Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Houpu Magnolia bark (Hou Pu) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Perilla leaves (Zi Su Ye)

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Chinese: 半夏厚朴汤

Pinyin: Bàn Xià Hòu Pǔ Tāng

Other names: Pinellia and Magnolia Bark Decoction

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that promote Qi movement

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: GoiterNeurosisHysteria and twelve other conditions

  1. Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm
  2. Clears Phlegm

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) and Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote Qi movement. Its main actions are: 1) regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm and 2) 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 Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Stomach Qi Stagnation, Heart Qi Stagnation or Pericardium Qi Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as menopausal syndrome, morning sickness or globus hystericus for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the five ingredients in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang helps treat.

The five ingredients in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Ban Xia is a king ingredient in Ban Xia Hou Pu 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 transforms Phlegm, dissipates clumps, directs Rebellious Qi downward, and harmonizes the Stomach. It thereby addresses all the major aspects of Phlegm-Qi.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Hou Pu is a king ingredient in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Part used: Dried stem bark, root bark or branch bark

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Hou Pu eliminates the stifling sensation and assists the other key herb (Crow-dipper rhizome) in dissipating the clumps and directing the Rebellious Qi downward. Its ability to regulate the Qi and dry Dampness supports Crow-dipper rhizome in transforming the Phlegm.

Learn more about Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Fu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Fu Ling leaches out Dampness and assists Crow-dipper rhizome, the key herb in this formula, in transforming Phlegm.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Zi Su Ye is a deputy ingredient in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Perilla Leaves (Zi Su Ye)

Part used: Dried leaf (or bearing young branches)

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Zi Su Ye reinforces the ability of Houpu Magnolia bark (Hou Po), one of the key herbs in this formula, to regulate the Qi and break up Stagnation. Entering the Lungs, which govern the throat, the place where the main symptom of Qi-Phlegm is located, this herb also serves as the envoy. It also helps focus the action of the formula on the Lungs Channel and relieves coughing, should it occur.

Learn more about Perilla Leaves (Zi Su Ye)

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

5. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Sheng Jiang helps the key herbs in the formula harmonize the Stomach and thereby stops the vomiting, should it occur.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Conditions and patterns for which Ban Xia Hou Pu 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 Hou Pu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat eight 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:

Menopausal syndrome Morning sickness Globus hystericus Neurosis Neurogenic vomiting Irritable bowel syndrome Hysteria Psychosis Laryngitis Tonsillitis Edema of the vocal cords Goiter Hyperthyroid Esophageal strictures Esophageal spasms

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang treats menopausal syndrome" for instance. Rather, Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind menopausal syndrome.

Now let's look at the eight patterns commonly treated with Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang.

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

Stomach Qi Stagnation

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as epigastric pain, epigastric distension, belching and nausea. Patients with Stomach Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.

Epigastric distension is the cardinal symptom of Stomach-Qi Stagnation.

The Qi Stagnation in the Middle Burner (the Stomach is part of the Middle Burner) also causes Stomach-Qi to ascend and this causes belching, nausea, vomiting and hiccups. Irritability is due to Stagnation of Qi.

read more about Stomach Qi Stagnation

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

Heart Qi Stagnation

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as throat lumps, shortness of breath, frequent sighing and poor appetite. Patients with Heart Qi Stagnation typically exhibit overflowing (Hong) or empty (Xu) pulses.

The symptoms of slight feeling of throat lump, the feeling of chest distension, frequent sighing and purple lips all indicate a certain degree of general Qi Stagnation

As for the specific Heart Qi Stagnation, slight short breath is the typical symptom.  

Pale face here is caused by stagnant Heart... read more about Heart Qi Stagnation

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

Pericardium Qi Stagnation

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Pericardium Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, purple lips, pale complexion and mild chest pain. Patients with Pericardium Qi Stagnation typically exhibit overflowing (Hong) or empty (Xu) pulses.

Pericardium is located in the center of the chest and it plays the connecting role for both the Heart and the Lung's Qi and Blood. Therefore, sighing and slightly shortness of breath are due to the chest Qi Stagnation of the Lung Channel.  On the other hand, the Pericardium Channel's Qi Stagnation... read more about Pericardium Qi Stagnation

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

Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach. This pattern leads to symptoms such as irritability, epigastric pain, epigastric distension and hypochondrial pain. Patients with Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach typically exhibit weak (Ruo) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

Liver Qi is said to be rebellious when its horizontal movement is accentuated. This interferes with the descending of Stomach Qi, making it ascend instead. Hence the symptoms of belching, nausea and vomiting.

Rebellious Liver Qi also impairs the Stomach's function of rotting and ripening of food,... read more about Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach

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

Stomach Qi rebelling upwards

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Symptoms: Nausea Belching Vomiting Hiccuping Difficulty swallowing

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Qi rebelling upwards. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea, difficulty swallowing, belching and vomiting. Patients with Stomach Qi rebelling upwards typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

When the Qi of the Stomach is obstructed or interfered with it "rebels", meaning it ascends rather than descends.

It results in symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, belching and hiccups.

This frequently appears with other patterns, such as Stomach Fire, Stomach Qi Stagnation or Cold invading the... read more about Stomach Qi rebelling upwards

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

Phlegm

Ban Xia Hou Pu 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

Qi is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Qi in Chinese Medicine

Qi-Phlegm

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi-Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry cough, feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes, difficulty swallowing and a feeling of oppression in chest and epigastrium. Patients with Qi-Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Also often called "plum-stone" or "plum-pit" (梅核, Méi Hé) syndrome or "globus hystericus" in modern medicine, the main characteristic of Qi-Phlegm is a feeling of something caught in the throat that can neither be swallowed nor ejected.

It is the result of a situation that affects the patient... read more about Qi-Phlegm

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

Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach. This pattern leads to symptoms such as belching, abdominal distension, epigastric distension and depression. Patients with Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with thick coating.

Learn more about Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach

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