Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Gastrodia rhizomes (Tian Ma) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Jujube dates (Da Zao)

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Chinese: 半夏白术天麻汤

Pinyin: Bàn Xià Bái Zhú Tiān Má Tāng

Other names: Pinellia White Atractylodes and Gastrodia Decoction, Ban Xia Tian Ma Bai Zhu Tang

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that transform Phlegm and extinguish Wind

Mother formula: Er Chen Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: HypertensionMeniere's diseaseTubercular meningitis and one other condition

  1. Dries and dissolves Phlegm
  2. Strengthens the Spleen
  3. Smoothes the Liver and calms Liver Wind (antispasmodic)

Contraindications: Contraindicated for vertigo from either ascendant Liver Yang or Blood... Contraindicated for vertigo from either ascendant Liver Yang or Blood Deficiency. see more

Source date: 1732 AD

Source book: Awakening of the Mind in Medical Studies

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) and Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1732 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that transform Phlegm and extinguish Wind. Its main actions are: 1) dries and dissolves Phlegm and 2) strengthens the Spleen.

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 Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm or Wind-Phlegm. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as meniere's disease, hypertension or tubercular meningitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eight ingredients in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang helps treat.

The eight ingredients in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Ban Xia is a king ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Ban Xia dries Dampness, transforms Phlegm, and directs Rebellious Qi downward (to treat the nausea and vomiting).

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Tian Ma is a king ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma)

Part used: Dried tuber

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Liver

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Tian Ma enters the Liver Channel to nourish the Yin Fluids, calm the Liver, and extinguish Wind. It is a good complement to Crow-dipper rhizome (Ban Xia) because, without it, its pungent nature could easily stir up even more Wind. This doesn't happen thanks to the moistening character of Gastrodia rhizome which helps extinguish Wind. As the 13th-century physician Li Dong-Yuan wrote in Discussion of the Spleen and Stomach: "Headache due to Phlegm rebelling in the leg greater Yin [Meridian and Organ] cannot be treated without Crow-dipper rhizome (Ban Xia); spots before the eyes and vertigo are due to internal movement of Wind from Deficiency and cannot be eliminated without Gastrodia rhizome (Tian Ma)."

Learn more about Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma)

Bai Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Bai Zhu reinforces the actions of the main ingredients in treating Phlegm. Its sweet warmth tonifies the Spleen, its bitterness dries Dampness, and its aromatic quality supports the transportive and transformative functions of the Spleen. It promotes water metabolism, yet also generates Body Fluids and thereby addresses the Fluids disharmony that is at the heart of the pattern treated by this formula.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp of the ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Chen Pi's main actions are as follows: "Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs."

In the context of Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, it is used because it regulates the Qi by directing excessive Qi downward, transforming and eliminating Phlegm.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Fu Ling's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit."

In the context of Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, it is used because it strengthens the Spleen and leaches out Dampness.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Sheng Jiang is an envoy ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

6. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sheng Jiang's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning."

In the context of Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, it is used because it , together with Jujube dates (Da Zao), harmonizes the Stomach and Spleen.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

7. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Gan Cao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs."

In the context of Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, it is used because it harmonizes the actions of the other herbs and mildly regulates the functions of the Middle-Burner.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

8. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Da Zao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula."

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Conditions and patterns for which Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma 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 Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma 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:

Meniere's disease Hypertension Tubercular meningitis Benign positional vertigo

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang treats meniere's disease" for instance. Rather, Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind meniere's disease.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang.

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

Phlegm

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as chest pressure, nausea, dizziness and feeling of heaviness. Patients with Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick coating.

Phlegm has a great importance in Chinese Medicine as it is both a condition in and of itself as well as a cause for other diseases.

The main cause for the formation of Phlegm is Spleen Deficiency since the Spleen rules the transformation and transportation of Body Fluids. If this function is... read more about Phlegm

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

Wind-Phlegm

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Wind-Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea or vomiting, aphasia and coughing of phlegm. Patients with Wind-Phlegm typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating.

Also known as an "upward disturbance of Wind-Phlegm", Wind-Phlegm particularly affects those who overwork, overindulge in rich foods or otherwise lead an irregular lifestyle.

These activities injure the Spleen and Stomach, which in turn impairs their functions of transforming foods, and  thus leads... read more about Wind-Phlegm

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