Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) Chinese asparagus tubers (Tian Men Dong) Dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong) Ningpo figwort roots (Xuan Shen) Red sage roots (Dan Shen) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Biota seeds (Bai Zi Ren) Chinese senega roots (Yuan Zhi)

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Chinese: 天王补心丹

Pinyin: Tiān Wáng Bǔ Xīn Dān

Other names: Emperor of Heaven's Special Pill to Tonify the Heart, Emperor of Heaven's Tonic Pill for the Mind, Ginseng and Zizyphus Combination, Scholar's or student's formula

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that nourish the Heart and calm the Mind

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Aphthous ulcersCardiac diseaseChronic urticaria and five other conditions

  1. Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney
  2. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat
  3. Sedative

Contraindications: Contraindicated for Spleen and Stomach weakness with tendency to bloat, loose... Contraindicated for Spleen and Stomach weakness with tendency to bloat, loose stools, edema and fluid retention. This is because the ingredients in this formula are Cold and rich. see more

Source date: 16th century

Source book: Fine Formulas for Women with Annotations and Commentary

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is a 14-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 16th century, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish the Heart and calm the Mind. Its main actions are: 1) nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney and 2) clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient 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 Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Heart Yin Deficiency, Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as absence of menstruation, postpartum depression or menopausal syndrome for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the fourteen ingredients in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, we review the patterns and conditions that Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan helps treat.

The fourteen ingredients in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Di Huang is a king ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

Di Huang nourishes the Yin and clears Heat. It enriches the Kidney Yin (water), which is then able to control the disturbance of the Mind (Shen) due to Fire. It is also effective in nourishing the Blood.

Learn more about Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang)

Tian Men Dong is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Chinese Asparagus Tubers (Tian Men Dong)

Part used: The dry tuber

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

Tian Men Dong works together with the two other deputies (Mai Men Dong and Xuan Shen) to enrich the Yin and clear Heat from Deficiency. In various classical texts, all of these herbs are noted for their efficacy in calming the Mind.

Learn more about Chinese Asparagus Tubers (Tian Men Dong)

Mai Dong is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Part used: Dried root tuber

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: StomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

In general Mai Dong's main actions are as follows: "Replenishes Yin Essence and promotes secretions. Lubricates and nourishes the Stomach. Soothes the Lung. Nourishes the Heart."

Learn more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Xuan Shen is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Ningpo Figwort Roots (Xuan Shen)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: StomachLarge intestineLiver

Category: Herbs that cool the Blood

In general Xuan Shen's main actions are as follows: "Expels true or Internal Heat and cools the Blood. Tonifies the Yin. Reduces inflammations and drains Fire toxicity. Reduces hard nodules, especially associated with the lymph."

Learn more about Ningpo Figwort Roots (Xuan Shen)

Dan Shen is a deputy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

5. Red Sage Roots (Dan Shen)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLiver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Dan Shen works together with Dong Quai (Dang Gui), another assistant in this formula, to tonify the Blood in order to nourish the Heart without causing Blood stagnation.

Learn more about Red Sage Roots (Dan Shen)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

In general Dang Gui's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation."

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Bai Zi Ren is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

7. Biota Seeds (Bai Zi Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Bai Zi Ren works together with Chinese senega root (Yuan Zhi), another assistant in this formula, to calm the Mind.

Learn more about Biota Seeds (Bai Zi Ren)

Yuan Zhi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

8. Chinese Senega Roots (Yuan Zhi)

Part used: The dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

In general Yuan Zhi's main actions are as follows: "Calms the spirit. Expels Phlegm from the Heart orifices. Expels Phlegm from the Lungs. Diminishes abscesses."

Learn more about Chinese Senega Roots (Yuan Zhi)

Ren Shen is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Ren Shen's main actions are as follows: "Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit)."

In the context of Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, it is used because it works together with Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) to assist the Heart Qi.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

10. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Fu Ling's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit."

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Suan Zao Ren is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

11. Jujube Seeds (Suan Zao Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seed

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLiver

Category: Herbs that nourish the Heart and calm the Spirit

Suan Zao Ren works together with Schisandra berries (Wu Wei Zi), another assistant in this formula, to prevent the leakage of Heart Qi and Yin Fluids.

Learn more about Jujube Seeds (Suan Zao Ren)

Wu Wei Zi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

12. Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

In general Wu Wei Zi's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Kidneys and preserves the Essence. Astringes the Lung Qi and stops coughing. Retains Bodily Fluids and encourages their production. Tonifies the Heart and calms the spirit (Shen)."

Learn more about Schisandra Berries (Wu Wei Zi)

Jie Geng is an envoy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

13. Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Jie Geng conducts the actions of the other herbs upward toward the Upper Burner, the abode of the Mind (Shen).

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Zhu Sha is an envoy ingredient in Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

14. Cinnabar (Zhu Sha)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Heart

Category: Herbs that anchor and calm the Spirit

In general Zhu Sha's main actions are as follows: "Calms the spirit and Heart. Stops convulsions. Clears Heat and toxins."

In the context of Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, it is used because it anchors the Mind and calms wayward emotions.

Learn more about Cinnabar (Zhu Sha)

Conditions and patterns for which Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan 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 Wang Bu Xin Dan is used by TCM practitioners to treat four 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:

Absence of menstruation Postpartum depression Menopausal syndrome Perimenopausal syndrome Chronic urticaria Aphthous ulcers Cardiac disease Nervous exhaustion

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan treats absence of menstruation" for instance. Rather, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind absence of menstruation.

Now let's look at the four patterns commonly treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan.

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

Heart Yin Deficiency

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, dream disturbed sleep and easily scared. Patients with Heart Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu), fine (Xi) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of coating.

This pattern developed from Heart Blood Deficiency. Both patterns share similar symptoms such as insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, easily scared, poor memory and anxiety, but with also has additional Empty Heat symptoms such as malar flush, mental restlessness and night sweats. Middle-aged or... read more about Heart Yin Deficiency

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

Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu)

Tongue color: Red, Red tip

Tongue shape: Cracked

Symptoms: Anxiety Insomnia Tinnitus Dizziness Poor memory Palpitations Night sweats Restlnessness Dream disturbed sleep Spontaneous and nocturnal emissions

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as palpitations, insomnia, poor memory and night sweats. Patients with Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency typically exhibit overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu) or empty (Xu) pulses as well as a red, red tip tongue.

Also called "Kidneys and Heart not Harmonized", this pattern occurs when Kidney Yin is Deficient and cannot nourish the Heart Yin which thus becomes Deficient. It results in a flaring up of Empty-Heat in the Heart with accompanying symptoms such as mental restlessness, insomnia, dream disturbed... read more about Heart and Kidney Yin Deficiency

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

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus, insomnia and palpitations. Patients with Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu), fine (Xi) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue.

Learn more about Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Yin and Blood Deficiency

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Yin and Blood Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as irritability, palpitations with anxiety, fatigue and insomnia with very restless sleep. Patients with Yin and Blood Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a red tongue with partial absence of coating.

Learn more about Yin and Blood Deficiency

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