Dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong) Ginseng (Ren Shen) Nonglutinous japonica rice (Jing Mi) Jujube dates (Da Zao)

Mai Men Dong Tang

Chinese: 麦门冬汤

Pinyin: Mài Mén Dōng Tāng

Other names: Dwarf lilyturf Decoction, Ophiopogonis Decoction

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that enrich Yin and moisten Dryness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AsthmaDiabetesPertussis and eleven other conditions

  1. Nourishes the Stomach
  2. Generates Body Fluids
  3. Directs Rebellious Qi downward

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with Dampness or Lung atrophy due to Cold from... Contraindicated for patients with Dampness or Lung atrophy due to Cold from Deficiency. Use with caution if there is high fever and irritability. see more

Source date: 220 AD

Source book: Essentials from the Golden Cabinet

Mai Men Dong Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that enrich Yin and moisten Dryness. Its main actions are: 1) nourishes the Stomach and 2) generates Body 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 Mai Men Dong Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Lung Yin Deficiency, Stomach Yin Deficiency or Stomach Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as morning sickness, lung atrophy or laryngitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Mai Men Dong Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Mai Men Dong Tang helps treat.

The six ingredients in Mai Men Dong Tang

Mai Dong is a king ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Part used: Dried root tuber

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

Mai Dong clears Heat caused due to Stomach Deficiency and generates Body Fluids in the Stomach and Lungs. It is very useful in treating Lung atrophy. Together with Ginseng it is an especially powerful combination to rise the Qi and Yin in the Lungs and Stomach.

Learn more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Ren Shen is a deputy ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen tonifies Qi, generates Body Fluids, and rises the Qi as well as Yin. With Mai Men Dong (Dwarf lilyturf) it makes an especially powerful combination to rise the Qi and Yin in the Lungs and Stomach.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Jing Mi is an assistant ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Nonglutinous Japonica Rice (Jing Mi)

Part used: Seed kernels

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Jing Mi's main actions are as follows: "Replenishes Qi and tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Eliminates thirst. Stops diarrhea."

In the context of Mai Men Dong Tang, it is used because it work closely with the king and deputy herbs to tonify the Stomach Qi and generate Body Fluids.

Learn more about Nonglutinous Japonica Rice (Jing Mi)

Da Zao is an assistant ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Da Zao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula."

In the context of Mai Men Dong Tang, it is used because it work closely with the king and deputy herbs to tonify the Stomach Qi and generate Body Fluids.

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao it has a relatively strong action in tonifying the Stomach. It can also improves the throat issue often encountered by patients who suffer from the patterns solved by this formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Mai Men Dong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Ban Xia facilitates the Stomach Qi flow and guides the Qi downward. The warm, acrid, drying nature of this herb is moderated by the moistening herbs in the formula and by its relatively low dosage. In fact, adding a small amount of this acrid, dispersing herb to the formula will assist in the distribution of nourishment from the Middle Burner to the Upper Burner, and redirect the Qi, thereby facilitating the replenishment of Body Fluids in the Lungs.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Conditions and patterns for which Mai Men Dong 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 Mai Men Dong Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat three 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:

Morning sickness Lung atrophy Laryngitis Pertussis Bronchiectasis Pneumonia Acute bronchitis Chronic bronchitis Asthma Hypertension Diabetes Peptic ulcers Reactive lymphoid hyperplasia Radiation therapy side effects

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Mai Men Dong Tang treats morning sickness" for instance. Rather, Mai Men Dong Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind morning sickness.

Now let's look at the three patterns commonly treated with Mai Men Dong Tang.

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

Lung Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Symptoms: Insomnia Red lips Dry cough Dry mouth Tiredness Weak voice Dry throat Depression Blood spit Chest pain Malar flush Night sweats Frequent sighing Hot palms and soles Shortness of breath Thin body lacking strength

Mai Men Dong Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Lung Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dry cough, weak voice, dry mouth and dry throat. Patients with Lung Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of 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. Other factors can cause this pattern such as the Deficiency of Kidneys or Stomach Yin as well as prolonged Lung Qi Deficiency due to excessive... read more about Lung Yin Deficiency

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

Stomach Yin Deficiency

Mai Men Dong Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as epigastric pain, dry mouth, poor appetite and feeling of heat in the afternoon. Patients with Stomach Yin Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with partial absence of coating.

The Stomach is responsible for receiving foods and drinks, ripening them and sending them to the Spleen for further digestion. Therefore, the Stomach is the origin of Body Fluids. It is also an Organ that likes Cold and Dampness which are both Yin characteristics. Stomach Yin Deficiency harms the... read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency

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

Stomach Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Tiredness Dry mouth Depression Poor appetite Feeling of cold Nausea or vomiting

Mai Men Dong Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, tiredness, feeling of cold and poor appetite. Patients with Stomach Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Stomach Deficiency

Formulas similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Xiao Chai Hu Tang is 57% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang is 57% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang is 57% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Liu Jun Zi Tang is 50% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Ju Pi Zhu Ru Tang is 50% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is 38% similar to Mai Men Dong Tang