Peach kernels (Tao Ren) Safflowers (Hong Hua) Szechuan lovage roots (Chuan Xiong) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Cyathula roots (Chuan Niu Xi) Gentian roots (Qin Jiao) Notopterygium roots (Qiang Huo) Earthworms (Di Long)

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

Chinese: 身痛逐瘀汤

Pinyin: Shēn Tòng Zhú Yū Tāng

Other names: Drive Out Stasis from a Painful Body Decoction

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that regulate Blood

Mother formula: Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: LumbagoSciaticaArthritis and thirteen other conditions

  1. Invigorates Blood
  2. Unblocks painful obstruction
  3. Relieves pain
  4. Invigorate Qi
  5. Dispels Blood Stagnation
  6. Unblock Channels

Contraindications: Contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases that involve excessive menstrual... Contraindicated during pregnancy and in cases that involve excessive menstrual bleeding. Contraindicated for people with a weak constitution or who are debilitated. Contraindicated in cases with bleeding diathesis or any active hemorrhagic disorder. see more

Source date: 1830

Source book: Correction of Errors among Physicians

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Peach Kernels (Tao Ren), Safflowers (Hong Hua) and Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1830, it belongs to the category of formulas that regulate Blood. Its main actions are: 1) invigorates Blood and 2) unblocks painful obstruction.

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 Tong Zhu Yu Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as muscle cramps, arthralgia or rheumatoid arthritis for instance.

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

The twelve ingredients in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

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

1. Peach Kernels (Tao Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seed

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Tao Ren's main actions are as follows: "Moves Blood and breaks up Stasis. Moistens the Intestines. Relieves coughing."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates the Blood and eliminates Blood Stagnation, especially in the upper part of the body.

Learn more about Peach Kernels (Tao Ren)

Hong Hua is a king ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Part used: Dried flower

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Hong Hua's main actions are as follows: "Moves Stagnant Blood and regulates menses. Relieves pain caused by Blood Stasis."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates the Blood and eliminates Blood Stagnation, especially in the upper part of the body.

Learn more about Safflowers (Hong Hua)

Chuan Xiong is a king ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

3. Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderLiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Chuan Xiong's main actions are as follows: "Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates the Blood and eliminates Blood Stagnation, especially in the upper part of the body.

Learn more about Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong)

Dang Gui is a deputy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui invigorate the Blood. However, its focus more on the lower part of the body. It also nourishes the Blood.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Chuan Niu Xi is a deputy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Cyathula Roots (Chuan Niu Xi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Chuan Niu Xi invigorates the Blood circulation by eliminating Stagnation. It has a descending nature that conducts the Blood downward. It also unblocks Channels by removing the painful obstruction. It also remove the stiffness of the joints.

Learn more about Cyathula Roots (Chuan Niu Xi)

Qin Jiao is a deputy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

6. Gentian Roots (Qin Jiao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

In general Qin Jiao's main actions are as follows: "Clears either acute or chronic, Cold or Hot Wind-Damp conditions. Clears Heat from Yin Deficiency. Lubricates the Intestines and promotes bowel movements."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it expels Wind Damp.

Learn more about Gentian Roots (Qin Jiao)

Qiang Huo is a deputy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

7. Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo)

Part used: Dried rhizome and root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: BladderKidney

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Qiang Huo's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold and Dampness. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Directs Qi to the Greater Yang (Tai Yang) channel and the Governing Vessel."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it expels Wind Damp.

Learn more about Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo)

Di Long is a deputy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

8. Earthworms (Di Long)

Part used: Dried body of the worm

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Salty

Meridian affinity: BladderSpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

In general Di Long's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and calms Internal Liver Wind. Soothes asthma. Opens the channels."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it unblocks Channels by removing the painful obstruction. It also remove the stiffness of the joints.

Learn more about Earthworms (Di Long)

Mo Yao is an assistant ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Myrrh (Mo Yao)

Part used: Dried resin of the tree

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Mo Yao's main actions are as follows: "Moves Blood and relieves Stagnation and pain caused by Blood Stagnation. Assists in wound healing."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates Blood and Qi so as to stop pain.

Learn more about Myrrh (Mo Yao)

Wu Ling Zhi is an assistant ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Flying Squirrel Faeces (Wu Ling Zhi)

Part used: Dried faeces

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Wu Ling Zhi's main actions are as follows: "Disperses congealed Blood in the lower abdomen and uterus and relieves pain. Promotes childhood nutrition with Cold Stagnation and focal abdominal swelling."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates Blood and Qi so as to stop pain.

Learn more about Flying Squirrel Faeces (Wu Ling Zhi)

Xiang Fu is an assistant ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. Coco-Grass Rhizomes (Xiang Fu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLiverSanjiao

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Xiang Fu's main actions are as follows: "Unblocks Stagnant Liver Qi and relieves pain. Regulates the Liver and Spleen. Assists the regulation of menses and relieves pain."

In the context of Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it invigorates Blood and Qi so as to stop pain.

Learn more about Coco-Grass Rhizomes (Xiang Fu)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

12. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

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 Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, it is used because it regulates and harmonizes all ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang is used to treat Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles

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 Tong Zhu Yu Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Muscle cramps Arthralgia Rheumatoid arthritis Lumbago Arthritis Carpal tunnel syndrome Lateral epicondylitis Epitrochleitis Scapulohumeral periarthritis Sciatica Neuralgia Hyperosteogeny Allergic purpura Tennis elbow Osteoporosis Peripheral neuropathy

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang treats muscle cramps" for instance. Rather, Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang is used to treat Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles, which is sometimes the root cause behind muscle cramps.

Now let's look at Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang.

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

Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles. This pattern leads to symptoms such as numbness in the limbs, numbness of the muscles, dark skin and swelling of the skin. Patients with Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles typically exhibit choppy (Se) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

It is a type of the Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Bi Syndrome 痹证). Other Pernicious Influences can also invade Channels, joints and muscles such as Wind, Cold, Dampness and Heat

The common symptoms of Bi Syndromes are joints pain, stiffness and numbness. Other than these, Phlegm also causes... read more about Phlegm in the Channels, joints and muscles

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