Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) Red poria (Chi Fu Ling) Red peony roots (Chi Shao) Dong quai (Dang Gui)

Wu Lin San

Chinese: 五淋散

Pinyin: Wǔ Lín Sàn

Other names: Powder for Five Types of Painful Urinary Dribbling

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: CystitisGonorrheaUrethritis and two other conditions

  1. Clears heat
  2. Cools the Blood
  3. Promotes urination
  4. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling

Contraindications: To be used for Excess acute conditions. Avoid using it to treat chronic... To be used for Excess acute conditions. Avoid using it to treat chronic conditions or patterns characterized by Deficiency and Cold. see more

Source date: 1107 AD

Source book: Formulary of the Pharmacy Service for Benefiting the People in the Taiping Era

Wu Lin San is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness. Its main actions are: 1) clears heat and 2) cools the Blood.

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 Wu Lin San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Damp-Cold in the Bladder. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as urethritis, cystitis or urinary stones for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the five ingredients in Wu Lin San, we review the patterns and conditions that Wu Lin San helps treat.

The five ingredients in Wu Lin San

Zhi Zi is a king ingredient in Wu Lin San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. 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

Zhi Zi clears Heat from the Qi aspect via the Triple Burner and cools and moves the Blood. It is ideally suited for a pattern characterized by Damp-Heat leading to reckless movement of the Blood.

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Chi Fu Ling is a deputy ingredient in Wu Lin San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Red Poria (Chi Fu Ling)

Part used: The outer red part of the dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: Kidney

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Chi Fu Ling drains Damp-Heat from the Heart, Small Intestine, and Bladder by promoting urination and unblocking the lower body orifices.

Learn more about Red Poria (Chi Fu Ling)

Chi Shao is a deputy ingredient in Wu Lin San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: Liver

Category: Herbs that invigorate the Blood

Chi Shao enters into the Blood aspect to dispel Stagnated Heat, enhancing the efficacy of the key herb Zhi Zi in that respect. It also moves the Blood, stops abdominal pain and promotes urination.

Learn more about Red Peony Roots (Chi Shao)

Dang Gui is an assistant ingredient in Wu Lin San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Dang Gui moves the Blood to dispel Stasis and stops the abdominal pain. It also nourishes the Blood to compensate for any blood loss.

Learn more about Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Wu Lin San. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

5. 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."

In the context of Wu Lin San, it is used because it drains Fire, resolves toxicity, and harmonizes the actions of the other ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Wu Lin San is used to treat Damp-Cold in the Bladder

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 Wu Lin San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Damp-Cold in the Bladder" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Damp-Cold in the Bladder here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Urethritis Cystitis Urinary stones Gonorrhea Appendicitis

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Wu Lin San treats urethritis" for instance. Rather, Wu Lin San is used to treat Damp-Cold in the Bladder, which is sometimes the root cause behind urethritis.

Now let's look at Damp-Cold in the Bladder, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Wu Lin San.

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

Damp-Cold in the Bladder

Wu Lin San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Damp-Cold in the Bladder. This pattern leads to symptoms such as frequent and urgent urination, urination stopping in the middle of flow, feeling of heaviness in the hypogastrium and feeling of heaviness in urethra. Patients with Damp-Cold in the Bladder typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses.

This pattern is distinguished by the presence of Cold and Dampness in the Bladder.

The Coldness and Dampness obstruct the passages of Fluids in the Lower Burner and interfere with the Bladder functions.

The urgent and difficult urination as well as the feeling of heaviness are typical of Dampness.... read more about Damp-Cold in the Bladder

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