Hemp seeds (Huo Ma Ren) Apricot seeds (Xing Ren) White peony roots (Bai Shao) Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Ma Zi Ren Wan

Chinese: 麻子仁丸

Pinyin: Má Zǐ Rén Wán

Other names: Hemp Seed Pill, Cannabis Pill,

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that moisten Intestines and unblock bowels

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: HemorrhoidsConstipationReflux gastritis and five other conditions

  1. Moistens the Intestines
  2. Invigorates Qi
  3. Unblocks the bowels
  4. Drains Heat

Contraindications: Contraindicated during pregnancy. It should also be used with caution when... Contraindicated during pregnancy. It should also be used with caution when treating constipation only due to Blood Deficiency or these who are very weak. It is because the formula is very strong and most herbs has the function of draining, dispersing, or purgative. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage

Ma Zi Ren Wan is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Hemp Seeds (Huo Ma Ren) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that moisten Intestines and unblock bowels. Its main actions are: 1) moistens the Intestines and 2) invigorates 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.

In this case Ma Zi Ren Wan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Heat in the Large Intestine or Large Intestine Dryness. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as incomplete intestinal obstruction, postoperative ileus or atrophic gastritis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the seven ingredients in Ma Zi Ren Wan, we review the patterns and conditions that Ma Zi Ren Wan helps treat.

The seven ingredients in Ma Zi Ren Wan

Huo Ma Ren is a king ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Hemp Seeds (Huo Ma Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestine

Category: Laxative herbs that drain downward

In general Huo Ma Ren's main actions are as follows: "Moistens the Intestines and unblocks Food Stagnation caused by Dryness. Nourishes the Yin and relieves constipation caused by Yin Deficiency. Cools Heat and aids healing of sores."

In the context of Ma Zi Ren Wan, it is used because it is rich in oils which can be used to moisten the Intestines and unblock the bowels.

Learn more about Hemp Seeds (Huo Ma Ren)

Xing Ren is a deputy ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLung

Category: Herbs that relieve coughing and wheezing

In general Xing Ren's main actions are as follows: "Stops cough and wheezing caused by either Heat or Cold. Lubricates the Intestines and relieves constipation."

In the context of Ma Zi Ren Wan, it is used because it is rich in oil which helps bowel movement. It also support Qi descending.

Learn more about Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Bai Shao is a deputy ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Bai Shao is bitter, sour, and slightly cold. It enters the Spleen, nourishes the Yin and harmonizes the interior.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Zhi Shi is an assistant ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Part used: Dried unripe fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Zhi Shi's main actions are as follows: "Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs."

In the context of Ma Zi Ren Wan, it is used because it breaks up accumulation, particularly in the Intestines.

Learn more about Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Hou Pu is an assistant ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Part used: Dried stem bark, root bark or branch bark

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

In general Hou Pu's main actions are as follows: "Moves Rebellious Qi downward, dries Dampness and relieves Food Stagnation. Transforms Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Qi of the Lung."

In the context of Ma Zi Ren Wan, it is used because it removes the feeling of fullness or distention.

Learn more about Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Da Huang is an assistant ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Rhubarb (Da Huang)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestineLiverPericardium

Category: Purgative herbs that drain downward

In general Da Huang's main actions are as follows: "Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Sunlight Yang stage. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis."

In the context of Ma Zi Ren Wan, it is used because it is a purgative.

Learn more about Rhubarb (Da Huang)

Feng Mi is an envoy ingredient in Ma Zi Ren Wan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

7. Honey (Feng Mi)

Part used: Honey

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLarge intestineLung

Category: Laxative herbs that drain downward

Feng Mi is sweet and it harmonizes the actions of the other herbs. It also moistens the Intestines and helps forming the pill shape.

Learn more about Honey (Feng Mi)

Conditions and patterns for which Ma Zi Ren Wan 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 Ma Zi Ren Wan 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:

Incomplete intestinal obstruction Postoperative ileus Atrophic gastritis Reflux gastritis Hemorrhoids Bleeding post-hemorrhoidectomy Habitual constipation Constipation

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ma Zi Ren Wan treats incomplete intestinal obstruction" for instance. Rather, Ma Zi Ren Wan is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind incomplete intestinal obstruction.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Ma Zi Ren Wan.

The Large Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Large Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Heat in the Large Intestine

Ma Zi Ren Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heat in the Large Intestine. This pattern leads to symptoms such as anus swelling, constipation, burning sensation in the mouth and burning sensation in the anus. Patients with Heat in the Large Intestine typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or full (Shi) pulses.

Generally speaking, this pattern happens more as acute condition. The Full Heat burns the Body Fluids in the Large Intestine and give rises to Dryness, hence the symptoms of dry stools, burning and swelling of anus, thick yellow dry coating and a Rapid pulse. 

The Stomach is closely related to the... read more about Heat in the Large Intestine

The Large Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Large Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Large Intestine Dryness

Pulse type(s): Fine (Xi)

Symptoms: Dry mouth Thin body Dizziness Dry stools Dry throat Bad breath

Ma Zi Ren Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Large Intestine Dryness. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry stools, dry mouth, dry throat and thin body. Patients with Large Intestine Dryness typically exhibit fine (Xi) pulses.

This pattern is featured by a state of Dryness and Body Fluids Deficiency in the Large Intestine and the Stomach, hence the symptoms of dry mouth, dry throat and dry stools. Also, it always happens together with Stomach Yin Deficiency, because the Stomach and the Large Intestine are closely... read more about Large Intestine Dryness

Formulas similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

Da Cheng Qi Tang is 43% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

Si Ni San is 29% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

Wu Tou Tang is 29% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan is 25% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan is 25% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan

San Ren Tang is 25% similar to Ma Zi Ren Wan