Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Ginseng (Ren Shen) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Bupleurum roots (Chai Hu) Bugbane rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Chinese: 补中益气汤

Pinyin: Bǔ Zhōng Yì Qì Tāng

Other names: Tonify the Middle to Augment the Qi Decoction, Ginseng and Astragalus Combination

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that tonify Qi

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: ChyluriaArrhythmiaLeukorrhea and sixteen other conditions

  1. Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)
  2. Raises the Yang
  3. Detoxifies
  4. Lifts what has sunken

Contraindications: Contraindicated for fever due to Heat from Yin Deficiency or for excess... Contraindicated for fever due to Heat from Yin Deficiency or for excess disorders caused by the contraction of external pathogens. Not recommended for all types of prolapse, but only in those due to Qi Deficiency. see more

Source date: 1247

Source book: Clarifying Doubts about Damage from Internal and External Causes

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1247, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner) and 2) raises the Yang.

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 Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Qi Deficiency, Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking or Spleen Qi Sinking. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding, heavy menstruation or early menstruation for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the ten ingredients in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang helps treat.

The ten ingredients in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi 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

Huang Qi strongly tonifies Qi and raises the Yang Qi of the Spleen and Stomach. It also prevents further Qi loss through leakage to the outside.

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Bai Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Bai Zhu's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi."

In the context of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, it is used because it is sweet and warm and tonify the Qi of the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Ren Shen is a deputy ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen tonifies the Qi of the Middle Burner, like the other two deputy herbs (Atractylodes rhizome and Liquorice). It is worth mentioning that Ginseng being often prohibitively expensive, it is commonly substituted for Codonopsis root (Dang Shen) which has similar attributes and is much cheaper.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Gan Cao is a deputy ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. 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 Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, it is used because it is sweet and warm and tonify the Qi of the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Dang Gui's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation."

In the context of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, it is used because it tonifies the Qi in the Blood.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. 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 facilitates the digestion of the formula's tonifying herbs and therefore increases their effectiveness.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Chai Hu is an envoy ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

7. Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiver

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Chai Hu's main actions are as follows: "Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang."

In the context of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, it is used because it smoothes the Liver Qi flow, relieves constraint, and rises the clear Yang.

Learn more about Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Sheng Ma is an envoy ingredient in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

8. Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestineLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sheng Ma's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior, scatters Wind and clears Heat. Allows the release of toxicity from the skin and clears Heat. Raises the Yang associated with Middle Qi Deficiency. Directs herbs upwards. Cools the Blood."

In the context of Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, it is used because it helps raise the sunken Yang Qi, together with Bupleurum root (Chai Hu) - the formula's other envoy..

Learn more about Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

9. 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)

10. 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."

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Conditions and patterns for which Bu Zhong Yi Qi 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 Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat ten 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:

Abnormal uterine bleeding Heavy menstruation Early menstruation Absence of menstruation Abnormal vaginal discharge Chronic hepatitis Arrhythmia Hypertension Chronic bronchitis Chronic rhinitis Apthous ulcers Chronic laryngitis Uterine prolapse Rectal prolapse Gastroptosis Hernial pain Urinary incontinence Leukorrhea Chyluria

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang treats abnormal uterine bleeding" for instance. Rather, Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind abnormal uterine bleeding.

Now let's look at the ten patterns commonly treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang.

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

Qi Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, weak voice, spontaneous sweating and poor appetite. Patients with Qi Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

When Qi is Deficient, it typically appears as tiredness or weakness in the body. Since Qi is lacking, it is unable to perform any of its functions. Some of the symptoms for Qi Deficiency also commonly apply for other conditions. The overall differentiating symptoms for Qi Deficiency, however, is... read more about Qi Deficiency

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

Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking. This pattern leads to symptoms such as diarrhea, tiredness, incontinence and hemorrhoids. Patients with Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Qi Collapse (or "Qi Sinking") is a form of Qi Deficiency so on top of the symptoms specific to it (such as the prolapse of the Organs) there can be any of the other symptoms of Qi Deficiency. The treatment however, contrary to Qi Deficiency, necessitates not only to tonify but also to raise... read more about Qi Collapsing or Qi Sinking

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

Spleen Qi Sinking

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen Qi Sinking. This pattern leads to symptoms such as feeling of bearing down, poor appetite, tiredness and lassitude. Patients with Spleen Qi Sinking typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

The causes of Spleen Qi Sinking is quite similar to the ones of Spleen Qi Deficiency, which are unbalanced diet, unhealthy eating habits, emotional stress or Damp environment. Other than these, people who have to stand up for long hours every day have a tendency to contract this pattern. 

When the... read more about Spleen Qi Sinking

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Fatigue Cold limbs Weak Limbs Loose stools Poor appetite Feeling of cold Vagina discharge

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as cold limbs, feeling of cold, loose stools and edema. Patients with Spleen Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Generally speaking, Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe, with additional Cold symptoms, such as a cold feeling and cold limbs. It is because Spleen Yang fails to warm the body and Organs. Because of that, the body metabolism get... read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency

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

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as early periods, pale menstrual blood, lower back pain and dizziness. Patients with Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

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

Phlegm in the Uterus

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in the Uterus. This pattern leads to symptoms such as menstruation decreases gratually, overweight, vagina discharge and feeling of heaviness. Patients with Phlegm in the Uterus typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a normal (light red) tongue.

Learn more about Phlegm in the Uterus

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

Spleen Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Tiredness Dull face Sore back Depression Cold limbs Amenorrhea Weak Limbs Loose stools Poor appetite White vaginal discharge Sticky vaginal discharge

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as sticky vaginal discharge, tiredness, depression and cold limbs. Patients with Spleen Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

Learn more about Spleen Deficiency

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

Qi Deficiency Fever

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Aversion to cold Spontaneous sweating Thirst for warm drinks Intermittent fever that worsens upon exertion

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi Deficiency Fever. This pattern leads to symptoms such as intermittent fever that worsens upon exertion, spontaneous sweating, aversion to cold and thirst for warm drinks. Patients with Qi Deficiency Fever typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Qi Deficiency Fever

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

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dizziness, unsteadiness, blurred vision and deafness. Patients with Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

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