Ginseng (Ren Shen) Prepared aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Chinese: 参附汤

Pinyin: Shēn Fù Tāng

Other names: Ginseng Aconite Root Decoction, Ginseng Aconitum Decoction, Ginseng and Aconite Accessory Root Decoction

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that rescue devastated Yang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Cardiac failureCardiogenic shockHypovolemic shock and three other conditions

  1. Restores Yang
  2. Strongly tonifies the source Qi
  3. Saves Qi from collapsing due to devastated Yang

Contraindications: It should only be used for acute conditions and should not be used long term as... It should only be used for acute conditions and should not be used long term as the formula has a very strong tonifying effect. As soon as the Yang and Qi is restored and the acute situation has passed, the formula should be changed according to the new body condition. If not, excessive use can cause Fire and hurts Yin and Blood. see more

Source date: 1445 AD

Source book: Classified Compilation of Medical Prescriptions

Shen Fu Tang is a 2-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1445 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that rescue devastated Yang. Its main actions are: 1) restores Yang and 2) strongly tonifies the source Qi.

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 Shen Fu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Heart Yang Collapsing or Collapse of Yang. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as cardiac failure, myocardial infarction or cardiogenic shock for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the two ingredients in Shen Fu Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Shen Fu Tang helps treat.

The two ingredients in Shen Fu Tang

Ren Shen is a king ingredient in Shen Fu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleen

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen Ginseng Radix is sweet and warm and it strongly tonifies the Heart and Lungs Qi, It also enriching the Body Fluids.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

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

2. Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Part used: Processed daughter root

Nature: Hot

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneySpleen

Category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

Zhi Fu Zi It is warm and it strengthens the true Yang at the Gate of Vitality (Ming Men). Together with Ginseng, it assists the Spleen which is responsible for
food and Body Fluids' transformation to Qi. It also support Qi circulating.

Learn more about Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi)

Conditions and patterns for which Shen Fu 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 Shen Fu 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:

Cardiac failure Myocardial infarction Cardiogenic shock Postpartum hemorrhage Abnormal uterine bleeding Hypovolemic shock

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Shen Fu Tang treats cardiac failure" for instance. Rather, Shen Fu Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind cardiac failure.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Shen Fu Tang.

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

Heart Yang Collapsing

Shen Fu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart Yang Collapsing. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, shallow respiration and weak breath. Patients with Heart Yang Collapsing typically exhibit knotted (Jie), minute (Wei) or hidden (Fu) pulses.

This pattern is similar to Heart Yang Deficiency, but much severe. Therefore the clinical symptoms are quite similar. The key different manifestation is the cyanosis of the lips. It is because the Blood flow are impaired due to lacking of Yang Qi's moving force. 

Coma happens in rare severe cases.... read more about Heart Yang Collapsing

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

Collapse of Yang

Shen Fu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Collapse of Yang. This pattern leads to symptoms such as listlessness, feeling of cold, cold limbs and bright-white complexion. Patients with Collapse of Yang typically exhibit scattered (San), slow (Chi) or hidden (Fu) pulses.

This is one of the five patterns of the Blood level, the fourth and last level of the Four Levels theory. This means this is a very serious pattern where an External Pathogen has penetrated deeply within the body.

Collapse of Yang indicates an extremely severe state of Emptiness. It also implies a... read more about Collapse of Yang

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