Curculigo rhizomes (Xian Mao) Epimedium herbs (Yin Yang Huo) Morinda roots (Ba Ji Tian) Dong quai (Dang Gui)

Er Xian Tang

Chinese: 二仙汤

Pinyin: Èr Xiān Tāng

Other names: Two-Immortal Decoction, Circuligo and Epimedium Combination

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that tonify Yin and Yang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: HyperthyroidPolycystic kidneysMenopausal syndrome and seven other conditions

  1. Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys
  2. Clears Empty Heat
  3. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels

Source date: 1950 AD

Source book: Clinical Handbook of Chinese Medical Formulas

Er Xian Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Curculigo Rhizomes (Xian Mao) and Epimedium Herbs (Yin Yang Huo) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1950 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Yin and Yang. Its main actions are: 1) nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys and 2) clears Empty Heat.

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 Er Xian Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Kidney Yang Deficiency or Deficiency of both the Kidney Yin and Yang. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as irregular menstruation, menopausal syndrome or perimenopausal syndrome for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Er Xian Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Er Xian Tang helps treat.

The six ingredients in Er Xian Tang

Xian Mao is a king ingredient in Er Xian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Curculigo Rhizomes (Xian Mao)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

Xian Mao works together with Epimedium herb (Yin Yang Huo), the other key herb in this formula, and with Morinda root (Ba Ji Tian), a deputy herb here, to warm the Kidney Yang and tonify the Kidney Essence.

Learn more about Curculigo Rhizomes (Xian Mao)

Yin Yang Huo is a king ingredient in Er Xian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Epimedium Herbs (Yin Yang Huo)

Part used: Dried aerial part

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

In general Yin Yang Huo's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Kidney Yang. Expels Wind-Damp-Cold Bi Pain. Strengthens Lung Qi and assists in expectoration."

Learn more about Epimedium Herbs (Yin Yang Huo)

Ba Ji Tian is a deputy ingredient in Er Xian Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Morinda Roots (Ba Ji Tian)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

In general Ba Ji Tian's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Kidney Yang. Expels Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction (Bi Pain)."

Learn more about Morinda Roots (Ba Ji Tian)

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

4. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Dang Gui's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation."

In the context of Er Xian Tang, it is used because it moistens and nourishes the Blood and regulates the Penetrating and Governing Vessels.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Huang Bo is an assistant ingredient in Er Xian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Part used: Dried bark

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderKidneyLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Bo works together with Anemarrhena rhizome (Zhi Mu), another assistant in this formula, to drain ascending Fire at the gate of vitality.

Learn more about Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Zhi Mu is an assistant ingredient in Er Xian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachKidneyLung

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

In general Zhi Mu's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Qi level. Clears Heat and Fire from the Lung and Stomach. Clears Heat and tonifies the Yin."

Learn more about Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Conditions and patterns for which Er Xian 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 Er Xian 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:

Irregular menstruation Menopausal syndrome Perimenopausal syndrome Essential hypertension Chronix glumerulonephritis Chronic pyelonephritis Polycystic kidneys Renal vascular disease Hyperthyroid Urinary tract infection

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Er Xian Tang treats irregular menstruation" for instance. Rather, Er Xian Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind irregular menstruation.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Er Xian Tang.

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Er Xian Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as abdominal pain, sore lower back, cold limbs and edema. Patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness. It indicates that the Fire of the Gate of Life, which is located between the two Kidneys and supplies fundamental warmth for the body, is also impaired.  Therefore, the Organs lack warmth and cannot fully perform their functions.... read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency

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