Ginseng (Ren Shen) Milkvetch roots (Huang Qi) Dong quai (Dang Gui) Dwarf lilyturf roots (Mai Dong)

Tong Ru Dan

Chinese: 通乳丹

Pinyin: Tōng Rǔ Dān

Other names: Penetrating the Breast Special Pill

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that regulate Blood, Formulas that regulate Qi, Formulas that tonify Qi and Blood

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Low breast milk supply

  1. Tonifies the Qi and Blood
  2. Removes Stagnation from the breast connecting Meridians

Source date: 1826 AD

Source book: Fu Qing Zhu's Gynecology

Tong Ru Dan is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) and Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the categories of formulas that regulate Blood, formulas that regulate Qi and formulas that tonify Qi and Blood. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies the Qi and Blood and 2) removes Stagnation from the breast connecting Meridians.

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 Tong Ru Dan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Blood and Qi Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as low breast milk supply for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Tong Ru Dan, we review the patterns and conditions that Tong Ru Dan helps treat.

The six ingredients in Tong Ru Dan

Ren Shen is a king ingredient in Tong Ru Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Ren Shen tonifies Qi. This is necessary in this breastmilk-boosting formula because Qi is the ultimate source of milk.

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Huang Qi is a king ingredient in Tong Ru Dan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Huang Qi , much like Ginseng (the other key herb here) tonifies Qi which is the ultimate source of breast milk.

Learn more about Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi)

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

3. 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."

In the context of Tong Ru Dan, it is used because it nourishes Blood and supports the flow os Body Fluids.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

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

4. 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."

In the context of Tong Ru Dan, it is used because it , like Dong Quai (another deputy ingredient), nourishes Blood and supports the flow of Body Fluids..

Learn more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots (Mai Dong)

Mu Tong is an assistant ingredient in Tong Ru Dan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)

Part used: Dried stem

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Mu Tong's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and clears Heat. Clears Heat and inflammation of the Heart. Promotes lactation. Moves and smoothes the flow of Blood. Used for painful obstruction associated with either Dampness, Blood Stagnation, Wind or Heat."

In the context of Tong Ru Dan, it is used because it removes Stagnation from the breast-connecting Meridians.

Learn more about Akebia Stems (Mu Tong)

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

6. 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

In general Jie Geng's main actions are as follows: "Opens the Lungs and smoothes the flow of Lung Qi. Expels Phlegm and pus from the Lungs and throat, can be used for either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat according to the other herbs in the formula. Directs the actions of other herbs to the Upper Warmer."

In the context of Tong Ru Dan, it is used because it plays the role as a carrier to direct the herbs to the Upper Burner.

Learn more about Platycodon Roots (Jie Geng)

Tong Ru Dan is used to treat Blood and 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 Tong Ru Dan is mostly used to treat the pattern "Blood and Qi Deficiency" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Blood and Qi Deficiency it is worth mentioning that it is often associated with the condition "low breast milk supply". Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Tong Ru Dan treats low breast milk supply". Rather, Tong Ru Dan is used to treat Blood and Qi Deficiency, which is sometimes the root cause behind low breast milk supply.

Now let's look at Blood and Qi Deficiency, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Tong Ru Dan.

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