Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Maltose (Yi Tang) Cinnamon bark (Rou Gui) White peony roots (Bai Shao)

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Chinese: 黄芪建中汤

Pinyin: Huáng Qí Jiàn Zhōng Tāng

Other names: Astragalus Decoction to Construct the Middle, Milkvetch Decoction to Construct the Middle

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold

Mother formula: Xiao Jian Zhong Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AnemiaColitisDyspnea and thirty five other conditions

  1. Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach)
  2. Tonifies Qi
  3. Relieves spasmodic pain

Contraindications: Contraindicated for Heat from Yin Deficiency. It should not be used without... Contraindicated for Heat from Yin Deficiency. It should not be used without modification in patients with vomiting or roundworms because these conditions are often aggravated by sweet substances. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) and Maltose (Yi Tang) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold. Its main actions are: 1) warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach) and 2) tonifies Qi.

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 Qi Jian Zhong Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Empty-Cold. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as gastric ulcer, gastralgia or gastroptosis for instance.

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

The seven ingredients in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Huang Qi is sweet and warm.  It is considered one of the top Qi tonifying herbs in TCM. It is entirely Yang in nature and it strongly stimulates the Qi dynamic. It raises the Yang and disperses the Blood and Essences throughout the entire body.

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Yi Tang is a king ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Maltose (Yi Tang)

Part used: The sugar

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Yi Tang Tonifies both the Qi and Blood, generates Fluids, alleviates thirst, and moderates abdominal pain.  Records of Thoughtful Differentiation of Materia Medica describes Maltose as the "quintessence of a quintessence" because it is distilled from grains such as rice, wheat, or barley, all of which are associated with sweetness and earth. Containing the very essence of earth makes it ideally suited to tonifying the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Maltose (Yi Tang)

Rou Gui is a deputy ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Part used: Dried stem bark

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLiver

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

In general Rou Gui's main actions are as follows: "Warms the Spleen and Kidneys and tonifies the Yang. Expels Cold, Warms the meridians, promotes circulation of Qi and Blood and relieves pain. Used with tonics to assist in the generation of Qi and Blood."

In the context of Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, it is used because it warms the Middle Burner and disperses Cold.

Learn more about Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui)

Bai Shao is a deputy ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Bai Shao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain."

In the context of Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, it is used because it benefits the Yin with its sweet and sour taste.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Sheng Jiang is an assistant ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sheng Jiang's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning."

In the context of Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, it is used because it tonifies the protective Qi and strengthen the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. 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."

In the context of Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, it is used because it tonifies the protective Qi and strengthen the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

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

7. 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 works with the deputy herbs to stop spasmodic abdominal pain. It also harmonizes the functions of the Middle Burner and of the formula in general.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is used to treat Empty-Cold

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 Qi Jian Zhong Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Empty-Cold" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Empty-Cold here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Gastric ulcer Gastralgia Gastroptosis Duodenal ulcer Neurasthenia Irritable bowel syndrome Leukemia Dysmenorrhea Polyuria Hemorrhoids Rectal prolapse Strangury Otorrhea Urinary incontinence Chronic otitis media Gangrene Colitis Anorexia Leukopenia Hypoglycemia Pulmonary tuberculosis Ancylostomiasis Endometriosis Jaundice Constipation Diarrhea Hematemesis Impotence Male menopause Indigestion Dyspnea Cirrhosis of the Liver Gastritis Rhinitis Anemia Hepatitis Dysentery Pancreatis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang treats gastric ulcer" for instance. Rather, Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is used to treat Empty-Cold, which is sometimes the root cause behind gastric ulcer.

Now let's look at Empty-Cold, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang.

'Deficient' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Deficiency / Empty in Chinese Medicine

Empty-Cold

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Empty-Cold. This pattern leads to symptoms such as weak limbs, shortness of breath, aversion to cold and palpitations. Patients with Empty-Cold typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses.

Full-Cold is mainly caused by external Cold Evil invasion or Yin Excess, while Empty-Cold is largely due to Deficient Yang or Qi, which fails to warm the body. Therefore the patients have cold limbs,  feel cold and dislike cold. 

Both pattern has Cold manifestations, but the Empty type is more for... read more about Empty-Cold

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