Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Ginseng (Ren Shen) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Cinnamon bark (Rou Gui)

Bao Yuan Tang

Chinese: 保元汤

Pinyin: Bǎo Yuán Tāng

Other names: Preserve the Primal Decoction

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that tonify Qi

Main actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang

Source date: 1624

Source book: Collected Treatises of[Zhang] ]ing-Yue

Bao Yuan Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1624, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi. Its main action is that it tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

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

The four ingredients in Bao Yuan Tang

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Bao Yuan Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Huang Qi's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Wei Qi and stops perspiration. Tonifies the Spleen Qi and the Yang Qi of the Earth Element. Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Expels pus and assists in the healing of wounds. Helps to regulate water metabolism in the body and reduce edema."

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

2. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Ren Shen's main actions are as follows: "Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit)."

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

3. 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."

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

4. Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Part used: Dried stem bark

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

In general Rou Gui's main actions are as follows: "Warms the Spleen and Kidneys and tonifies the Yang. Expels Cold, Warms the meridians, promotes circulation of Qi and Blood and relieves pain. Used with tonics to assist in the generation of Qi and Blood."

Learn more about Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Conditions and patterns for which Bao Yuan Tang may be prescribed

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

Heart Qi Deficiency

Bao Yuan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath on exertion, pale face and spontaneous sweating. Patients with Heart Qi Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses.

Heart Qi Deficiency includes general signs of Qi deficiency (such as shortness of breath, spontaneous sweating, pale face and fatigue) with the addition of palpitations, which is the characteristic symptom of Heart Qi Deficiency.

"Palpitations" here indicates a subjective feeling of the patient... read more about Heart Qi Deficiency

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

Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

Bao Yuan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, weak voice and aversion to speak. Patients with Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses.

In terms of typical manifestations, Heart Qi Deficiency and Lung Qi Deficiency share many common ones such as spontaneous sweating, fatigue and pale face. The combined Deficiency of both Organs is quite common to be seen as a result of emotional stress such as sadness, grief and worry.  

Other than... read more about Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

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