Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) Rhubarb (Da Huang) Wild ginger (Xi Xin)

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Chinese: 大黄附子汤

Pinyin: Dà Huáng Fù Zǐ Tāng

Other names: Rhubarb and Aconite Accessory Root Decoction, Rhubarb and Prepared Aconite Decoction

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that warm and purge

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: StiesEczemaOrchitis and fifteen other conditions

  1. Warms the Interior
  2. Disperses Cold
  3. Unblocks the bowels
  4. Alleviates pain

Contraindications: Contraindicated in patterns of Interior Excess Heat , because the formula is... Contraindicated in patterns of Interior Excess Heat , because the formula is warm. If taking this formula is followed by a bowel movement, the prognosis is generally good. If, on the other hand, it causes vomiting, increased chills, or the appearance of a thin pulse, it indicates a worsening of the condition and the patient should stop taking the formula. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm and purge. Its main actions are: 1) warms the Interior and 2) disperses Cold.

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 Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder or Exterior Cold invading the Interior. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, periarthritis of the shoulder or gallstones for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the three ingredients in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Da Huang Fu Zi Tang helps treat.

The three ingredients in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Zhi Fu Zi is a king ingredient in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Part used: Processed daughter root

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidney

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

Zhi Fu Zi is the most effective substance in the Materia Medica for warming the Yang and dispelling Cold. In this case, because the Cold is severe and it is combined with a cooling substance, Rhubarb (Da Huang)'s dosage is higher than usual.

Learn more about Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Da Huang is a deputy ingredient in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Rhubarb (Da Huang)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestineLiverPericardium

Category: Purgative herbs that drain downward

Da Huang is used here to flush the Intestines and purge Stagnant accumulation. It also enters the Liver Channel at the Blood level where it assists in the treatment of hypochondriac pain and directs the actions of the other herbs into the Intestines. This is a more subtle and complex action than merely draining Fire through the stool. For this reason, the dosage of this herb is much lower than in formulas in which it serves as the key herb, such as Da Cheng Qi Tang.

Learn more about Rhubarb (Da Huang)

Xi Xin is an assistant ingredient in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Wild Ginger (Xi Xin)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Xi Xin is a powerful substance for expelling Cold and dispersing accumulation or clumping. It is commonly combined with Aconite to treat pathogenic Cold that lurks deeply in the Yin portion of the body.

Learn more about Wild Ginger (Xi Xin)

Conditions and patterns for which Da Huang Fu Zi 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 Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat two 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:

Trigeminal neuralgia Periarthritis of the shoulder Gallstones Kidney stones Appendicitis Inguinal hernia Orchitis Sciatica Phlebitis Sties Keratities Conjunctivitis Tonsillitis Gingivitis Chronic renal failure Lumbar disc disease Urticaria Eczema

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Da Huang Fu Zi Tang treats trigeminal neuralgia" for instance. Rather, Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind trigeminal neuralgia.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Da Huang Fu Zi Tang.

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

Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Gallstones Kidney stones Epigastric pain

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder. This pattern leads to symptoms such as gallstones, kidney stones and epigastric pain. Patients with Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick coating.

According to Chinese medicine, gallstones or kidney stones are a form of Phlegm. It is the consequence of Phlegm left untreated in respectively the Gallbladder and the Kidneys. Over a long period of time Heat will solidify Phlegm, resulting in the formation of stones.

read more about Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

The Interior in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Interior in Chinese Medicine

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Exterior Cold invading the Interior. This pattern leads to symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, hypochondriac pain and chills. Patients with Exterior Cold invading the Interior typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Learn more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior

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