Poppy capsules (Ying Su Ke) Chinese plums (Wu Mei) Schisandra berries (Wu Wei Zi) Ginseng (Ren Shen) Donkey-hide gelatin (E Jiao) Coltsfoot flowers (Kuan Dong Hua) Fritillary bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu) Mulberry bark (Sang Bai Pi)

Chinese: 九仙散

Pinyin: Jiǔ Xiān Sàn

Other names: Nine-Immortal Powder

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that secure Lungs and stop coughing

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

  1. Secures the Lungs
  2. Stops coughing
  3. Augments Qi
  4. Nourishes Yin

Contraindications: This formula has rather strong Lung-restraining and antitussive effects.... This formula has rather strong Lung-restraining and antitussive effects. Without significant modification, it should not be used in cases with pronounced Phlegm or where there is a concurrent Exterior condition, even if the patient has suffered from long-term, unremitting cough and otherwise fits the presentation. see more

Source date: Yuan dynasty

Source book: recious Mirror of Health

Jiu Xian San is a 9-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Poppy Capsules (Ying Su Ke) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in Yuan dynasty, it belongs to the category of formulas that secure Lungs and stop coughing. Its main actions are: 1) secures the Lungs and 2) stops coughing.

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 Jiu Xian San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Lung Qi Deficiency or Lung Yin Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as chronic bronchitis, asthma or emphysema for instance.

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

The nine ingredients in Jiu Xian San

Ying Su Ke is a king ingredient in Jiu Xian San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Poppy Capsules (Ying Su Ke)

Part used: The capsule

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): PungentSour

Meridian affinity: KidneyLarge intestineLung

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Ying Su Ke is astringent and sour. In fact, it is the most effective herb in restraining the Lungs and stopping coughing. Frying it in honey increases its moistening quality and helps it to transform Phlegm. As this herb is illegal in most countries, it can be replaced by other herbs that restrains the Lungs such as Terminalia fruits or Ginkgo nuts.

Learn more about Poppy Capsules (Ying Su Ke)

Wu Mei is a deputy ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Chinese Plums (Wu Mei)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sour

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLiverLungSpleen

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Wu Mei assist the key herb in securing the Lungs and stopping the coughing. It is also said to enhance the Poppy capsule effect by  moderating its side effects.

Learn more about Chinese Plums (Wu Mei)

Wu Wei Zi is a deputy ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

In general Wu Wei Zi's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Kidneys and preserves the Essence. Astringes the Lung Qi and stops coughing. Retains Bodily Fluids and encourages their production. Tonifies the Heart and calms the spirit (Shen)."

In the context of Jiu Xian San, it is used because it helps Ginseng augment the Lung Qi.

Learn more about Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Ren Shen is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleen

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Ren Shen's main actions are as follows: "Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit)."

In the context of Jiu Xian San, it is used because it is very effective in tonifying and augmenting Qi. It supports the Lungs' function of dissemination.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

E Jiao is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Donkey-Hide Gelatin (E Jiao)

Part used: Solid glue prepared from the dried or fresh skin of donkeys

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiverLung

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general E Jiao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies and nourishes Blood. Stops bleeding. Moistens and lubricates Yin."

In the context of Jiu Xian San, it is used because it nourishes the Lung Yin, also serves a minor astringent function.

Learn more about Donkey-Hide Gelatin (E Jiao)

Kuan Dong Hua is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Coltsfoot Flowers (Kuan Dong Hua)

Part used: Dried flower bud

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Herbs that relieve coughing and wheezing

Kuan Dong Hua stop the coughing, transform Phlegm, and direct the Rebellious Qi downward to calm the wheezing. It is also lubricating and moistening.

Learn more about Coltsfoot Flowers (Kuan Dong Hua)

Chuan Bei Mu is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Part used: Dried bulb

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Chuan Bei Mu stop the coughing, transform Phlegm, and direct the Rebellious Qi downward to calm the wheezing. It also clears Lung Heat.

Learn more about Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Sang Bai Pi is an assistant ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi)

Part used: Dried root bark

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Sang Bai Pi stop the coughing, transform Phlegm, and direct the Rebellious Qi downward to calm the wheezing. It also clears Lung Heat.

Learn more about Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi)

Jie Geng is an envoy ingredient in Jiu Xian San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

9. 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 focuses the actions of all the ingredients on the Lungs, while also disseminating the Lungs and transforming the Phlegm.

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Conditions and patterns for which Jiu Xian 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 Jiu Xian San is used by TCM practitioners to treat two 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:

Chronic bronchitis Asthma Emphysema Silicosis Pertussis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Jiu Xian San treats chronic bronchitis" for instance. Rather, Jiu Xian San is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind chronic bronchitis.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Jiu Xian San.

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

Lung Qi Deficiency

Jiu Xian San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as spontaneous daytime sweating, aversion to speak, shortness of breath and coughing. Patients with Lung Qi Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) pulses as well as Pale or normal color tongue.

The Lungs govern Qi and respiration. Therefore there will be shortness of breath and coughing in case of Lung Qi Deficiency. However the condition is not severe as it is mostly on exertion and not full-blown symptoms of bronchitis or asthma.

Symptoms like coughing can also appear if Lungs' Qi... read more about Lung Qi Deficiency

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

Lung Yin Deficiency

Jiu Xian San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as hoarse voice, tickly throat, aversion to speak and thin chest. Patients with Lung Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as Normal or red color with no coating.

Exterior Heat and Dryness can invade the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. If it is not dealt with for a long time, it leads to Lung Yin Deficiency. Typical manifestations are dry cough, throat and mouth, aversion to speak as well as Hoarse voice. 

Other factors can cause this pattern such as the... read more about Lung Yin Deficiency

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