Stephania roots (Fang Ji) Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Chinese: 防己黄芪汤

Pinyin: Fáng Jǐ Huáng Qí Tāng

Other names: Stephania and Astragalus Decoction

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that promote urination and leach out Dampness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: EdemaAscitesLumbar disc disease and three other conditions

  1. Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema
  2. Tonifies the Spleen Qi
  3. Calms External Wind

Contraindications: Contraindicated for Excess type Edema manifesting as nausea, abdominal... Contraindicated for Excess type Edema manifesting as nausea, abdominal distention, loose stools, or other Stomach and Intestinal symptoms. Contraindicated when there is an absence of sweating. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Stephania Roots (Fang Ji) and Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote urination and leach out Dampness. Its main actions are: 1) diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema and 2) tonifies the Spleen Qi.

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 Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Oedema or Wind-Damp. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as ascites, edema or rheumatic heart disease for instance.

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

The six ingredients in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Fang Ji is a king ingredient in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Stephania Roots (Fang Ji)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Fang Ji releases the Exterior, unblocks the Meridians, promotes urination, expels Dampness and relieves pain. By combining it with Milkvetch root (Huang Qi), the other key herb, they mutually reinforce their Qi tonifying and urination-promoting actions: this alleviates any Edema without injuring the normal Qi.

Learn more about Stephania Roots (Fang Ji)

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Huang Qi is the principal ingredient in Chinese Medicine for stabilizing the Protective Qi in cases of Deficiency.

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Bai Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Bai Zhu strengthens the Spleen and resolves Dampness. It assists Milkvetch root (Huang Qi) in stabilizing the Exterior (Protective Qi) and Stephania root (Han Fang Ji) in resolving the Dampness.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. 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 Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang, it is used because it helps tonify the Spleen.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Sheng Jiang is an envoy ingredient in Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

5. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Sheng Jiang , together with Jujube dates (Da Zao, the other envoy in this formula), regulate the nutritive and protective Qi to assist in the stabilization of the Exterior and the strengthening of the Qi and Blood.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

6. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Da Zao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula."

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Conditions and patterns for which Fang Ji Huang Qi 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 Fang Ji Huang Qi 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:

Ascites Edema Rheumatic heart disease Rheumatoid arthritis Acute glomerulonephritis Lumbar disc disease

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang treats ascites" for instance. Rather, Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind ascites.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang.

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

Oedema

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Oedema. This pattern leads to symptoms such as oedema of ankles, oedema of legs, oedema of hands and oedema of face. Patients with Oedema typically exhibit slowed-down (Huan) or hidden (Fu) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Oedema (also spelled "Edema") a retention of Body Fluids that results in swellings, depending where the retention occurs: it can be in the limbs, the legs, the face, etc. The swellings are usually so that if one presses on it with a finger, the resulting dip takes a long time to disappear.

Oedema... read more about Oedema

Wind is one of the pathogenic factors in Chinese Medicine. Learn more about Wind in Chinese Medicine

Wind-Damp

Pulse type(s): Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Sweating Urinary difficulty General sensation of heaviness

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Wind-Damp. This pattern leads to symptoms such as sweating, general sensation of heaviness, edema and urinary difficulty. Patients with Wind-Damp typically exhibit floating (Fu) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

Learn more about Wind-Damp

Formulas similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is 57% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is 50% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is 50% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Ju Yuan Jian is 50% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Xiao Jian Zhong Tang is 50% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang is 50% similar to Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang