Notopterygium roots (Qiang Huo) Saposhnikovia roots (Fang Feng) Dong quai (Dang Gui) White peony roots (Bai Shao) Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Turmeric (Jiang Huang) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Jujube dates (Da Zao)

Juan Bi Tang

Chinese: 蠲痹汤

Pinyin: Juān Bì Tāng

Other names: Remove Painful Obstruction Decoction

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dispel Wind-Damp

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Rheumatoid arthritisPeriarthritis of the shoulder

  1. Tonifies and harmonizes the Protective and Nutritive Qi
  2. Dispels Wind
  3. Eliminates Dampness

Source date: 1178 AD

Source book: Yang Family Formulas

Juan Bi Tang is a 9-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo) and Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1178 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dispel Wind-Damp. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies and harmonizes the Protective and Nutritive Qi and 2) dispels Wind.

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 Juan Bi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm in the Joints or Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as periarthritis of the shoulder or rheumatoid arthritis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the nine ingredients in Juan Bi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Juan Bi Tang helps treat.

The nine ingredients in Juan Bi Tang

Qiang Huo is a king ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo)

Part used: Dried rhizome and root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: BladderKidney

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Qiang Huo is known to be the best herb in the Chinese Materia Medica for dispelling Wind-Dampness from the upper body.

Learn more about Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo)

Fang Feng is a king ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: BladderSpleenLiver

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Fang Feng's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Disperses Wind."

In the context of Juan Bi Tang, it is used because it opens the Yang and dispels Dampness without being too drying.

Learn more about Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Dang Gui is a deputy ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. 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 root (Shao Yao), another deputy here, to nourish the Blood and harmonize the Nutritive Qi, thereby facilitating the dispelling of the pathogenic Qi.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Bai Shao is a deputy ingredient in Juan Bi 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."

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

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

5. Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Huang Qi augments the Qi and firms up the protective Qi. In combination with Saposhnikovia root (Fang Feng), it dispels Wind-Damp, while in combination with Dong Quai (Dang Gui) and White peony root (Shao Yao), it harmonizes the nutritive and protective Qi.

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

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

6. Turmeric (Jiang Huang)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Jiang Huang invigorates the Blood and moves the Qi. It is specific for spasms and pain in the shoulders and upper arms.

Learn more about Turmeric (Jiang Huang)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Juan Bi 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

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 Juan Bi Tang, it is used because it harmonizes the functions of the other herbs.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Da Zao is an envoy ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

8. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Da Zao works together with Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang), another envoy in this formula, to harmonize the nutritive and protective Qi, enhancing the formula's ability to dispel Wind and Dampness.

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Sheng Jiang is an envoy ingredient in Juan Bi Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

9. 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 Juan Bi Tang 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 Juan Bi Tang 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:

Periarthritis of the shoulder Rheumatoid arthritis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Juan Bi Tang treats periarthritis of the shoulder" for instance. Rather, Juan Bi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind periarthritis of the shoulder.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Juan Bi Tang.

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm in the Joints

Juan Bi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in the Joints. This pattern leads to symptoms such as bone deformities, heaviness of achiness in the joints of limbs, numbness in the limbs and numbness of the muscles.

According to Chinese medicine, chronic rheumatoid arthritis or arthritis in general is seen as a form of Phlegm. As a reminder Phlegm occurs when the Body Fluids accumulate and become Stagnant during a long period of time. If they do so in the joints, this Phlegm manifests itself in arthritis and... read more about Phlegm in the Joints

Qi is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Qi in Chinese Medicine

Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Symptoms: Difficulty in moving Numbness in the extremities General sensation of heaviness Stiffness in the neck shoulder and upper back

Juan Bi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as general sensation of heaviness, numbness in the extremities, difficulty in moving and stiffness in the neck shoulder and upper back. Patients with Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency typically exhibit slowed-down (Huan) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Learn more about Painful Obstruction with Qi and Blood Deficiency

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