Goldthread rhizomes (Huang Lian) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Phellodendron bark (Huang Bo) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi)

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Chinese: 黄连解毒汤

Pinyin: Huáng Lián Jiě Dú Tāng

Other names: Coptis Decoction to Resolve Toxicity, Goldthread Decoction to Resolve Toxin

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and resolve toxicity

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: PyemiaDysenteryPneumonia and nine other conditions

  1. Drains Fire
  2. Resolves Toxin

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with weak constitution due to its very bitter and... Contraindicated for patients with weak constitution due to its very bitter and cold ingredients. It should not be applied over long term as it can hurt Yin. see more

Source date: 752 AD

Source book: Arcane Essentials from the Imperial Library

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 752 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and resolve toxicity. Its main actions are: 1) drains Fire and 2) resolves Toxin.

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 Huang Lian Jie Du Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Toxic-Heat or Toxic-Heat Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as septicemia, pyemia or dysentery for instance.

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

The four ingredients in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Huang Lian is a king ingredient in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. 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 drains Fire and Heat from the entire body, especially from the Heart and the Middle Burner. Once the fire is effectively cleared, the Toxin will disappear.

Learn more about Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

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

2. 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

In general Huang Qin's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome."

In the context of Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, it is used because it clears Heat from the Upper Burner.

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

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

3. Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Part used: Dried bark

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderKidneyLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

In general Huang Bo's main actions are as follows: "Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness."

In the context of Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, it is used because it clears Heat from the Lower Burner.

Learn more about Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLungSanjiao

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

Zhi Zi drains Heat from the Triple Burners through urination. It is especially powerful in relieving anxiety and irritability.

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Conditions and patterns for which Huang Lian Jie Du 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 Huang Lian Jie Du Tang 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:

Septicemia Pyemia Dysentery Acute gastroenteritis Acute hepatitis Acute cholecystitis Pneumonia Urinary tract infection Stomatitis Periodontitis Meningitis Encephalitis B

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Huang Lian Jie Du Tang treats septicemia" for instance. Rather, Huang Lian Jie Du Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind septicemia.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Huang Lian Jie Du Tang.

'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

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Toxic-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as thirst, dark urine, constipation and coughing. Patients with Toxic-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses.

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

'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 Stagnation

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Toxic-Heat Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as constipation, thirst, dark urine and pustule. Patients with Toxic-Heat Stagnation typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses.

This pattern can be chronic and causes by accumulated Heat or Fire in the body, which become Toxin eventually. It can also be caused by external Pernicious Influences which combat with the Defensive Qi and it gives rise to symptoms like fever and redness. This Toxic-Heat also consumes Body Fluids... read more about Toxic-Heat Stagnation

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