Ox gallstones (Niu Huang) Goldthread rhizomes (Huang Lian) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi)

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Chinese: 牛黃清心丸

Pinyin: Niú Huáng Qīng Xīn Wán

Other names: Wan's Cattle Gallstone Pill to Clear the Heart, Wan Shi Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and open sensory orifices

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: PertussisMeningitisAphthous ulcers and one other condition

  1. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity
  2. Calms the Mind
  3. Opens up the Orifices

Contraindications: Contraindicated for long-term use due to the intense bitter and cold nature of... Contraindicated for long-term use due to the intense bitter and cold nature of this formula. see more

Source date: 1568 AD

Source book: Essential Teachings about Pox and Rashes Passed down in Medical Lineages

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ox Gallstones (Niu Huang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1568 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and open sensory orifices. Its main actions are: 1) clears Heat and resolves Toxicity and 2) calms the Mind.

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 Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Heat invading the Pericardium. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as viral encephalitis, meningitis or pertussis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan, we review the patterns and conditions that Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan helps treat.

The six ingredients in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Niu Huang is a king ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Ox Gallstones (Niu Huang)

Part used: Gallstones (hardened deposits of bile that form in the ox's gallbladder)

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Niu Huang excels at clearing intense Heat from the Heart and Liver while also removing pathogens from the Pericardium. At the same time, this ingredient is very adapted to dislodge Phlegm, to open the orifices, to extinguish Wind, and to stop tremors.

Learn more about Ox Gallstones (Niu Huang)

Huang Lian is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenStomachHeartLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Lian , together with Baikal skullcap root (Huang Qin) and Cape jasmine fruit (Zhi Zi), other deputies in this formula, is good at clearing Heat, draining Fire, and resolving toxicity.  They are used here to help the Ox gallstone in clearing Heat from the Heart and resolving toxicity. Indeed, according to authoritative Chinese Medicine literature, Huang Lian "enters the Heart and Pericardium where it is the ultimate at draining fire. It is also able to enter the Liver. While it can guide into both of these Meridians, it is especially entrusted [to guide other herbs] to enter the Heart".

Learn more about Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenHeartLarge intestineLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

In general Huang Qin's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome."

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Zhi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLungSanjiao

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

In general Zhi Zi's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory."

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Yu Jin is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Turmeric Tubers (Yu Jin)

Part used: Dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiverLung

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Yu Jin enters the Heart and Liver Meridians to cool the Blood, clears the Heat, promotes proper movement of Qi, and releases areas of stagnation. It helps Ox gallstone (Niu Huang) to clear the Heart and open the orifices.

Learn more about Turmeric Tubers (Yu Jin)

6. Cinnabar (Zhu Sha)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Heart

Category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

In general Zhu Sha's main actions are as follows: "Calms the spirit and Heart. Stops convulsions. Clears Heat and toxins."

Learn more about Cinnabar (Zhu Sha)

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is used to treat Heat invading the Pericardium

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 Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is mostly used to treat the pattern "Heat invading the Pericardium" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Heat invading the Pericardium here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Viral encephalitis Meningitis Pertussis Aphthous ulcers

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan treats viral encephalitis" for instance. Rather, Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is used to treat Heat invading the Pericardium, which is sometimes the root cause behind viral encephalitis.

Now let's look at Heat invading the Pericardium, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan.

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

Heat invading the Pericardium

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

Symptoms: Fever Irritability Restlnessness Delirious speech Impaired consciousness General sensation of unease

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heat invading the Pericardium. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fever, irritability, restlnessness and general sensation of unease. Patients with Heat invading the Pericardium typically exhibit rapid (Shu), wiry (Xian) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a reddish-purple tongue.

Learn more about Heat invading the Pericardium

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