White mustard seeds (Bai Jie Zi) Perilla seeds (Zi Su Zi) Radish seeds (Lai Fu Zi)

San Zi Yang Qin Tang

Chinese: 三子养亲汤

Pinyin: Sān Zi Yǎng Qīn Tāng

Other names: Three-Seed Decoction to Nourish One's Parents

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that warm and transform Phlegm-Cold

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: EmphysemaBronchial asthmaPediatric asthma and two other conditions

  1. Directs the Qi downward
  2. Transforms Phlegm
  3. Reduces harbored food

Source date: 1856 AD

Source book: Extensive Essentials of Miscellaneous Diseases

San Zi Yang Qin Tang is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with White Mustard Seeds (Bai Jie Zi), Perilla Seeds (Zi Su Zi) and Radish Seeds (Lai Fu Zi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1856 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm and transform Phlegm-Cold. Its main actions are: 1) directs the Qi downward and 2) transforms Phlegm.

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 San Zi Yang Qin Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Cold-Phlegm or Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma or emphysema for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the three ingredients in San Zi Yang Qin Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that San Zi Yang Qin Tang helps treat.

The three ingredients in San Zi Yang Qin Tang

Bai Jie Zi is a king ingredient in San Zi Yang Qin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. White Mustard Seeds (Bai Jie Zi)

Part used: The seeds, dried

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: StomachLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Bai Jie Zi has the distinctive ability to penetrate the Yin and restore movement to the Yang. It enters and warms the Lungs, regulates the Qi, and expels Phlegm.

Learn more about White Mustard Seeds (Bai Jie Zi)

Zi Su Zi is a king ingredient in San Zi Yang Qin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Perilla Seeds (Zi Su Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

In general Zi Su Zi's main actions are as follows: "Stops coughing and wheezing, expels Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Lung Qi. Lubricates the Intestines."

In the context of San Zi Yang Qin Tang, it is used because it directs the Lung Qi downward and thereby stops the coughing and wheezing.

Learn more about Perilla Seeds (Zi Su Zi)

Lai Fu Zi is a king ingredient in San Zi Yang Qin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

3. Radish Seeds (Lai Fu Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Herbs that relieve Food Stagnation

Lai Fu Zi enters the Lung Channel to direct the Qi downward and transform Phlegm, and mobilizes the Spleen Channel to promote the flow of Spleen Qi and reduce harbored food.

Learn more about Radish Seeds (Lai Fu Zi)

Conditions and patterns for which San Zi Yang Qin 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 Zi Yang Qin 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:

Chronic bronchitis Bronchial asthma Emphysema Pediatric asthma Spasms of the diaphragm

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "San Zi Yang Qin Tang treats chronic bronchitis" for instance. Rather, San Zi Yang Qin Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind chronic bronchitis.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with San Zi Yang Qin Tang.

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Cold-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Symptoms: Nausea Cold limbs Poor appetite White and watery sputum Feeling of oppression of the chest

San Zi Yang Qin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Cold-Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as white and watery sputum, feeling of oppression of the chest, cold limbs and nausea. Patients with Cold-Phlegm typically exhibit deep (Chen), slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

A famous saying in Chinese Medicine goes: "Phlegm has its source in the Kidneys, is then moved by the Spleen, and resides in the Lungs."

This couldn't be more obvious in Cold-Phlegm patterns. The "Cold" aspect of it is that it stems from a Fire Deficiency of the Gate of Life (Ming Men), which is... read more about Cold-Phlegm

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

Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Symptoms: Poor appetite Digestive difficulties Focal distention of the chest Coughing and wheezing with copious sputum

San Zi Yang Qin Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing and wheezing with copious sputum, focal distention of the chest, poor appetite and digestive difficulties. Patients with Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Learn more about Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation

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