Cocklebur fruits (Cang Er Zi ) Biond’s magnolia flowers (Xin Yi Hua) Angelica roots (Bai Zhi) Wild mint (Bo He)

Chinese: 苍耳子散

Pinyin: Cāng Er Zǐ Sàn

Other names: Xanthium Powder

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dredge and disperse External Wind

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Acute rhinitisAcute sinusitisChronic rhinitis and two other conditions

  1. Disperses Wind
  2. Relieves pain
  3. Unblocks the nose

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with headache due to Blood Deficiency.

Source date: 1253

Source book: Formulas to Aid the Living

Cang Er Zi San is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Cocklebur Fruits (Cang Er Zi ) and Biond’S Magnolia Flowers (Xin Yi Hua) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1253, it belongs to the category of formulas that dredge and disperse External Wind. Its main actions are: 1) disperses Wind and 2) relieves pain.

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 Cang Er Zi San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Damp-Wind. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as acute sinusitis, chronic sinusitis or chronic rhinitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the five ingredients in Cang Er Zi San, we review the patterns and conditions that Cang Er Zi San helps treat.

The five ingredients in Cang Er Zi San

Cang Er Zi is a king ingredient in Cang Er Zi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Cocklebur Fruits (Cang Er Zi )

Part used: Fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

Cang Er Zi is acrid and warm. It unblocks the
nasal passages, and are frequently used in treating profuse nasal discharge.

Learn more about Cocklebur Fruits (Cang Er Zi )

Xin Yi Hua is a king ingredient in Cang Er Zi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Biond’S Magnolia Flowers (Xin Yi Hua)

Part used: Dried flower bud

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Xin Yi Hua is acrid and warm. It unblocks the
nasal passages, and are frequently used in treating profuse nasal discharge.

Learn more about Biond’S Magnolia Flowers (Xin Yi Hua)

Bai Zhi is a deputy ingredient in Cang Er Zi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Bai Zhi is acrid, warming, and aromatic. It releases the Exterior and opens up the orifices, disperses Wind-Damp, and
promotes the discharge of pus.

Learn more about Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Bo He is an assistant ingredient in Cang Er Zi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Wild Mint (Bo He)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Bo He's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat from the head, eyes and throat. Allows the release of toxins from the skin. Moves Stagnant Liver Qi"

In the context of Cang Er Zi San, it is used because it is acrid and cooling. It releases Wind-Heat from the Exterior and clears the eyes and head.

Learn more about Wild Mint (Bo He)

Cong Bai is an envoy ingredient in Cang Er Zi San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

5. Scallions (Cong Bai)

Part used: Bulb

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungStomach

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Cong Bai's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Cold through sweating. Vitalizes the Yang Qi and disperses Cold. Removes toxicity of swellings."

In the context of Cang Er Zi San, it is used because it guides the light nature of the other herbs to the head.

Learn more about Scallions (Cong Bai)

Cang Er Zi San is used to treat Damp-Wind

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 Cang Er Zi San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Damp-Wind" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Damp-Wind here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Acute sinusitis Chronic sinusitis Chronic rhinitis Allergic rhinitis Acute rhinitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Cang Er Zi San treats acute sinusitis" for instance. Rather, Cang Er Zi San is used to treat Damp-Wind, which is sometimes the root cause behind acute sinusitis.

Now let's look at Damp-Wind, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Cang Er Zi San.

Wind is one of the pathogenic factors in Chinese Medicine. Learn more about Wind in Chinese Medicine

Damp-Wind

Cang Er Zi San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Wind. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aversion to cold, fever, swollen neck glands and nausea. Patients with Damp-Wind typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or floating (Fu) pulses.

This pattern indicates the early stage of Exterior Wind and Dampness invasion. When there is Dampness obstructing the Connecting channels, it gives rise to swollen glands in the neck. When it obstructs the joints, it leads to pain there. It can also cause muscle ache and feeling of heaviness if the... read more about Damp-Wind

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