Bupleurum roots (Chai Hu) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Turmeric (Jiang Huang) Bitter oranges (Zhi Ke) Green tangerine peel (Qing Pi) Rhubarb (Da Huang) White peony roots (Bai Shao) Hawthorn berries (Shan Zha)

Pai Shi Tang

Chinese: 排石汤

Pinyin: Pái shí tāng

Other names: Discharge Stones Decoction

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: GallstonesHepatic calculusCommon Bile Duct Stone

  1. Discharge Gallstones
  2. Clear Damp-Heat
  3. Facilitate urination

Pai Shi Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) as a principal ingredient.

It belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness. Its main actions are: 1) discharge Gallstones and 2) clear Damp-Heat.

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 Pai Shi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as hepatic calculus, common bile duct stone or gallstones for instance.

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

The ten ingredients in Pai Shi Tang

Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiver

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Chai Hu's main actions are as follows: "Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it smoothes the Liver. .

Learn more about Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. 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."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it expels Damp-Heat and cools the Liver. It also clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood.  .

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Jiang Huang is a deputy ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Turmeric (Jiang Huang)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Jiang Huang invigorates Blood, smooths the Liver by removing Stagnation and reduces associated pain. It also clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder. 

Learn more about Turmeric (Jiang Huang)

Zhi Ke is a deputy ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Bitter Oranges (Zhi Ke)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Zhi Ke's main actions are as follows: "To regulate the flow of Qi, remove its stagnation, and alleviate distension."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it regulate the flow of Qi, remove its stagnation and alleviate distension. .

Learn more about Bitter Oranges (Zhi Ke)

Qing Pi is an assistant ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Green Tangerine Peel (Qing Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp of the young or immature fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLiver

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Qing Pi's main actions are as follows: "Smooths the flow of Liver Qi and releases Stagnation. Reduces Food Stagnation. Dries Damp and reduces Phlegm."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it smooths the flow of Liver Qi and releases Stagnation. It also dries Dampness and reduces Phlegm..

Learn more about Green Tangerine Peel (Qing Pi)

Da Huang is an assistant ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. 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

Da Huang drains Excess Heat and Toxin as well as eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Bright Yang stage according to the Six Stages Theory. It also invigorates Blood, remove Stagnation and relieves associated pain. It is often used for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Learn more about Rhubarb (Da Huang)

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

7. 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 nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Liver Qi. It also regulates the Meridians, eases associated pain, tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Shan Zha is an assistant ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Hawthorn Berries (Shan Zha)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

Shan Zha invigorates the Blood and breaks Blood Stagnation. It also improves digestion and reduces Food Stagnation. 

Learn more about Hawthorn Berries (Shan Zha)

Chuan Lian Zi is an assistant ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Sichuan Chinaberries (Chuan Lian Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiverSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Chuan Lian Zi's main actions are as follows: "Clears Damp Heat. Circulates Qi. Relieves chest, epigastric and abdominal pains. Expels parasites."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it clears Damp-Heat, circulates Qi as well as relieves pain in chest, epigastric and abdomen. .

Learn more about Sichuan Chinaberries (Chuan Lian Zi)

Jin Qian Cao is an assistant ingredient in Pai Shi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Gold Coin Herb (Jin Qian Cao)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): SaltySweet

Meridian affinity: BladderGallbladderKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Jin Qian Cao's main actions are as follows: "Drains damp-heat. Promotes urination. Cools heat and disperses swellings. Cools blood and dispels toxicity."

In the context of Pai Shi Tang, it is used because it drains Damp-Heat, promotes urination, cools Heat, dispels toxicity and disperses swellings. .

Learn more about Gold Coin Herb (Jin Qian Cao)

Pai Shi Tang is used to treat Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

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 Pai Shi Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Hepatic calculus Common Bile Duct Stone Gallstones

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Pai Shi Tang treats hepatic calculus" for instance. Rather, Pai Shi Tang is used to treat Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder, which is sometimes the root cause behind hepatic calculus.

Now let's look at Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Pai Shi Tang.

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

Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Back pain Gallstones Bloody urine Abdomen pain Kidney stones Epigastric pain Urinary difficulty Frequent and urgent urination

Pai Shi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder. This pattern leads to symptoms such as frequent and urgent urination, urinary difficulty, bloody urine and gallstones. Patients with Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as Swollen tongue with yellow sticky coating.

According to Chinese medicine, gallstones or Kidney stones are a form of Phlegm. It is the consequence of Phlegm left untreated in the Gallbladder and the Kidneys.

Over a long period of time, stagnant Dampness can give rise to a large amount of Heat which then dries up Body Fluids and solidify read more about Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

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