Saiga antelope's horns (Ling Yang Jiao) Gambir stems and thorns (Gou Teng) Mulberry leaves (Sang Ye) Chrysanthemum flowers (Ju Hua) White peony roots (Bai Shao) Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) Fritillary bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu) Bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru)

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Chinese: Líng Jiǎo Gǒu Téng Tāng

Pinyin: 羚角钩藤汤

Other names: Antelope Horn and Uncaria Decoction

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that pacify and extinguish Internal Wind

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: DysenteryPneumoniaEclampsia and three other conditions

  1. Cools the Liver
  2. Extinguishes Wind
  3. Increases Fluids
  4. Relaxes the sinews

Contraindications: Contraindicated in cases of wind due to Deficiency.

Source date: Qing dynasty

Source book: Revised Popular Guide to the Discussion of Cold Damage

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Saiga Antelope's Horns (Ling Yang Jiao) and Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng) as principal ingredients.

Invented in Qing dynasty, it belongs to the category of formulas that pacify and extinguish Internal Wind. Its main actions are: 1) cools the Liver and 2) extinguishes 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 Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat or Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as encephalitis, meningitis or dysentery for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the ten ingredients in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang helps treat.

The ten ingredients in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Ling Yang Jiao is a king ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Saiga Antelope's Horns (Ling Yang Jiao)

Part used: The horn

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Salty

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Ling Yang Jiao enters the Liver and Heart channels where it pacifies the Liver, extinguishes Wind, and clears Heat.

Learn more about Saiga Antelope's Horns (Ling Yang Jiao)

Gou Teng is a king ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng)

Part used: Dried stems and thorns from the branches

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: LiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Gou Teng restores the proper relationship between the Pericardium (Fire in the Five-Phases Theory) and the Liver (Wood) which helps extinguish Internal Wind.

Learn more about Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng)

Sang Ye is a deputy ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Mulberry Leaves (Sang Ye)

Part used: Dried leaves

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sang Ye's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and clears Heat. Clears Heat in the Lung with associated Dryness. Clears the Liver for either Wind-Heat or Yin Deficient Heat. Cools the Blood."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it dispels Wind and clears Heat from the Liver and Lungs.

Learn more about Mulberry Leaves (Sang Ye)

Ju Hua is a deputy ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua)

Part used: Dried capitulum

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: LiverLung

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Ju Hua's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and clears Heat. Relieves Wind-Heat from the Liver channel and clears the eyes. Cools Heat of the Liver and Kidney due to Yin Deficiency. Relieves patterns of Liver Yang rising."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it dispels Wind and clears Heat from the Liver and Lungs.

Learn more about Chrysanthemum Flowers (Ju Hua)

Bai Shao is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. 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 Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it nourishes the Yin and increases the Fluids and thereby softens the Liver and relaxes the sinews.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Di Huang is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

In general Di Huang's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it nourishes the Yin and increases the Fluids and thereby softens the Liver and relaxes the sinews.

Learn more about Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Chuan Bei Mu is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. 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

In general Chuan Bei Mu's main actions are as follows: "Clears Hot Phlegm and stops cough. Clears Lung Heat caused by Yin Deficiency. Clears Heat and reduces hard lumps and swellings."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it clears Heat and transforms Phlegm.

Learn more about Fritillary Bulbs (Chuan Bei Mu)

Zhu Ru is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

Part used: Dried middle shavings

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

In general Zhu Ru's main actions are as follows: "Clears Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. Clears Heat in the Stomach and stops vomiting. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it clears Heat and transforms Phlegm.

Learn more about Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

Fu Shen is an assistant ingredient in Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Part used: The part of the mushroom that is attached to the host-wood, dried

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeart

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

In general Fu Shen's main actions are as follows: "Calms the Mind (Shen) and promote urination."

In the context of Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it addresses the irritability and restlessness caused by Heat harassing the Mind.

Learn more about Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

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

10. 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 Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, it is used because it regulates and harmonizes the actions of the other ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Ling Jiao Gou Teng 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 Jiao Gou Teng 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:

Encephalitis Meningitis Dysentery Pneumonia Cerebrovascular disease Eclampsia

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang treats encephalitis" for instance. Rather, Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind encephalitis.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang.

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Thick coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Stiff

Symptoms: Coma Tremor Tingling Numbness Dizziness Paralysis Stiff neck Convulsions High temperature

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as tremor, tingling, numbness and dizziness. Patients with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses as well as a red tongue with thick coating, yellow coating.

The invasion of Exterior Wind-Heat leads to this pattern. It then turns into Interior Heat and penetrates deep into the Blood.

Once in the Blood, it can stir up the Wind, causing an Excess amount of Internal Wind. The underlying mechanic is that it injures the Yin (since Blood is Yin in nature) and... read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire. This pattern leads to symptoms such as tremor, irritability, outbursts of anger and tinnitus. Patients with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

Liver Fire may generate Wind when it persists for some years. This phenomenon can be compared to a forest fire that generates strong winds.

Internal Wind is characterized by either movement or lack of movement, such as spasms, tics, tremors, numbness, dizziness, convulsions or paralysis. Which is... read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

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