Black atractylodes rhizomes (Cang Zhu) Houpu Magnolia bark (Hou Pu) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Ping Wei San

Chinese: 平胃散

Pinyin: Píng Wèi Sàn

Other names: Calm the Stomach Powder

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that transform Dampness and harmonize Stomach

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: ColitisAmenorrheaCervicitis and seven other conditions

  1. Dries Dampness
  2. Improves the Spleen's transportive function
  3. Promotes the movement of Qi
  4. Harmonizes the Stomach

Contraindications: This formula contains warm, drying herbs that readily injure the Yin and Blood,... This formula contains warm, drying herbs that readily injure the Yin and Blood, and should therefore only be used with significant modification for patients with Yin or Blood Deficiency. Caution must also be exercised when using the formula during pregnancy. see more

Source date: 1051 AD

Source book: Concise Formulas to Aid the Multitudes

Ping Wei San is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Black Atractylodes Rhizomes (Cang Zhu) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1051 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that transform Dampness and harmonize Stomach. Its main actions are: 1) dries Dampness and 2) improves the Spleen's transportive function.

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 Ping Wei San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Cold-Damp invading the Spleen or Obstruction Of The Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as peptic ulcers, chronic gastritis or colitis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the four ingredients in Ping Wei San, we review the patterns and conditions that Ping Wei San helps treat.

The four ingredients in Ping Wei San

Cang Zhu is a king ingredient in Ping Wei San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Black Atractylodes Rhizomes (Cang Zhu)

Part used: The dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Cang Zhu is perhaps the best Chinese herb for dispelling Dampness and strengthening the transportive function of the Spleen.

Learn more about Black Atractylodes Rhizomes (Cang Zhu)

Hou Pu is a deputy ingredient in Ping Wei San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. 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 Ping Wei San, it is used because it moves the Qi, disperses fullness, and directs the Qi downward. It also helps transform Dampness.

Learn more about Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Ping Wei San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp of the ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

Chen Pi Regulates the Qi and harmonizes the Stomach. It assists the deputy in directing Rebellious Qi downward and eliminating distention.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Ping Wei San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

4. 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 tonifies the Spleen and enhances their Spleen-strengthening properties of the formula's other ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Ping Wei San 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 Ping Wei San 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:

Peptic ulcers Chronic gastritis Colitis Irritable bowel syndrome Intestinal obstruction Infantile diarrhea Acute viral hepatitis Amenorrhea Premenstrual syndrome Cervicitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Ping Wei San treats peptic ulcers" for instance. Rather, Ping Wei San is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind peptic ulcers.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Ping Wei San.

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

Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

Ping Wei San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Cold-Damp invading the Spleen. This pattern leads to symptoms such as poor appetite, feeling of cold in the epigastrium, feeling of heaviness of the head and body and sweet taste in the mouth. Patients with Cold-Damp invading the Spleen typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses.

This is a description of the pattern in its acute stage, when the Spleen is invaded by exterior Dampness. The pattern can also become chronic, in which case the tongue would be more Pale and the pulse partly Weak or Soggy.

What causes the characteristic feeling of heaviness is the fact that... read more about Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

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

Obstruction Of The Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation

Ping Wei San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Obstruction Of The Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as feeling of oppression and fullness of the epigastrium, nausea, no appetite and loose stools. Patients with Obstruction Of The Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

When the Spleen is deficient and fails in its function of transformation and transportation, Fluids accumulate into Dampness.

Dampness then obstructs the Middle Burner which hampers the proper flow of Qi and results in Liver Qi Stagnation

The relationship is also described in the Five Phases... read more about Obstruction Of The Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation

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