Hawthorn berries (Shan Zha) Medicated leaven (Shen Qu) Radish seeds (Lai Fu Zi) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi)

Bao He Wan

Chinese: 保和丸

Pinyin: Bǎo Hé Wán

Other names: Preserve Harmony Pill, Preserving and Harmonizing Pill

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that reduce food accumulation and transform Stagnation

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: PancreatisCholecystitisGastroenteritis and one other condition

  1. Reduces food stagnation
  2. Harmonizes the Stomach

Contraindications: This formula is contraindicated in cases with Spleen deficiency.

Source date: 1481 AD

Source book: Essential Teachings of Dan-Xi

Bao He Wan is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Hawthorn Berries (Shan Zha) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1481 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that reduce food accumulation and transform Stagnation. Its main actions are: 1) reduces food stagnation and 2) harmonizes the Stomach.

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 Bao He Wan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Food Stagnation in the Stomach. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as gastroenteritis, chronic gastritis or pancreatis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the seven ingredients in Bao He Wan, we review the patterns and conditions that Bao He Wan helps treat.

The seven ingredients in Bao He Wan

Shan Zha is a king ingredient in Bao He Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Hawthorn Berries (Shan Zha)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

Shan Zha awakens the Spleen, unbinds the Stomach, promotes food intake, and assists digestion. It is particularly useful for problems due to overindulgence in meat and greasy foods.

Learn more about Hawthorn Berries (Shan Zha)

Shen Qu is a deputy ingredient in Bao He Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Medicated Leaven (Shen Qu)

Part used: This is a fermented combination of wheat flour, Artemisia annua, Xanthium, Polygonum hydropiper and other herbs.

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

Shen Qu is especially useful in reducing the stagnant accumulation of alcohol and food. It directs Qi downward to transform Phlegm, warms the Stomach to transform thin mucus, and strengthens the Spleen to alleviate diarrhea and distention.

Learn more about Medicated Leaven (Shen Qu)

Lai Fu Zi is a deputy ingredient in Bao He Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Radish Seeds (Lai Fu Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

In general Lai Fu Zi's main actions are as follows: "Warms the digestion and unblocks Food Stagnation. Reverses Rebellious Lung Qi and transforms Phlegm"

In the context of Bao He Wan, it is used because it reduces the accumulation of Phlegm from stagnant grains and at facilitating the flow of Qi.

Learn more about Radish Seeds (Lai Fu Zi)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Bao He Wan. 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

Chen Pi promotes the movement of Qi and transform stagnation, thereby harmonizing the Stomach to stop the nausea and vomiting

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Bao He Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. 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 promotes the movement of Qi and transform stagnation, thereby harmonizing the Stomach to stop the nausea and vomiting

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Bao He 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 strengthens the Spleen and leaches out Dampness, thereby harmonizing the Middle Burner to stop the diarrhea

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Bao He Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Part used: Dried fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

Lian Qiao addresses the Heat generated from food stagnation and also for its ability to disperse and penetrate, which makes it a valuable herb for treating Phlegm-Heat.

Learn more about Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Bao He Wan is used to treat Food Stagnation in the Stomach

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 Bao He Wan is mostly used to treat the pattern "Food Stagnation in the Stomach" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Food Stagnation in the Stomach here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Gastroenteritis Chronic gastritis Pancreatis Cholecystitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Bao He Wan treats gastroenteritis" for instance. Rather, Bao He Wan is used to treat Food Stagnation in the Stomach, which is sometimes the root cause behind gastroenteritis.

Now let's look at Food Stagnation in the Stomach, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Bao He Wan.

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

Food Stagnation in the Stomach

Bao He Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Food Stagnation in the Stomach. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fullness and pain of the epigastrium which are relieved by vomiting, nausea, vomiting of sour fluids and foul breath. Patients with Food Stagnation in the Stomach typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or full (Shi) pulses.

This pattern tends to mostly occur in children or babies whose Stomach and Spleen are weak and food therefore tends to accumulate.

Adults can be affected too: most people can probably remember overeating a holiday meal with the accompanying bloating, belching, pain and poor sleep that resulted.

The... read more about Food Stagnation in the Stomach

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