It also helps prevent the extremely Cold properties of the other ingredients from injuring the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Nonglutinous Japonica Rice (Jing Mi)

Conditions and patterns for which Bai Hu 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 Hu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat two 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:

Meningitis Scarlet fever Fever Diabetes Gingivitis Encephalitis B Influenza Typhoid Measles Dermatitis Periodontitis Stomatitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Bai Hu Tang treats meningitis" for instance. Rather, Bai Hu Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind meningitis.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Bai Hu Tang.

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

Stomach Heat

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu)

Symptoms: Red face Delirium High fever Irritability Intense thirst Feeling of heat Profuse sweating

Bai Hu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as high fever, profuse sweating, intense thirst and red face. Patients with Stomach Heat typically exhibit overflowing (Hong) or rapid (Shu) pulses.

Within the framework of the Six Stages theory, this is one of the two patterns of the Bright Yang stage (the second of the six stages). Within the Four Levels theory, this is one of the five patterns of the Qi level (the second of the four levels).

It corresponds to a penetration of an External... read more about Stomach Heat

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

Toxic-Heat

Bai Hu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Toxic-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as thirst, dark urine, constipation and coughing. Patients with Toxic-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses.

There are two types of Toxic-Heat. One type is called Toxic-Heat Stagnation, which mainly happens in Channels or other surfaces like skins, throat, lymph or mouth. The symptoms include pain, redness and swollen in throat as well as skin pustule and rush. Acne during teenage time is mainly due to... read more about Toxic-Heat

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