Bupleurum roots (Chai Hu) White peony roots (Bai Shao) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Mudan peony bark (Mu Dan Pi) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi)

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Chinese: 加味逍遥散

Pinyin: Jiā Wèi Xiāo Yáo Sàn

Other names: Bupleurum and Peony Combination, Augmented Rambling Powder

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that harmonize Liver-Spleen

Mother formula: Xiao Yao San

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: InfertilityMenorrhagiaMenstrual cramps and four other conditions

  1. Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation
  2. Tonifies Spleen
  3. Clears Deficient Heat
  4. Nourishes the blood

Source date: Ming dynasty

Source book: Summary of Internal Medicine

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in Ming dynasty, it belongs to the category of formulas that harmonize Liver-Spleen. Its main actions are: 1) clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation and 2) tonifies Spleen.

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 Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire, Liver Qi Stagnation or Heat in the Blood. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as menstrual cramps, early menstruation or absence of menstruation for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the ten ingredients in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, we review the patterns and conditions that Jia Wei Xiao Yao San helps treat.

The ten ingredients in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiver

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Chai Hu spreads the Liver Qi, relieves stagnation and helps guide the other herbs into the Liver. Because of its cooling nature, it is also particularly dealing with Qi Stagnation that has started to generate Heat.

Learn more about Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Bai Shao is a deputy ingredient in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. 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 Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, it is used because it moves Qi and is specific for menstrual problems, especially from emotional stress.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. 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 Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, it is used because it strengthens the Spleen.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. 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 tonifies the Spleen and, when combined with White peony roots (as is the case here), helps reduce the spasms that are often a symptoms for patients that use this formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

5. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui works together with White peony roots, the other deputy in this formula, to nourish Blood. This nourishing role also in turn helps strengthen the Liver since it stores Blood and is nourished by it.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

6. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Bai Zhu works together with Poria mushrooms (Fu Ling) to strengthen the Spleen. Indeed, as described in the famous TCM treaty Essentials from the Golden Cabinet: "When one sees a Liver disorder, one knows that the Liver will transmit it to the Spleen. Therefore, one should first treat the Spleen." Strengthening the Spleen, since it "rules transformation and transportation", has a direct positive impact on Blood-Deficiency.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

7. Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi)

Part used: Root barks

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

In general Mu Dan Pi's main actions are as follows: "Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis."

Learn more about Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi)

8. 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

In general Zhi Zi's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory."

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

9. Wild Mint (Bo He)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Bo He's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat from the head, eyes and throat. Allows the release of toxins from the skin. Moves Stagnant Liver Qi"

Learn more about Wild Mint (Bo He)

10. 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."

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Conditions and patterns for which Jia Wei Xiao Yao 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 Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is used by TCM practitioners to treat five 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:

Menstrual cramps Early menstruation Absence of menstruation Infertility Menorrhagia Menopausal syndrome Painful menstruation

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Jia Wei Xiao Yao San treats menstrual cramps" for instance. Rather, Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind menstrual cramps.

Now let's look at the five patterns commonly treated with Jia Wei Xiao Yao San.

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire. This pattern leads to symptoms such as feeling of distension, irritability, feeling of heat and menstrual cramps. Patients with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red points on the sides tongue.

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Heat. It manifests with a feeling of heat, a red face and desire to drink.

From a mental emotional perspective, patients tend to be irritable, anxious, moody and prone to outbursts of... read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

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

Liver Qi Stagnation

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as depression, irregular menstruation, menstrual cramps and irritability. Patients with Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a normal (light red) tongue.

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. This affects not only the Liver, but other connected Organs too as well as the Seven Emotions.

Liver Qi Stagnation is not only the most seen Liver disharmony, but also... read more about Liver Qi Stagnation

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

Heat in the Blood

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heat in the Blood. This pattern leads to symptoms such as frequent bleeding episodes, fever, feeling of heat and red skin eruptions. Patients with Heat in the Blood typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses as well as a red tongue.

The most common cause of Heat in the Blood is a Heat Pernicious Influence that has invaded the body and agitates the Blood. This results in accelerated blood flow which manifests itself in a rapid pulse, expanded and damaged Blood vessels and often heavy bleeding. The Blood will be fresh red or... read more about Heat in the Blood

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