Inula flowers (Xuan Fu Hua) Ephedra (Ma Huang) Japanese catnip (Jing Jie) Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Hogfennel roots (Qian Hu) Red peony roots (Chi Shao) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Chinese: 金沸草散

Pinyin: Jīn fèi cǎo sàn

Other names: Inula Powder

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Wind-Cold

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AsthmaWheezingInfluenza and two other conditions

  1. Disperses Wind-Cold
  2. Descends Lung Qi
  3. Transform Phlegm
  4. Stop cough and calms wheezing

Source date: 1107 AD

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

Jin Fei Cao San is a 9-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua) and Ephedra (Ma Huang) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Wind-Cold. Its main actions are: 1) disperses Wind-Cold and 2) descends Lung 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.

From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as common cold, influenza or wheezing for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the nine ingredients in Jin Fei Cao San, we review the patterns and conditions that Jin Fei Cao San helps treat.

The nine ingredients in Jin Fei Cao San

Xuan Fu Hua is a king ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua)

Part used: Dried capitulum

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestineLiverLung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Xuan Fu Hua assists the Lung Qi to flow smoothly and descend properly, so as to relieve the cough and wheezing.  This herb disperses the Wind-Cold Evils and Phlegm by directing the Qi downward. As a result, it treats the Exterior Wind-Cold and Interior Phlegm accumulation.

Learn more about Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua)

Ma Huang is a king ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Ephedra (Ma Huang)

Part used: Dried herbaceous stems

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: BladderLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Ma Huang assists the Lung Qi to flow smoothly and descend properly, so as to relieve the cough and wheezing.  This herb disperses the Wind-Cold Evils and Phlegm by directing the Qi downward. As a result, it treats the Exterior Wind-Cold and Interior Phlegm accumulation.

Learn more about Ephedra (Ma Huang)

Jing Jie is a deputy ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie)

Part used: Aerial portion and flowers, or the spikes only (in which case it is called Jing Jie Sui)

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Jing Jie's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold or Heat depending on the other herbs used. Releases the Exterior for measles. Stops bleeding. Abates swellings."

In the context of Jin Fei Cao San, it is used because it helps the key herbs to release the Wind-Cold Evil from the Exterior.

Learn more about Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie)

Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach

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 Jin Fei Cao San, it is used because it transforms Phlegm, dries Dampness, descends Qi and relieves the cough.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Qian Hu is an assistant ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Hogfennel Roots (Qian Hu)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

In general Qian Hu's main actions are as follows: "Directs the ascending flow of Lung Qi downward to stop cough. Expels Phlegm. Expels Wind and relieves the Exterior for Wind-Heat."

In the context of Jin Fei Cao San, it is used because it spreads the Lung Qi, removes Phlegm, relieves the cough, and descends Qi.

Learn more about Hogfennel Roots (Qian Hu)

Chi Shao is an assistant ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: Liver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Chi Shao cools the Blood and clears Heat.  Together with Jujube dates (Da Zao), it nourishes and cools the Yin and nutritive levels according to the Four Level Theory. As a result, it protect them from the acrid and warm effect of the other herbs of the formula as well as the Wind-Heat Evils.  It also clears Heat caused by Wind-Cold Stagnation in Channels. 

Learn more about Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. 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: HeartLungSpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao harmonizes the Middle Burner, strengthens Qi, and harmonizes the various actions of the herbs in the formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Sheng Jiang is an envoy ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

8. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Sheng Jiang harmonize the Nutritive and Protective levels of the Four Level Theory.  It also assists Ephedra (Ma Huang) and Japanese catnip (Jing Jie) in releasing Wind-Cold from the Exterior.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Jin Fei Cao San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

9. 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 Jin Fei Cao San, it is used because it harmonize the Nutritive and Protective levels of the Four Level Theory.

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Formulas similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang is 56% similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Xing Su San is 45% similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is 44% similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Wen Dan Tang is 44% similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Xiao Chai Hu Tang is 44% similar to Jin Fei Cao San

Da Qing Long Tang is 44% similar to Jin Fei Cao San