Bugbane rhizomes (Sheng Ma) Kudzu roots (Ge Gen) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Red peony roots (Chi Shao)

Chinese: 升麻葛根汤

Pinyin: Shēng Má Gé Gēn Tāng

Other names: Cimicifuga and Kudzu Decoction

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Wind-Heat

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: MeaslesChickenpoxHerpes zoster and one other condition

  1. Releases the muscle layer
  2. Vents rashes

Source date: Craft of Medicines and Patterns for Children

Source book: 1119 AD

Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in Craft of Medicines and Patterns for Children, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Wind-Heat. Its main actions are: 1) releases the muscle layer and 2) vents rashes.

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.

From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as measles, herpes zoster or herpes simplex for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the four ingredients in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang helps treat.

The four ingredients in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

Sheng Ma is a king ingredient in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. 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

Sheng Ma disperses Wind in the Yang Brightness Channel and lifts the clear Yang of the Stomach, and vents rashes.

Learn more about Bugbane Rhizomes (Sheng Ma)

Ge Gen is a deputy ingredient in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Ge Gen stimulates and disperses functioning in the superficial body levels and hence unblocks the pores and interstices to assist in ventig the rash. It also raises the Body Fluids for expelling the Heat.

Learn more about Kudzu Roots (Ge Gen)

Gan Cao is an assistant ingredient in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao stregthens the Qi and remove Toxins thus helping the key and deputy berbs clearing Heat and venting the rash. The substitution of untreated Liquorice is common due to its ability to resolve toxicity at a  higher extent in comparison that of the honeyfried variety.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Chi Shao is an assistant ingredient in Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: Liver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Chi Shao's main actions are as follows: "Moves Blood, relieves pain and reduces swelling. Cools the Blood and the Liver."

In the context of Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang, it is used because it cools the Blood and targets the issues from the interior.

Learn more about Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Formulas similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

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Ju Yuan Jian is 40% similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

Wu Lin San is 40% similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

Shi Shen Tang is 36% similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

Ge Gen Tang is 29% similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang

Si Jun Zi Tang is 25% similar to Sheng Ma Ge Gen Tang