Ephedra (Ma Huang) Gypsum (Shi Gao) Cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi) Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Da Qing Long Tang

Chinese: 大青龙汤

Pinyin: Dà Qīng Lóng Tāng

Other names: Major Blue Green Dragon Decoction

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Wind-Cold

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: InfluenzaSinusitisPsoriasis and twelve other conditions

  1. Promotes sweating
  2. Releases the Exterior
  3. Clears Interior Heat

Contraindications: This formula is strongly diaphoretic (induces sweating). It should be... This formula is strongly diaphoretic (induces sweating). It should be administered gradually and stopped once sweating has been induced. The formula is contraindicated in lesser Yin patterns, in cases of Yang Deficiency, in Wind-Stroke patterns with Deficiency of the Exterior, and in all cases where sweating is associated with an increase in irritability, restlessness, and Heat (i.e., cases of Yin or Blood Deficiency). It is also inappropriate for Wind-Cold fettering the Exterior with severe accumulation of Fluids in the Interior. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage

Da Qing Long Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ephedra (Ma Huang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Wind-Cold. Its main actions are: 1) promotes sweating and 2) releases the Exterior.

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 Qing Long Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs or Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as upper respiratory tract infections, influenza or suppurative keratitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the seven ingredients in Da Qing Long Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Da Qing Long Tang helps treat.

The seven ingredients in Da Qing Long Tang

Ma Huang is a king ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Ephedra (Ma Huang)

Part used: Dried herbaceous stems

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: BladderLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Ma Huang's main actions are as follows: "Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination."

In the context of Da Qing Long Tang, it is used because it is a particularly strong diaphoretic that also disseminates the Lung Qi and treats wheezing.

Learn more about Ephedra (Ma Huang)

Shi Gao is a deputy ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Gypsum (Shi Gao)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

Shi Gao clears Internal Heat without inhibiting the dispersing action of the diaphoretics or further damaging the Yin Fluids.

Learn more about Gypsum (Shi Gao)

Gui Zhi is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi)

Part used: Dried young branches

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Gui Zhi works together with Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang), another assistant herb of this formula, to assist the key herb - Ephedra (Ma Huang) - in strongly opening the pores, inducing sweating, and scattering Wind-Cold.

Learn more about Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi)

Sheng Jiang is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. 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)

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Da Zao works together with Liquorice (Gan Cao), another assistant herb here, to tonify the Middle Burner Qi and provide the Essence from which the Fluids can be replenished. They actively facilitate sweating in a context where Fluids may have been damaged by Internal Heat, while also moderating the drying action of the acrid and warming diaphoretic herbs.

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. 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)

Xing Ren is an assistant ingredient in Da Qing Long Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLung

Category: Herbs that relieve coughing and wheezing

Xing Ren directs Lung Qi downward and balances the dispersive action of the key herb here, Ephedra (Ma Huang). Also, its oily nature moderates the damage to the Lungs made by Ephedra's drying effect.

Learn more about Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Conditions and patterns for which Da Qing Long 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 Qing Long 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:

Upper respiratory tract infections Influenza Suppurative keratitis Conjunctivitis Sinusitis Bronchial asthma Viral pneumonia Lobar pneumonia Pulmonary gangrene Septicemia Scarlet fever Erysipelas Dermatitis Sebaceous cysts Psoriasis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Da Qing Long Tang treats upper respiratory tract infections" for instance. Rather, Da Qing Long Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind upper respiratory tract infections.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Da Qing Long Tang.

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Da Qing Long Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs. This pattern leads to symptoms such as feeling of heaviness, pain in the muscles, absence of sweating and no thirst. Patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick white coating.

Essential Prescriptions from the Golden Cabinet, a classic Chinese Medicine book written almost 2,000 years ago by Zhang Zhongjing (150-219), defines Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs (Yi Yin) as follows: "The Fluids flow [throughout the entire body] and come together in the four limbs. They should issue... read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

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

Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Symptoms: Thirst Irritability Generalized body pain Severe fever and chills without sweating

Da Qing Long Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as severe fever and chills without sweating, generalized body pain, thirst and irritability. Patients with Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses.

Learn more about Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation

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