Erythrinae barks (Hai Tong Pi) Angelica roots (Bai Zhi) Garden Balsam Stems (Tou Gu Cao) Sichuan pepper (Hua Jiao) Clematis roots (Wei Ling Xian) Saposhnikovia roots (Fang Feng) Frankincense (Ru Xiang) Myrrh (Mo Yao)

Chinese: 海桐皮汤

Pinyin: Hǎi Tóng Pí Tāng

Other names: Erythrina Wash

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula category: External formulas for External disorders

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Trauma

  1. Invigorates the Blood
  2. Disperses swelling
  3. Dispels Wind, Dampness and Cold
  4. Removes Stagnation and relieves pain

Source date: 1742 AD

Source book: Golden Mirror of the Medical Tradition

Hai Tong Pi Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Erythrinae Barks (Hai Tong Pi) and Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1742 AD, it belongs to the category of external formulas for External disorders. Its main actions are: 1) invigorates the Blood and 2) disperses swelling.

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 Hai Tong Pi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Blood Stagnation or Damp-Wind. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as trauma for instance.

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

The twelve ingredients in Hai Tong Pi Tang

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

1. Erythrinae Barks (Hai Tong Pi)

Part used: The bark

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

Hai Tong Pi unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Erythrinae Barks (Hai Tong Pi)

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

2. Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Bai Zhi unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Tou Gu Cao is a deputy ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Garden Balsam Stems (Tou Gu Cao)

Part used: The whole plant

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

Tou Gu Cao unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Garden Balsam Stems (Tou Gu Cao)

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

4. Sichuan Pepper (Hua Jiao)

Part used: Dried pericarp of ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: KidneySpleenStomach

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

Hua Jiao unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Sichuan Pepper (Hua Jiao)

Wei Ling Xian is a deputy ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Clematis Roots (Wei Ling Xian)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSalty

Meridian affinity: Bladder

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

Wei Ling Xian unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Clematis Roots (Wei Ling Xian)

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

6. Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: BladderLiverSpleen

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Fang Feng unblocks the Channels, invigorates the collaterals, dispel Dampness, and relieves pain.  Erythrinae bark, Garden Balsam, Clematis root, Angelica root, Saposhnikovia root and Sichuan pepper shares similar functions.

Learn more about Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

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

7. Frankincense (Ru Xiang)

Part used: An aromatic resin obtained from boswellia trees

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Ru Xiang invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation. Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation.

Learn more about Frankincense (Ru Xiang)

Mo Yao is an assistant ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Myrrh (Mo Yao)

Part used: Dried resin of the tree

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Mo Yao invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation. Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation.

Learn more about Myrrh (Mo Yao)

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

9. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLiverSpleen

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation. Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Chuan Xiong is an assistant ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Chuan Xiong invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation. Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation.

Learn more about Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Hong Hua is an assistant ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Part used: Dried flower

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Hong Hua invigorates the Blood and move Blood Stagnation. Together with the Wind-Damp dispersing nature of the key and deputy herbs, this formula effectively clears stasis from the channels and collaterals, reduces swelling, dispels Wind-Damp and promotes an environment where healing is
less obstructed by the pathogens of Wind, Dampness, Cold, and Stagnation.

Learn more about Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Hai Tong Pi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

12. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleenStomach

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 Hai Tong Pi Tang, it is used because it moderates the pain and harmonizes the actions of the other ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Hai Tong 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 Hai Tong Pi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat two different patterns which we describe below.

But before we delve into these patterns it is worth mentioning that they're often associated with the condition "trauma". Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Hai Tong Pi Tang treats trauma". Rather, Hai Tong Pi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind trauma.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Hai Tong Pi Tang.

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

Blood Stagnation

Hai Tong Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Blood Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dark face, purple lips, boring fixed stabbing pain and abdominal masses. Patients with Blood Stagnation typically exhibit choppy (Se), firm (Lao) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as Purple tongue .

Blood Stagnation - also often referred to as "Blood Stasis" - is where the Blood flow is heavily restricted in all or parts of the body. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the... read more about Blood Stagnation

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

Damp-Wind

Hai Tong Pi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Wind. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aversion to cold, fever, swollen neck glands and nausea. Patients with Damp-Wind typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or floating (Fu) pulses.

This pattern indicates the early stage of Exterior Wind and Dampness invasion. When there is Dampness obstructing the Connecting channels, it gives rise to swollen glands in the neck. When it obstructs the joints, it leads to pain there. It can also cause muscle ache and feeling of heaviness if the... read more about Damp-Wind

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