Phellodendron bark (Huang Bo) Anemarrhena rhizomes (Zhi Mu) Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) Goldthread rhizomes (Huang Lian) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Kombu (Kun Bu) Forsythia fruits (Lian Qiao) Snake gourd roots (Tian Hua Fen)

Chinese: 散肿溃坚汤

Pinyin: Sàn Zhǒng Kuì Jiān Tāng

Other names: Decoction to Disperse Swelling and Ulcerate What is Hard

Number of ingredients: 17 herbs

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: GoiterScrofulaNeck tumors and five other conditions

  1. Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity
  2. Reduces swelling
  3. Induces ulceration
  4. Moves the Blood and dispels stasis

Contraindications: This formula contains several bitter, drying, and dispersing herbs. Care must... This formula contains several bitter, drying, and dispersing herbs. Care must be taken to protect the patient's Yin Fluids and Qi. Elderly and debilitated patients may require simultaneous or intermittent tonification when this formula is used. see more

Source date: 1336 AD

Source book: Secrets from the Orchid Chamber

San Zhong Kui Jian Tang is a 17-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo), Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu), Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao), Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian) and Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin) as principal ingredients.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the seventeen ingredients in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that San Zhong Kui Jian Tang helps treat.

The seventeen ingredients in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang

Huang Bo is a king ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Part used: Dried bark

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderKidneyLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Bo clears Toxic-Heat. It addresses the accumulated Heat that occurs at the area
of the tumor and also the Heat of specific Organs that are the root cause of the tumor.

Learn more about Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Zhi Mu is a king ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLungStomach

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

Zhi Mu clears Heat while also protecting Yin that is susceptible to damage from the Heat
accumulation and the bitter, drying herbs in the formula. The combination of Anemarrhena rhizome, Platycodon root and Snake gourd root is very effect in performing this task.  It, together with the other bitter and downward herbs, also directs Fire to descend and cease its attack on the upper body, and sweeps Phlegm-Heat downward.

Learn more about Anemarrhena Rhizomes (Zhi Mu)

Long Dan Cao is a king ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

3. Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLarge intestineLiverLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Long Dan Cao clears Toxic-Heat. It addresses the accumulated Heat that occurs at the area
of the tumor and also the Heat of specific Organs that are the root cause of the tumor.

Learn more about Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao)

Huang Lian is a king ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

4. Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLarge intestineLiverSpleenStomach

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Lian clears Toxic-Heat. It addresses the accumulated Heat that occurs at the area
of the tumor and also the Heat of specific Organs that are the root cause of the tumor.

Learn more about Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian)

Huang Qin is a king ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

5. Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLarge intestineLungSmall intestineSpleen

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Huang Qin clears Toxic-Heat. It addresses the accumulated Heat that occurs at the area
of the tumor and also the Heat of specific Organs that are the root cause of the tumor.

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Kun Bu is a deputy ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

6. Kombu (Kun Bu)

Part used: Dried thalline

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Salty

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiverStomach

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

In general Kun Bu's main actions are as follows: "Softens hardness, Cools Hot phlegm. Encourages urination and lessens edema."

In the context of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it is salty, transforms Phlegm and softens hardness.

Learn more about Kombu (Kun Bu)

Lian Qiao is a deputy ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

7. Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Part used: Dried fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

In general Lian Qiao's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature."

In the context of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it clears Toxic-Heat and thrusts pus out.

Learn more about Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Tian Hua Fen is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Snake Gourd Roots (Tian Hua Fen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSourSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Tian Hua Fen clears Heat while also protecting Yin that is susceptible to damage from the Heat
accumulation and the bitter, drying herbs in the formula. The combination of Anemarrhena rhizome, Platycodon root and Snake gourd root is very effect in performing this task.  It also clear Toxic-Heat and thrusts pus out. It has the ability to guide out the Qi of swellings.

Learn more about Snake Gourd Roots (Tian Hua Fen)

Jie Geng is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Jie Geng clears Heat while also protecting Yin that is susceptible to damage from the Heat
accumulation and the bitter, drying herbs in the formula. The combination of Anemarrhena rhizome, Platycodon root and Snake gourd root is very effect in performing this task.

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

San Leng is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Common Burreed Tubers (San Leng)

Part used: The tuber or rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

San Leng invigorates the Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation. It thus aids in dispersal of the hard swellings.  The combination of Common burreed tuber and Zedoary rhizome should only be used when the swellings are very hard. Otherwise, they should not be used.

Learn more about Common Burreed Tubers (San Leng)

E zhu is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. Zedoary Rhizomes (E zhu)

Part used: Rhizoma

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

E zhu invigorates the Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation. It thus aids in dispersal of the hard swellings.  The combination of Common burreed tuber and Zedoary rhizome should only be used when the swellings are very hard. Otherwise, they should not be used.

Learn more about Zedoary Rhizomes (E zhu)

Ge Gen is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

12. Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Ge Gen's main actions are as follows: "Relieves muscle tension especially in the neck and shoulders. Relieves the Exterior and scatters Wind. Supports the Fluids and eases thirst. Assists in the expression of measles. Relieves diarrhea. Relieves hypertension."

In the context of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it guide the herbs to the upper body and pertain to the foot Yang Brightness Channel.

Learn more about Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

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

13. White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSour

Meridian affinity: LiverSpleen

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Bai Shao softens the Liver and nourishes the Blood, thus helping Dong quai to protect the body's Blood Yin. By softening the Liver, it also addresses Liver fire, which is often a contributing factor or main cause of the types of swellings this formula treats.

Learn more about White Peony Roots (Bai Shao)

Sheng Ma is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

14. Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLungSpleenStomach

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sheng Ma's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior, scatters Wind and clears Heat. Allows the release of toxicity from the skin and clears Heat. Raises the Yang associated with Middle Qi Deficiency. Directs herbs upwards. Cools the Blood."

In the context of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it guide the herbs to the upper body and pertain to the foot Yang Brightness Channel.

Learn more about Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

Chai Hu is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

15. 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 San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it addresses the sores that are along the Lesser Yang Channels.

Learn more about Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in San Zhong Kui Jian Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

16. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLiverSpleen

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui invigorates the Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation. It thus aids in dispersal of the hard swellings. However, its effect is much softer than the combination of Common burreed tuber and Zedoary rhizome of this formula. Thus it can be used for patients with weak constitution.  It also harmonizes and nourishes the Blood. This function is crucial to preventing the long-standing Heat disorder and bitter, drying herbs from wearing away the
Yin-Blood. Please note that the Dong quai tail should be used in this formula to enhance the Blood invigoration effect.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

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

17. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Gan Cao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs."

In the context of San Zhong Kui Jian Tang, it is used because it harmonizes the formula, drains Fire, augments the Stomach qi, and also dispels sore toxins.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which San Zhong Kui Jian 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 San Zhong Kui Jian Tang 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:

Goiter Scrofula Lymphadenitis Tubercular lymph nodes Neck tumors Shoulder tumors Underarm tumors Hyperthyroidism

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "San Zhong Kui Jian Tang treats goiter" for instance. Rather, San Zhong Kui Jian Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind goiter.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with San Zhong Kui Jian Tang.

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Blood Stagnation

San Zhong Kui Jian Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Blood Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dark face, purple lips, boring fixed stabbing pain and abdominal masses. Patients with Blood Stagnation typically exhibit choppy (Se), firm (Lao) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as Purple tongue .

Blood Stagnation - also often referred to as "Blood Stasis" - is where the Blood flow is heavily restricted in all or parts of the body. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the... read more about Blood Stagnation

'Heat' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Heat pattern in Chinese Medicine

Toxic-Heat

San Zhong Kui Jian Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Toxic-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fever, swellings, pus and boils. Patients with Toxic-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) pulses as well as Red tongue with yellow coating.

There are two types of Toxic-Heat. One type is called Toxic-Heat Stagnation, which mainly happens in Channels or other surfaces like skins, throat, lymph or mouth. The symptoms include pain, redness and swollen in throat as well as skin pustule and rush. Acne during teenage time is mainly due to... read more about Toxic-Heat

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