Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Fu Zi Tang

Chinese: 附子汤

Pinyin: Fù Zǐ Tāng

Other names: Aconite Accessory Root Decoction

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that warm and transform water and Dampness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: MigraineCirrhosisBell's palsy and sixteen other conditions

  1. Warms the Meridians
  2. Assists the Yang
  3. Dispels Cold
  4. Transforms Dampness

Contraindications: If not properly prepared, the main ingredient of this formula (Aconite) is... If not properly prepared, the main ingredient of this formula (Aconite) is toxic. For this reason, only the prepared form should be used and then cooked appropriately. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage

Fu Zi Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm and transform water and Dampness. Its main actions are: 1) warms the Meridians and 2) assists the Yang.

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 Fu Zi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as migraine, cluster headache or trigeminal neuralgia for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the five ingredients in Fu Zi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Fu Zi Tang helps treat.

The five ingredients in Fu Zi Tang

Zhi Fu Zi is a king ingredient in Fu Zi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Part used: Processed daughter root

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidney

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

Zhi Fu Zi penetrates into the Gate of Vitality to invigorate the Yang and disperses Cold from all twelve Meridians. As noted by Zhang Jie-Bin, a famous Chinese medicine doctor: "[Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)] is an essential herb for Yin-type patterns. In all cases of Cold damage that transmit or transform into [disorders of one of] the three Yin [warps] as well as in [direct] Cold strike into the Yin [warps], if the pulse is submerged, it must be used even if there is high fever."

Learn more about Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

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

2. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Bai Zhu works together with Poria (Fu Ling), the other deputy herb here, to strengthen the Spleen, promote urination, and provide a route for the Dampness to exit the body.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Fu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Fu Zi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. 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)

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

4. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen strongly tonifies the original Qi but also generates Fluids, providing the organism with a basis for re-establishing normal physiological functioning.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

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

5. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Bai Shao complements the actions of the key herb, Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) because it is cooling and restrains the Yin. Nourishing the Yin provides a substratum to which the Yang generated by Prepared aconite can attach itself, keeping it in the Interior and preventing it from dissipating to the Exterior.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Fu Zi Tang is used to treat Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

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 Fu Zi Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Migraine Cluster headache Trigeminal neuralgia Bell's palsy Piriformis syndrome Rheumatoid arthritis Cervical spine disease Periarthritis of the shoulder Ankylosing spondylitis Lumbar disc disease Essential tremor Chronic nephritis Nephrotic syndrome Cirrhosis Chronic bronchitis Cardiac disease Congestive heart failure Uterine prolapse Erectile dysfunction

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Fu Zi Tang treats migraine" for instance. Rather, Fu Zi Tang is used to treat Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp, which is sometimes the root cause behind migraine.

Now let's look at Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Fu Zi Tang.

'Cold' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Cold pattern in Chinese Medicine

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Minute (Wei), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Symptoms: No thirst Cold extremities Generalized body pain Aching bones and joints Aversion to cold (especially at the back)

Fu Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp. This pattern leads to symptoms such as generalized body pain, aching bones and joints, cold extremities and no thirst. Patients with Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp typically exhibit choppy (Se), deep (Chen), minute (Wei) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Learn more about Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

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