Kudzu roots (Ge Gen) Goldthread rhizomes (Huang Lian) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang

Chinese: 葛根黄芩黄连汤

Pinyin: Gé Gēn Huáng Qín Huáng Lián Tāng

Other names: Kudzu Scutellaria and Coptis Decoction, Coptis Scute and Pueraria Combination, Pueraria Scutellaria Coptis Decoction, Kudzu, Baikal Skullcap and Goldthread Decoction

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: External formulas for External disorders

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: StrokeEczemaMeasles and fourteen other conditions

  1. Releases the Exterior
  2. Drains Heat

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with dysenteric disorders but without fever Also... Contraindicated for patients with dysenteric disorders but without fever Also contraindicated for patients with submerged, slow pulse. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage

Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of external formulas for External disorders. Its main actions are: 1) releases the Exterior and 2) drains 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 Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as stomach flu, acute enteritis or bacillary dysentery for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the four ingredients in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang helps treat.

The four ingredients in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang

Ge Gen is a king ingredient in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Ge Gen clears Heat, releases the Exterior,  and treats dysenteric diarrhea by raising the Spleen and Stomach's Clear Yang. It is a particular herb for patterns where Heat is developed from a Cold Pernicious Influence.

Learn more about Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

Huang Lian is a deputy ingredient in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenStomachHeartLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Lian is bitter and it dries Dampness in the Stomach and Intestines so as to stop the diarrhea. It also drains Heat, particularly the Yang brightness-warp Heat.

Learn more about Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Huang Qin is an assistant ingredient in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenHeartLarge intestineLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Qin is also bitter and cold, which is useful in draining Heat from the Lungs and to stop wheezing. It helps to treat relatively superficial levels of the body. It is often used to dysenteric disorders due to Damp Heat by entering into the Intestines.

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

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 Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang, it is used because it harmonizes the actions of the other herbs and protects the Middle Burner from further injury.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is used to treat Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine

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 Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Stomach flu Acute enteritis Bacillary dysentery Enteric fever Toxic gastroenteritis Pneumonia Encephalitis B Measles Coronary artery disease Hypertension Cerebrovascular disease Cervical spine disease Perimenopausal syndrome Rectal prolapse Stroke Eczema Diabetes

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang treats stomach flu" for instance. Rather, Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is used to treat Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine, which is sometimes the root cause behind stomach flu.

Now let's look at Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang.

The Large Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Large Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine

Ge Geng Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine. This pattern leads to symptoms such as stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium, abdominal pain, abdominal fullness and diarrhea. Patients with Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses.

The Large Intestine's main function is to absorb fluids so as to form and excrete stools. This can be greatly disturbed due to the Dampness in the Organ. As a result, fluids can not be absorbed properly and diarrhoea happens. Dampness can also be reflected by the mucus in the stools. feeling of... read more about Damp-Heat in the Large Intestine

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