Dried ginger (Gan Jiang) Wild ginger (Xi Xin) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Schisandra berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Chinese: 苓甘五味姜辛汤

Pinyin: Líng Gān Wǔ Wèi Jiāng Xīn Tāng

Other names: Poria Licorice Schisandra Ginger and Asarum Decoction

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that warm and transform Phlegm-Cold

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Chronic asthmaChronic bronchitisObstructive pulmonary disease

  1. Warms the Lungs
  2. Transforms congested Fluids

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm and transform Phlegm-Cold. Its main actions are: 1) warms the Lungs and 2) transforms congested Fluids.

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 Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs, Phlegm-Fluids in the Lungs or Cold-Phlegm. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma or obstructive pulmonary disease for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the five ingredients in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang helps treat.

The five ingredients in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Gan Jiang is a king ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLungStomach

Category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

Gan Jiang warms the Lungs, disperses Cold, and transforms thin mucus. It also warms the Spleen Yang to eliminate Dampness.

Learn more about Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang)

Xi Xin is a deputy ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Wild Ginger (Xi Xin)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Xi Xin warms and disperses Cold from the Lungs to transform thin mucus. Aromatic and piercing, it successfully opens up the clumped Qi, thereby assisting the formula's key herb (Dried ginger - Gan Jiang) to unblock stagnation to facilitate the normal dissemination of Lung Qi and the dispelling of Pathogenic Cold and thin mucus.

Learn more about Wild Ginger (Xi Xin)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. 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: HeartKidneyLungSpleen

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Fu Ling strengthens the Spleen and leaches out Dampness and thereby treating the Cold-Phlegm problem at its source.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Wu Wei Zi is an assistant ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Wu Wei Zi restrains the leakage of Lung Qi and prevents its depletion by the dispersing actions of the other herbs.

Learn more about Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

5. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleenStomach

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 Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, it is used because it harmonizes the Middle Burner and the actions of the other herbs in the formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin 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 Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat four 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 Chronic asthma Obstructive pulmonary disease

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang treats chronic bronchitis" for instance. Rather, Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind chronic bronchitis.

Now let's look at the four patterns commonly treated with Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang.

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

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing, white and watery sputum, feeling of cold and cold hands. Patients with Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses.

The pathological manifestations of this pattern are quite similar to the ones of Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs. The key differences are the symptoms of Coldness such as cold hands, cold feeling and feeling of cold in chest. This feature can be reflected by the white and watery sputum. 

The typical... read more about Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs

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

Phlegm-Fluids in the Lungs

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Fluids in the Lungs. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing, white and watery sputum, shortness of breath and splashing sound in the chest. Patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the Lungs typically exhibit slippery (Hua), soggy (Ru), wiry (Xian) or fine (Xi) pulses.

This  pattern is similar to Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs. Both has the typical symptoms of Phlegm such as coughing, breathlessness, chest oppression, sputum, feeling of heaviness of the head and dizziness. Coughing and breathlessness happen because the Lung Qi can not descend accordingly. Chest... read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the Lungs

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

Cold-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Nausea Cold limbs Poor appetite White and watery sputum Feeling of oppression of the chest

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Cold-Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as white and watery sputum, feeling of oppression of the chest, cold limbs and nausea. Patients with Cold-Phlegm typically exhibit deep (Chen), slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as Pale and swollen tongue with white wet coating .

A famous saying in Chinese Medicine goes: "Phlegm has its source in the Kidneys, is then moved by the Spleen, and resides in the Lungs."

This couldn't be more obvious in Cold-Phlegm patterns. The "Cold" aspect of it is that it stems from a Fire Deficiency of the Gate of Life (Ming Men), which is... read more about Cold-Phlegm

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

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing, asthma, oedema and feeling of oppression of the chest. Patients with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as Swollen tongue with thick sticky white coating .

When Lung Qi is stagnant or Deficient (because, for instance, of Wind-Cold), Phlegm-Fluids (a type of Phlegm characterized by white, very watery and thin sputum) accumulates in the Lungs because they cannot fulfill their function of sending the Fluids down to the Kidneys or to the skin and muscles.... read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

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