Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Talc (Hua Shi) Virgate wormwood (Yin Chen) Korean mint (Huo Xiang) Sweetflag rhizomes (Shi Chang Pu) Cardamon fruits (Bai Dou Kou) Forsythia fruits (Lian Qiao) Blackberry Lily rhizomes (She Gan)

Chinese: 甘露消毒丹

Pinyin: Gān Lù Xiāo Dú Dān

Other names: Sweet Dew Special Pill to Eliminate Toxin

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: TyphoidParotitisEnteric fever and seven other conditions

  1. Resolves Dampness and transforms turbidity
  2. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with significant underlying Yin Deficiency.

Source date: 1831 AD

Source book: Secretly Transmitted Effective Medicine

Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan is a 11-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin), Talc (Hua Shi) and Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1831 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness. Its main actions are: 1) resolves Dampness and transforms turbidity and 2) clears Heat and resolves Toxicity .

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 Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Damp-Heat or Toxic-Heat. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as acute gastroenteritis, enteric fever or typhoid for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eleven ingredients in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, we review the patterns and conditions that Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan helps treat.

The eleven ingredients in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan

Huang Qin is a king ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLarge intestineLungSmall intestineSpleen

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Qin drains Heat and facilitates the resolution of Dampness. It acts
on the Lower Burners, so that Qi can flow freely and the Damp-Heat has an avenue by which to exit the body.  It also clears Heat and resolves toxicity.

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Hua Shi is a king ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Talc (Hua Shi)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: BladderStomach

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Hua Shi drains Heat and facilitates the resolution of Dampness. It acts
on the Upper Burners, so that Qi can flow freely.  It also treats jaundice.

Learn more about Talc (Hua Shi)

Yin Chen is a king ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

3. Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverSpleenStomach

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Yin Chen drains Heat and facilitates the resolution of Dampness. It acts
on the Middle Burners, so that Qi can flow freely.  It also treats jaundice.

Learn more about Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen)

Huo Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Huo Xiang is fragrant, aromatic, acrid and warming. It transforms Dampness and invigorate Qi.  When the Middle Burner is obstructed by the thick, cloying properties of Dampness, aromatic herbs need to be used to eliminate the turbidity and revive the Spleen.

Learn more about Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Shi Chang Pu is a deputy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Sweetflag Rhizomes (Shi Chang Pu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that open the Orifices

Shi Chang Pu is fragrant, aromatic, acrid and warming. It transforms Dampness and invigorate Qi.  When the Middle Burner is obstructed by the thick, cloying properties of Dampness, aromatic herbs need to be used to eliminate the turbidity and revive the Spleen.

Learn more about Sweetflag Rhizomes (Shi Chang Pu)

Bai Dou Kou is a deputy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

6. Cardamon Fruits (Bai Dou Kou)

Part used: Fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Bai Dou Kou is fragrant, aromatic, acrid and warming. It transforms Dampness and invigorate Qi.  When the Middle Burner is obstructed by the thick, cloying properties of Dampness, aromatic herbs need to be used to eliminate the turbidity and revive the Spleen.

Learn more about Cardamon Fruits (Bai Dou Kou)

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Part used: Dried fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

In general Lian Qiao's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature."

In the context of Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, it is used because it clears Toxic-Heat, facilitating the functions of Baikal skullcap root.

Learn more about Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

She Gan is an assistant ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Blackberry Lily Rhizomes (She Gan)

Part used: The rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

In general She Gan's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat. Detoxifies Fire poison especially for sore throat. Resolves Phlegm and lowers Lung Qi "

In the context of Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan, it is used because it clears and improves the condition of the throat.

Learn more about Blackberry Lily Rhizomes (She Gan)

Chuan Bei Mu is an assistant ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Part used: Dried bulb

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Chuan Bei Mu clears up-flaring Fire from the Lung Channel and collaterals and assists Blackberry Lily rhizome in clearing the throat.

Learn more about Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Mu Tong is an assistant ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. 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 and facilitates the resolution of Dampness, assisting Talc and Virgate wormwood in guiding Damp-Heat out though the urine.

Learn more about Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)

Bo He is an envoy ingredient in Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

11. Wild Mint (Bo He)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Bo He is acrid and cooling. Its light and floating nature focuses the action of the assistants on the throat, while aiding the key and deputies in invigorating the Qi.

Learn more about Wild Mint (Bo He)

Conditions and patterns for which Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan 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 Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan 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:

Acute gastroenteritis Enteric fever Typhoid Mild leptospirosis Infectious hepatitis Cholecystitis Pyelonephritis Allergic purpura Viral myocarditis Parotitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan treats acute gastroenteritis" for instance. Rather, Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind acute gastroenteritis.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan.

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

Damp-Heat

Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fever, swollen neck glands, headaches and stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium. Patients with Damp-Heat typically exhibit soggy (Ru) pulses.

Within the Four-Levels theory, Damp-Heat is the first level of invasion of External Pathogens, when it still resides in the body's Exterior.

The general symptoms of Damp-Heat are the heaviness of the body and head as well as low temperature fever rising in the afternoon. The patients are not hot on... read more about Damp-Heat

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

Toxic-Heat

Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Toxic-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fever, swellings, pus and boils. Patients with Toxic-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses as well as Red tongue with yellow coating.

There are two types of Toxic-Heat. One type is called Toxic-Heat Stagnation, which mainly happens in Channels or other surfaces like skins, throat, lymph or mouth. The symptoms include pain, redness and swollen in throat as well as skin pustule and rush. Acne during teenage time is mainly due to... read more about Toxic-Heat

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