Gastrodia rhizomes (Tian Ma) Gambir stems and thorns (Gou Teng) Abalone shells (Shi Jue Ming) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) Baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) Motherwort herbs (Yi Mu Cao) Eucommia bark (Du Zhong) Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Chinese: 天麻钩藤饮

Pinyin: Tiān Má Gōu Téng Yǐn

Other names: Gastrodia and Uncaria Drink

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that pacify and extinguish Internal Wind

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: VertigoAphasiaApraxia and eleven other conditions

  1. Calms the Liver
  2. Extinguishes wind
  3. Invigorates the blood
  4. Clears heat
  5. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys

Contraindications: Contraindicated if the patient's symptoms are caused by Yin Deficiency.

Source date: 1958 AD

Source book: Deriving New Treatments for Patterns of Miscellaneous Disorders in Chinese Internal Medicine

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is a 11-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma) and Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1958 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that pacify and extinguish Internal Wind. Its main actions are: 1) calms the Liver and 2) extinguishes wind.

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 Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat or Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as insomnia, headache or dizziness for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eleven ingredients in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, we review the patterns and conditions that Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin helps treat.

The eleven ingredients in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Tian Ma is a king ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma)

Part used: Dried tuber

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Liver

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Tian Ma is sweet and balanced. It is frequently used to treat Internal Wind. Its calming and cooling action is supplement by the heavy and salty Shi Jue Ming (Abalone shells)

Learn more about Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma)

Gou Teng is a king ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng)

Part used: Dried stems and thorns from the branches

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: LiverPericardium

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Gou Teng is sweet and cooling. It is often used to treat internal Wind. Its calming and cooling action is supplement by the heavy and salty Shi Jue Ming (Abalone shells)

Learn more about Gambir Stems And Thorns (Gou Teng)

Shi Jue Ming is a deputy ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Abalone Shells (Shi Jue Ming)

Part used: Shell

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Salty

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiverLung

Category: Herbs that pacify Internal Liver Wind and stop Tremors

Shi Jue Ming is heavy and salty. Similar to other seashells, it can anchor the rising Yang and calm the Liver. It is useful for treating headaches and dizziness due to Liver Yang rising. It is because it can guide Blood downward from the head by acting on Yang Qi.

Learn more about Abalone Shells (Shi Jue Ming)

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLungSanjiao

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

In general Zhi Zi's main actions are as follows: "Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory."

In the context of Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, it is used because it clears Heat and drains Fire. It prevent the Yang from rising in the Liver Channel.

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Huang Qin is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenHeartLarge intestineLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

In general Huang Qin's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome."

In the context of Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, it is used because it clears Heat and drains Fire. It prevent the Yang from rising in the Liver Channel.

Learn more about Baikal Skullcap Roots (Huang Qin)

Yi Mu Cao is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Motherwort Herbs (Yi Mu Cao)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

In general Yi Mu Cao's main actions are as follows: "Moves and regulates Blood, breaks Stasis and regulates the menses. Increases the flow of urine and reduces Stagnation of water"

In the context of Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, it is used because it invigorates the Blood to prevent it from rising to the head with the rising Liver Yang.

Learn more about Motherwort Herbs (Yi Mu Cao)

Du Zhong is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong)

Part used: Dried stem bark

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yang Deficiency

In general Du Zhong's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms ascendant Liver Yang (hypertension/high blood pressure). Calms a restless fetus."

In the context of Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, it is used because it tonifies and nourishes the Liver and Kidneys in order to reinforce the root.

Learn more about Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong)

Sang Ji Sheng is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)

Part used: Dried stem and branch with leaf

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

In general Sang Ji Sheng's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Liver and the Kidneys. Strengthens the tendons and bones. Relieves rheumatic conditions. Lowers hypertension."

In the context of Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, it is used because it tonifies and nourishes the Liver and Kidneys in order to reinforce the root.

Learn more about Mulberry Mistletoe (Sang Ji Sheng)

Fu Shen is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Part used: The part of the mushroom that is attached to the host-wood, dried

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeart

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Fu Shen calms the spirit and stabilizes the will. It is effective for restlessness and insomnia which are the typical symptoms of Liver Yang Rising.

Learn more about Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen)

Chuan Niu Xi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. 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 has a descending nature that drives the Blood downward. Together with Yi Mu Cao (Motherwort herb), they are diuretic in nature, directing pathogenic Qi and Body Fluids out via the urine.

Learn more about Cyathula Roots (Chuan Niu Xi)

Ye Jiao Teng is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. Fleeceflower Stems (Ye Jiao Teng)

Part used: Dried lianoid stem

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Ye Jiao Teng calms the spirit and stabilizes the will. It is effective for restlessness and insomnia which are the typical symptoms of Liver Yang Rising.

Learn more about Fleeceflower Stems (Ye Jiao Teng)

Conditions and patterns for which Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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 Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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:

Insomnia Headache Dizziness Vertigo Tinnitus Cerebrovascular disease Transitory ischemic attacks Hypertension Renal hypertension Hypertensive encephalopathy Aphasia Apraxia Epilepsy Neurosis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin treats insomnia" for instance. Rather, Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind insomnia.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin.

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Thick coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Stiff

Symptoms: Coma Tremor Tingling Numbness Dizziness Paralysis Stiff neck Convulsions High temperature

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as tremor, tingling, numbness and dizziness. Patients with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses as well as a red tongue with thick coating, yellow coating.

The invasion of Exterior Wind-Heat leads to this pattern. It then turns into Interior Heat and penetrates deep into the Blood.

Once in the Blood, it can stir up the Wind, causing an Excess amount of Internal Wind. The underlying mechanic is that it injures the Yin (since Blood is Yin in nature) and... read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coma, convulsions, dizziness and tremor. Patients with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu), wiry (Xian), fine (Xi) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue.

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is left unchecked for a long time. This pattern is normally seen among the elderly. Many reasons lead to this pattern such as excessive exercise or sex, prolonged physical exertion, chronic menorrhagia and long term emotional stress from... read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

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