Ginseng (Ren Shen) Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Longans (Long Yan Rou) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Jujube seeds (Suan Zao Ren) Host-wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Gui Pi Tang

Chinese: 归脾汤

Pinyin: Guī Pí Tāng

Other names: Restore the Spleen Decoction, Ginseng and Longan Combination

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that tonify Qi and Blood

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AnemiaColitisAnxiety and seventeen other conditions

  1. Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood
  2. Tonifies Heart and Spleen

Source date: 1529 AD

Source book: Categorized Essentials for Normalizing the Structure

Gui Pi Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen), Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi), Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) and Liquorice (Gan Cao) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1529 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Qi and Blood. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood and 2) tonifies Heart and Spleen.

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 Gui Pi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Qi Deficiency, Blood Deficiency or Heart Blood Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as abnormal uterine bleeding, heavy menstruation or late menstruation for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the twelve ingredients in Gui Pi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Gui Pi Tang helps treat.

The twelve ingredients in Gui Pi Tang

Ren Shen is a king ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen is a very powerful substances for tonifying the Spleen Qi and so is Milkvetch root (Huang Qi), another key herb in this formula.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Gui Pi 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

In general Huang Qi's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Wei Qi and stops perspiration. Tonifies the Spleen Qi and the Yang Qi of the Earth Element. Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Expels pus and assists in the healing of wounds. Helps to regulate water metabolism in the body and reduce edema."

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Bai Zhu is a king ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

3. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Bai Zhu's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi."

In the context of Gui Pi Tang, it is used because it strengthens the Spleen and dries Dampness.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Gan Cao is a king ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

4. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao tonifies the Spleen and augments the Qi. Together with the 3 other key herbs in this formula it has a strong tonifying effect on the Spleen, which enables it to generate Blood.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Long Yan Rou is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Longans (Long Yan Rou)

Part used: Dried flesh of the fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeart

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Long Yan Rou's main actions are as follows: "Nourishes the Blood. Calms the spirit. Relieves fatigue, especially mental fatigue."

In the context of Gui Pi Tang, it is used because it "roots" and calms the Mind (Shen) by tonifying the Blood.

Learn more about Longans (Long Yan Rou)

Dang Gui is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

6. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui tonifies the Blood and regulates women's menstruations. Its combination with Milkvetch root (Huang Qi), one of the key herbs in this formula, is very effective in generating and tonifying the Blood.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Suan Zao Ren is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

7. Jujube Seeds (Suan Zao Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seed

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

In general Suan Zao Ren's main actions are as follows: "Nourishes the Heart Yin and calms the spirit. Contains Fluid leakage."

Learn more about Jujube Seeds (Suan Zao Ren)

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

8. Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Part used: The part of the mushroom that is attached to the host-wood, dried

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeart

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Fu Shen works together with Jujube seeds (Suan Zao Ren), another deputy in this formula, to calm the Mind (Shen). It also reinforces the Spleen-tonifying action of the four key herbs in this formula.

Learn more about Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Yuan Zhi is a deputy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

9. Chinese Senega Roots (Yuan Zhi)

Part used: The dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Yuan Zhi calms the Mind (Shen) by facilitating the flow of Qi in the Heart. It is especially effective when it is balanced by the sour properties of Jujube seeds (Suan Zao Ren).

Learn more about Chinese Senega Roots (Yuan Zhi)

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

10. Costus Roots (Mu Xiang)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenStomachLarge intestineLiverLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

Mu Xiang regulates the Qi and revives the Spleen. It is especially effective in this when combined with Atractylodes rhizome (Bai Zhu), which is one of the key herbs in this formula. Its use also prevents indigestion due to the rich, cloying properties of the other herbs.

Learn more about Costus Roots (Mu Xiang)

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

11. 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 works together with Jujube dates (Da Zao), the other envoy in this formula, to improve the appetite and regulate the nutritive and protective Qi, thereby facilitating the actions of the other ingredients. They also assist the four key herbs of this formula in strengthening the Spleen.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Gui Pi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

12. 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 Gui Pi 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 Gui Pi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat six 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:

Abnormal uterine bleeding Heavy menstruation Late menstruation Postpartum depression Early menstruation Absence of menstruation Nervous exhaustion Myasthenia gravis Postconcussion headache Anemia Allergic purpura Congestive heart failure Supraventricular tachycardia Cervicitis Peptic ulcers Colitis Depression Anxiety Perimenopausal syndrome Insomnia

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Gui Pi Tang treats abnormal uterine bleeding" for instance. Rather, Gui Pi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind abnormal uterine bleeding.

Now let's look at the six patterns commonly treated with Gui Pi Tang.

Qi is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Qi in Chinese Medicine

Qi Deficiency

Gui Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath, weak voice, spontaneous sweating and poor appetite. Patients with Qi Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

When Qi is Deficient, it typically appears as tiredness or weakness in the body. Since Qi is lacking, it is unable to perform any of its functions. Some of the symptoms for Qi Deficiency also commonly apply for other conditions. The overall differentiating symptoms for Qi Deficiency, however, is... read more about Qi Deficiency

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Blood Deficiency

Gui Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Blood Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as amenorrhea, scanty periods, dizziness and numbness. Patients with Blood Deficiency typically exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

A Deficiency of Blood occurs when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood. This can be caused by a loss of blood, insufficient Spleen Qi to produce Blood or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

The Organs most likely to be... read more about Blood Deficiency

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

Heart Blood Deficiency

Gui Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart Blood Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, poor memory and dream disturbed sleep. Patients with Heart Blood Deficiency typically exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) which resides in the Heart. Therefore, it causes symptoms such as insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory and tendency to be scared. Another typical symptom is palpitation due to Heart Qi Deficiency which is a result of Heart Blood... read more about Heart Blood Deficiency

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

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

Gui Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart and Spleen Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, poor appetite and fatigue. Patients with Heart and Spleen Deficiency typically exhibit choppy (Se) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

The Spleen rules transformation and transportation of food, Qi, and Body Fluids and their distribution to other Zang Organs. It is the origin of Blood production and keeps it running inside the vessels. 

The Heart's main function in Chinese Medicine is to govern the flow of Blood, the Blood... read more about Heart and Spleen Deficiency

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

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

Gui Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as early periods, pale menstrual blood, lower back pain and dizziness. Patients with Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

Formulas similar to Gui Pi Tang

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is 58% similar to Gui Pi Tang

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang is 57% similar to Gui Pi Tang

Ba Zhen Tang is 50% similar to Gui Pi Tang

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is 42% similar to Gui Pi Tang

Juan Bi Tang is 42% similar to Gui Pi Tang

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is 42% similar to Gui Pi Tang