Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Bamboo shavings (Zhu Ru) Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Jujube dates (Da Zao)

Wen Dan Tang

Chinese: 温胆汤

Pinyin: Wēn Dǎn Tāng

Other names: Bamboo and Poria Combination, Warm Gallbladder Decoction

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm

Mother formula: Er Chen Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AnginaAsthmaInsomnia and fifteen other conditions

  1. Clears Hot-Phlegm
  2. Clears Gallbladder heat
  3. Regulates Qi
  4. Harmonizes the Stomach

Source date: 1174 AD

Source book: Discussion of Illnesses, Patterns, and Formulas Related to the Unification of the Three Etiologies

Wen Dan Tang is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1174 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm. Its main actions are: 1) clears Hot-Phlegm and 2) clears Gallbladder 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 Wen Dan Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm Misting the Heart, Gallbladder Deficiency or Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as menopausal syndrome, morning sickness or hypertension for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the eight ingredients in Wen Dan Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Wen Dan Tang helps treat.

The eight ingredients in Wen Dan Tang

Ban Xia is a king ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Ban Xia is the principal substance in the materia medica for transforming Phlegm and regulating the Stomach Qi.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

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

2. Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

Part used: Dried middle shavings

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: GallbladderStomachLung

Category: Cool herbs that transform Phlegm and stop Cough

Zhu Ru enters the Stomach to expel Heat and stop nausea, and the Gallbladder to calm the Mind, release Stagnation, and alleviate irritability.

Learn more about Bamboo Shavings (Zhu Ru)

Zhi Shi is an assistant ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Part used: Dried unripe fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): BitterPungentSour

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Zhi Shi's main actions are as follows: "Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs."

In the context of Wen Dan Tang, it is used because it reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi and is particularly effective in treating focal distention.

Learn more about Immature Bitter Oranges (Zhi Shi)

Chen Pi is an assistant ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

Part used: Dried pericarp of the ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

Chen Pi dries Dampness and expels Phlegm while regulating the Qi and harmonizes its circulation in the Stomach.

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

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

5. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Fu Ling , together with Liquorice (Gan Cao), strengthens the Spleen, leaches out Dampness, and harmonizes the functions of the Middle Burner.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Sheng Jiang is an envoy ingredient in Wen Dan Tang. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

6. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Sheng Jiang regulate the relationship between the Gallbladder and stand assists the other herbs in stopping the vomiting.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

7. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Gan Cao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs."

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

8. Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Da Zao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula."

Learn more about Jujube Dates (Da Zao)

Conditions and patterns for which Wen Dan Tang 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 Wen Dan Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat ten 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:

Menopausal syndrome Morning sickness Hypertension Angina Myocarditis Premature atrial contractions Pericarditis Chronic gastritis Peptic ulcers Cholecystitis Chronic hepatitis Asthma Chronic bronchitis Depression Insomnia Early stage schizophrenia Psychosis Autonomic dystonia

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Wen Dan Tang treats menopausal syndrome" for instance. Rather, Wen Dan Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind menopausal syndrome.

Now let's look at the ten patterns commonly treated with Wen Dan Tang.

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

Phlegm Misting the Heart

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm Misting the Heart. This pattern leads to symptoms such as staring at walls, muttering to oneself, abnormal and foolish behavior and dull eyes. Patients with Phlegm Misting the Heart typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick coating.

This pattern is also called 'Cold Phlegm or Mucus Obstructing the Heart Orifices'. It is similar to the pattern of 'Phlegm Fire harassing the Heart' (also called 'Hot Phlegm or Mucus Obstructing the Heart orifices'), but it is a Cold Pattern here. 

Children can have this pattern and it is often... read more about Phlegm Misting the Heart

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

Gallbladder Deficiency

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Gallbladder Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as timidity, easily scared, lack of courage and indecision. Patients with Gallbladder Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses.

This is really the description of a personality rather than a pattern: that is, when a person lacks courage and initiative and is very shy and timid.

The Gallbladder is the Yang aspect of the Liver so this pattern goes together with Liver Qi Deficiency (Qi is Yang in nature).

Although the pattern... read more about Gallbladder Deficiency

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

Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aphasia, coma, thirst and red face. Patients with Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart typically exhibit overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses.

This is an Excess pattern and all the mental symptoms are caused by Phlegm obstructing the Heart so that the Mind (Shen) is disturbed and lose its residence at the Heart. This obstruction can lead to the loss of insight , manic depression, extreme mental instability or even brain injury. 

All the... read more about Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

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

Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium. This pattern leads to symptoms such as aphasia, coma, thirst and red face. Patients with Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium typically exhibit overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi) pulses.

The Pericardium is the guard and the first defense line of the Heart. Therefore when the Heart was invaded by Phlegm and Fire, the Pericardium suffers as well. Actually the related mental symptoms of these two Organs by Phlegm and Fire are quick similar with just different severe levels. 

Fire... read more about Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium

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

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. This pattern leads to symptoms such as asthma, chest fullness, chest pain and fever. Patients with Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses.

This pattern is similar to Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs, but with additional Heat features, such as feeling of heat, thirst and profuse sticky yellow or green sputum. The typical manifestations of Phlegm are the coughing, short of breath, Phlegm in the throat and chest oppression. The Phlegm can also... read more about Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Fluids

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Fluids. This pattern leads to symptoms such as abdominal distention and fullness, vomiting of watery fluids, feeling of heaviness of body and shortness of breath. Patients with Phlegm-Fluids typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.

Both Phlegm and Fluids here are the pathological fluid wastes that fails to be expelled or drained out of the body. Then they can accumulate and settle down in any body parts, such as the Organs, Channels, joints, limbs and etc. If these Body Fluids store between the skin and muscle, they are... read more about Phlegm-Fluids

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea, feeling of heaviness, numbness in the limbs and lumps. Patients with Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick coating.

Phlegm has a great importance in Chinese Medicine as it is both a condition in and of itself as well as a cause for other diseases.

The main cause for the formation of Phlegm is Spleen Deficiency since the Spleen rules the transformation and transportation of Body Fluids. If this function is... read more about Phlegm

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Heat

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as red face, restlnessness, feeling of oppression of the chest and dry mouth. Patients with Phlegm-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

Phlegm-Heat is a pattern that typically occurs when Dampness or Body Fluids combine with pathogenic Heat. In this case the Heat either invades from the Exterior or is generated by emotional disorders, long-term illness, poor diet or other internal disharmonies.

The Heart is associated with Fire,... read more about Phlegm-Heat

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

Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, dizziness or vertigo, dream disturbed sleep with strange or unusual dreams and palpitations. Patients with Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with yellow coating.

Learn more about Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat

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

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat

Wen Dan Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat. This pattern leads to symptoms such as toothache, headaches, breast distention and breast lumps. Patients with Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

Learn more about Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat

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