Akebia stems (Mu Tong) Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) Lophatherum herbs (Dan Zhu Ye) Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Dao Chi San

Chinese: 导赤散

Pinyin: Dǎo Chì Sàn

Other names: Eliminating Redness Powder, Guide Out the Red Powder

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat from the Organs

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: CystitisStomatitisOral thrush and three other conditions

  1. Clears the Heart
  2. Promotes urination

Contraindications: Use with caution in cases of Spleen and Stomach deficiency.

Source date: 1119 AD

Source book: Craft of Medicinal Treatment for Childhood Disease Patterns

Dao Chi San is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Akebia Stems (Mu Tong) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1119 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs. Its main actions are: 1) clears the Heart and 2) promotes urination.

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 Dao Chi San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Full-Heat in the Small Intestine. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as stomatitis, oral thrush or night terrors for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the four ingredients in Dao Chi San, we review the patterns and conditions that Dao Chi San helps treat.

The four ingredients in Dao Chi San

Mu Tong is a king ingredient in Dao Chi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)

Part used: Dried stem

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Mu Tong clears Heat from the Heart Channel in the upper body, and clears Heat and promotes urination within the Small Intestine Channel below.

Learn more about Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)

Di Huang is a deputy ingredient in Dao Chi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Di Huang enters the Heart to cool the Blood as well as the Kidneys to nourish the Yin and generate Fluids (strengthening the Kidney Water), which controls Heart Fire.

Learn more about Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Dan Zhu Ye is an assistant ingredient in Dao Chi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Lophatherum Herbs (Dan Zhu Ye)

Part used: Dried stem and leaf

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartSmall intestine

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

In general Dan Zhu Ye's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and aids thirst. Aids urination and drains Damp-Heat."

In the context of Dao Chi San, it is used because it is used to alleviate irritability by clearing Heat from the Heart.

Learn more about Lophatherum Herbs (Dan Zhu Ye)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Dao Chi San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

4. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao treats painful urinary dribbling, in addition to resolving toxicity and harmonizing the actions of the other herbs in the formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Dao Chi San is used to treat Full-Heat in the Small Intestine

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 Dao Chi San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Full-Heat in the Small Intestine" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Full-Heat in the Small Intestine here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Stomatitis Oral thrush Night terrors Pyelonephritis Cystitis Urinary stones

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Dao Chi San treats stomatitis" for instance. Rather, Dao Chi San is used to treat Full-Heat in the Small Intestine, which is sometimes the root cause behind stomatitis.

Now let's look at Full-Heat in the Small Intestine, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Dao Chi San.

The Small Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Full-Heat in the Small Intestine

Dao Chi San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Full-Heat in the Small Intestine. This pattern leads to symptoms such as restlnessness, insomnia, tongue ulcers and mouth ulcers. Patients with Full-Heat in the Small Intestine typically exhibit overflowing (Hong) or rapid (Shu) pulses.

This pattern is closely associated with Heart Fire Blazing since both Organs are associated at the channel level and they belong to the Fire element in the Five Phases theory

Heart Fire is transmitted to the Small Intestine and this interferes with its function of receiving and transforming as... read more about Full-Heat in the Small Intestine

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