The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Si Ni San is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) as a principal ingredient.
Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that harmonize Liver-Spleen. Its main actions are: 1) regulates Liver and Spleen and 2) eliminates Internal Heat.
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 Si Ni San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Rebellious Liver Qi. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as cholecystitis, cholelithiasis or gastritis for instance.
On this page, after a detailed description of each of the four ingredients in Si Ni San, we review the patterns and conditions that Si Ni San helps treat.
Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Si Ni San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Part used: Dried root and rhizome
Zhi Shi is a deputy ingredient in Si Ni San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
Part used: Dried unripe fruit
Category: Herbs that regulate Qi
Zhi Shi drains Stagnation, breaks up Stagnant Qi, and reduces accumulation in the Middle Burner to facilitate the transportive and transformative functions of the Spleen and Stomach. Its descending action pairs it well with the ascending action of Chai Hu (the key herb): the effect of the different directions is to disentangle Heat in the Liver, Stomach and Spleen territories.
Bai Shao is an assistant ingredient in Si Ni San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
Part used: Dried root
Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency
Bai Shao nourishes the Liver and preserves the Yin. Bai Shao holds things in; this is in contrast to the key herb Chai Hu, which disperses. This combination is very effective in disseminating the Liver
Qi without injuring its Yin.
Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Si Ni San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.
Part used: Dried root and rhizome
Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency
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 Si Ni San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Rebellious Liver Qi" which we describe below.
But before we delve into Rebellious Liver Qi here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:
Cholecystitis Cholelithiasis Gastritis Gastric ptosis Peptic ulcers Colitis Appendicitis Pancreatis Urinary stones Dysmenorrhea Premenstrual syndrome Impotence Coronary artery disease Urinary incontinence Enuresis Perimenopausal syndrome Rhinitis Mastitis Blocked fallopian tubes Periappendical abscesses
Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Si Ni San treats cholecystitis" for instance. Rather, Si Ni San is used to treat Rebellious Liver Qi, which is sometimes the root cause behind cholecystitis.
Now let's look at Rebellious Liver Qi, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Si Ni San.
The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)
Si Ni San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Rebellious Liver Qi. This pattern leads to symptoms such as hypochondrial distention, epigastric distension, hiccuping and frequent sighing. Patients with Rebellious Liver Qi typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.
In normal times Liver Qi travels horizontally to assists the the Stomach and the Spleen's digestive functions. When it rebels its movement becomes excessive and that causes Stomach Qi to ascend instead of descend, causing belching, nausea and vomiting.