Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru) Goldthread rhizomes (Huang Lian) Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Chinese: 黄连温胆汤

Pinyin: Huáng Lián Wēn Dǎn Tāng

Other names: Warm Gallbladder Decoction with Coptis, Warm Gallbladder Decoction with Goldthread

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm

Mother formula: Wen Dan Tang

  1. Clears Hot Phlegm
  2. Clears Gallbladder Heat
  3. Regulates Qi
  4. Harmonizes the Stomach

Source date: 1852 AD

Source book: Warp and Woof of Warm-Heat Diseases

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1852 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm. Its main actions are: 1) clears Hot Phlegm and 2) clears Gallbladder Heat.

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

The seven ingredients in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Ban Xia is a king ingredient in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Ban Xia is the principal substance in the materia medica for transforming Phlegm and regulating the Stomach Qi.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Zhu Ru is a deputy ingredient in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

Part used: Dried middle shavings

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Zhu Ru enters the Stomach to expel Heat and stop nausea, and the Gallbladder to calm the Mind, release Stagnation, and alleviate irritability.

Learn more about Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

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

3. 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

In general Huang Lian's main actions are as follows: "Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites"

In the context of Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang, it is used because it balances the hot and warm properties of the other ingredients of the formula.

Learn more about Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

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

4. Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Part used: Dried unripe fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Zhi Shi's main actions are as follows: "Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs."

In the context of Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang, it is used because it reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi and is particularly effective in treating focal distention.

Learn more about Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp of the ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

Chen Pi dries Dampness and expels Phlegm while regulating the Qi and harmonizes its circulation in the Stomach.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Fu Ling , together with Liquorice (Gan Cao), strengthens the Spleen, leaches out Dampness, and harmonizes the functions of the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

7. 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."

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang may be prescribed

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

Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aphasia, coma, thirst and red face. Patients with Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart typically exhibit overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses.

This is an Excess pattern and all the mental symptoms are caused by Phlegm obstructing the Heart so that the Mind (Shen) is disturbed and lose its residence at the Heart. This obstruction can lead to the loss of insight , manic depression, extreme mental instability or even brain injury. 

All the... read more about Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart

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

Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aphasia, coma, thirst and red face. Patients with Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium typically exhibit overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses.

The Pericardium is the guard and the first defense line of the Heart. Therefore when the Heart was invaded by Phlegm and Fire, the Pericardium suffers as well. Actually the related mental symptoms of these two Organs by Phlegm and Fire are quick similar with just different severe levels. 

Fire... read more about Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium

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