Korean mint (Huo Xiang) Houpu Magnolia bark (Hou Pu) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Perilla leaves (Zi Su Ye) Angelica roots (Bai Zhi) Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Areca peel (Da Fu Pi) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San

Chinese: 藿香正气散

Pinyin: Huò Xiāng Zhèng Qì Sàn

Other names: Agastache Upright Qi Powder, Agastache Powder to Rectify the Qi, Agastache Formula,

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that transform Dampness and harmonize Stomach

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: UrticariaStomach fluCommon cold and one other condition

  1. Releases the Exterior
  2. Transforms Dampness
  3. Regulates Qi
  4. Harmonizes the Middle Burner

Contraindications: Because this formula contains warm and drying herbs, it should not be used for... Because this formula contains warm and drying herbs, it should not be used for conditions of Wind-Heat or Fire due to Deficiency. see more

Source date: 1107 AD

Source book: Formulary of the Pharmacy Service for Benefiting the People in the Taiping Era

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is a 11-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Korean Mint (Huo Xiang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that transform Dampness and harmonize Stomach. Its main actions are: 1) releases the Exterior and 2) transforms Dampness.

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 Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Stomach Qi rebelling upwards, Damp-Heat or Summer Heat with Dampness. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as gastroenteritis, stomach flu or common cold for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eleven ingredients in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, we review the patterns and conditions that Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San helps treat.

The eleven ingredients in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San

Huo Xiang is a king ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Huo Xiang addresses all the major aspects of patterns characterized by the contraction of external Wind-Cold in the context of internal Dampness. It disperses Wind-Cold, transforms Dampness, revives the Spleen, and stops vomiting.

Learn more about Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Hou Pu is a deputy ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Part used: Dried stem bark, root bark or branch bark

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Hou Pu moves the Qi and promotes proper Fluids metabolism to expand the chest and reduce the sensation of fullness and stifling oppression in the chest.

Learn more about Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Chen Pi is a deputy ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. 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

In general Chen Pi's main actions are as follows: "Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs."

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it regulates the Qi, transforms Dampness, and harmonizes the functions of the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Zi Su Ye is a deputy ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Perilla Leaves (Zi Su Ye)

Part used: Dried leaf (or bearing young branches)

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Zi Su Ye's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Promotes the circulation of Spleen and Stomach Qi. Calms a restless fetus. Detoxifies seafood poisoning"

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it is a strong, Exterior-releasing herb that also harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Perilla Leaves (Zi Su Ye)

Bai Zhi is a deputy ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Bai Zhi's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind. Disperses Wind and Cold from the Yang Brightness channels. Relieves Wind-Damp Cold painful obstruction. Dries Dampness and pus and reduces swelling. Opens the nasal passages."

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it is very effective in treating headaches.

Learn more about Angelica Roots (Bai Zhi)

Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. 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

In general Ban Xia's main actions are as follows: "Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention."

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it harmonizes the Stomach and stops the vomiting.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Da Fu Pi is an assistant ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestineSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

Da Fu Pi acts upon the Qi mechanism in the Lower Burner and reinforces the actions of the key herb, which focuses on the Upper Burner.

Learn more about Areca Peel (Da Fu Pi)

Bai Zhu is an assistant ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. 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 Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it strengthens the Spleen and transforms Dampness.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Fu Ling's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit."

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it strengthens the Spleen and transforms Dampness.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Jie Geng is an assistant ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Jie Geng promotes the proper functioning of the Lungs and the diaphragm, which strengthens the actions of the key herb

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

11. 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."

In the context of Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, it is used because it harmonizes the actions of the other herbs and regulate the Spleen and Stomach.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San 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 Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is used by TCM practitioners to treat three 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:

Gastroenteritis Stomach flu Common cold Urticaria

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San treats gastroenteritis" for instance. Rather, Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind gastroenteritis.

Now let's look at the three patterns commonly treated with Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San.

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

Stomach Qi rebelling upwards

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Symptoms: Nausea Belching Vomiting Hiccuping Difficulty swallowing

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Qi rebelling upwards. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea, difficulty swallowing, belching and vomiting. Patients with Stomach Qi rebelling upwards typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

When the Qi of the Stomach is obstructed or interfered with it "rebels", meaning it ascends rather than descends.

It results in symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, belching and hiccups.

This frequently appears with other patterns, such as Stomach Fire, Stomach Qi Stagnation or Cold invading the... read more about Stomach Qi rebelling upwards

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

Damp-Heat

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as bitter taste in the mouth, scanty dark urination, aversion to cold and fever. Patients with Damp-Heat typically exhibit soggy (Ru) pulses.

Within the Four-Levels theory, Damp-Heat is the first level of invasion of External Pathogens, when it still resides in the body's Exterior.

The general symptoms of Damp-Heat are the heaviness of the body and head as well as low temperature fever rising in the afternoon. The patients are not hot on... read more about Damp-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

Summer Heat with Dampness

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Summer Heat with Dampness. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, lassitude, shortness of breath and sticky stools. Patients with Summer Heat with Dampness typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or soggy (Ru) pulses.

This pattern often happens during hot summer and in very humid environment. Therefore, the condition is mostly acute. 

The combination of Summer Heat and Dampness can att

read more about Summer Heat with Dampness

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