Pubescent angelica roots (Du Huo) Wild ginger (Xi Xin) Saposhnikovia roots (Fang Feng) Gentian roots (Qin Jiao) Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng) Eucommia bark (Du Zhong) Achyranthes roots (Niu Xi) Cinnamon bark (Rou Gui)

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Chinese: 独活寄生汤

Pinyin: Dú Huó Jì Shēng Tāng

Other names: Du Huo and Loranthes Combination, Pubescent Angelica and Taxillus Decoction

Number of ingredients: 15 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dispel Wind-Damp

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: EczemaSciaticaOsteoarthritis and five other conditions

  1. Anti-rheumatic, clears Wind, Cold and Damp Stagnation
  2. Strengthens the function of the Liver and Kidney
  3. Tonifies Qi and Blood

Contraindications: Contradicted for acute inflammatory stages of lumbago, sciatica and arthritic... Contradicted for acute inflammatory stages of lumbago, sciatica and arthritic conditions, because it is a heating formula. see more

Source date: 650 AD

Source book: Important Formulas Worth a Thousand Gold Pieces

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is a 15-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Pubescent Angelica Roots (Du Huo) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 650 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dispel Wind-Damp. Its main actions are: 1) anti-rheumatic, clears Wind, Cold and Damp Stagnation and 2) strengthens the function of the Liver and Kidney.

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 Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm in the Joints or Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as chronic lower back pain, sciatica or osteoarthritis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the fifteen ingredients in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang helps treat.

The fifteen ingredients in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang

Du Huo is a king ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Pubescent Angelica Roots (Du Huo)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: BladderKidney

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

In general Du Huo's main actions are as follows: "Disperses Wind, Cold, Dampness. Relieves pain. Relieves Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) headache."

In the context of Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, it is used because it expels Wind, Dampness, and Cold from the Lower-Burner, bones, and sinews.

Learn more about Pubescent Angelica Roots (Du Huo)

Xi Xin is a deputy ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. 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 scatters Cold in the Channels and scours out Wind-Dampness from the sinews and bones to stop the pain.

Learn more about Wild Ginger (Xi Xin)

Fang Feng is a deputy ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: BladderSpleenLiver

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Fang Feng's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Disperses Wind."

In the context of Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, it is used because it expels the Wind and overcomes Dampness.

Learn more about Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Qin Jiao is a deputy ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Gentian Roots (Qin Jiao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

In general Qin Jiao's main actions are as follows: "Clears either acute or chronic, Cold or Hot Wind-Damp conditions. Clears Heat from Yin Deficiency. Lubricates the Intestines and promotes bowel movements."

In the context of Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, it is used because it relaxes the sinews and expels the Wind and Dampness.

Learn more about Gentian Roots (Qin Jiao)

Sang Ji Sheng is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)

Part used: Dried stem and branch with leaf

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

Sang Ji Sheng works together with Achyranthes root (Niu Xi) and Unprepared Rehmannia (Sheng Di Huang), other assistants in this formula, to expel Wind-Dampness and tonify the Liver and Kidneys.

Learn more about Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)

Du Zhong is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong)

Part used: Dried stem bark

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

In general Du Zhong's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms ascendant Liver Yang (hypertension/high blood pressure). Calms a restless fetus."

Learn more about Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong)

Niu Xi is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Achyranthes Roots (Niu Xi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Niu Xi's main actions are as follows: "Moves Blood and relieves pain in the raw state. Tonic to the Liver and Kidneys and strengthens the bones and sinews. Reduces Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Regulates the flow of reckless Blood caused by either ascendant Liver Yang or Yin Deficient Fire."

Learn more about Achyranthes Roots (Niu Xi)

Rou Gui is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Part used: Dried stem bark

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLiver

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

Rou Gui warms and unblocks the Channels and fortifies the Yang. It opens up the lower back and is an important herb for treating lower back pain.

Learn more about Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui works together with Szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong)Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) and White peony roots (Bai Shao), other assistants in this formula, to nourish and invigorate the Blood

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Chuan Xiong's main actions are as follows: "Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches."

Learn more about Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Bai Shao is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Bai Shao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain."

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Ren Shen is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

12. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen works together with Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling), another assistant here, to strengthen the Spleen (always crucial when treating conditions with Dampness, especially chronic ones).

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

13. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Fu Ling's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit."

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Di Huang is an assistant ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

14. Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

In general Di Huang's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes."

Learn more about Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

15. 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 Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang, it is used because it tonifies the middle Qi and harmonizes the actions of the other herbs in the formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Du Huo Ji Sheng 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 Du Huo Ji Sheng 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:

Chronic lower back pain Sciatica Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid arthritis Periarthritis of the shoulder Lumbar disc disease Temporomandibular joint dysfunction Eczema

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang treats chronic lower back pain" for instance. Rather, Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind chronic lower back pain.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang.

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

Phlegm in the Joints

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in the Joints. This pattern leads to symptoms such as bone deformities, heaviness of achiness in the joints of limbs, numbness in the limbs and numbness of the muscles.

According to Chinese medicine, chronic rheumatoid arthritis or arthritis in general is seen as a form of Phlegm. As a reminder Phlegm occurs when the Body Fluids accumulate and become Stagnant during a long period of time. If they do so in the joints, this Phlegm manifests itself in arthritis and... read more about Phlegm in the Joints

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

Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Palpitations Aversion to cold Shortness of breath Attraction to warmth Weakness and stiffness Heavy and painful sensations in the lower back and lower extremities

Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as heavy and painful sensations in the lower back and lower extremities, weakness and stiffness, aversion to cold and attraction to warmth. Patients with Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency typically exhibit slow (Chi), weak (Ruo) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Learn more about Painful Obstruction with Liver and Kidney Deficiency

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