Ginseng (Ren Shen) Atractylodes rhizomes (Bai Zhu) Poria-cocos mushrooms (Fu Ling) Liquorice (Gan Cao) Tangerine peel (Chen Pi) Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Costus roots (Mu Xiang) Amomum fruits (Sha Ren)

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Chinese: 香砂六君子汤

Pinyin: Xiāng Shā Liù Jūn Zǐ Tāng

Other names: Six-Gentlemen Decoction with Costus root and Amomum fruit

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dispel Phlegm

Mother formula: Liu Jun Zi Tang

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Morning sicknessLate menstruationAbsence of menstruation

  1. Tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi
  2. Removes Dampness
  3. Moves Qi
  4. Alleviates pain

Source date: 1675 AD

Source book: Discussion of Famous Physicians' Formulas Past and Present

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is a 9-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ginseng (Ren Shen) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1675 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dispel Phlegm. Its main actions are: 1) tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi and 2) removes Dampness.

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 Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm, Phlegm in the Uterus or Stomach Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as late menstruation, absence of menstruation or morning sickness for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the nine ingredients in Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang helps treat.

The nine ingredients in Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Ren Shen is a king ingredient in Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang. 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 is a a powerful tonic for the Spleen Qi. Today however it is often substituted for Dang Shen (Codonopsis root), which plays a similar role and is significantly less expensive. It also tonifies Stomach Qi and resolve Dampness. 

Learn more about Ginseng (Ren Shen)

Bai Zhu is a deputy ingredient in Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Bai Zhu's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi."

In the context of Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, it is used because it tonifies Spleen Qi and Stomach Qi and resolves Dampness.

Learn more about Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu)

3. 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."

In the context of Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, it is used because it removes Dampness and assists Ginseng or Codonopsis root in strengthening the Spleen.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

4. 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 Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, it is used because it warms and regulates the Middle Burner and moderates the draining property of Poria-cocos mushrooms.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

5. 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 is a drying herb that directs the Qi downward and helps remove obstruction in the Middle Burner by Phlegm-Dampness. This is characterized by Rebellious Qi of the Stomach and Lungs with symptoms like nausea, vomiting (for the stomach part) and coughing sputum (for the Lungs).

Learn more about Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi)

6. 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 , like Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi), has a drying effect and helps direct the Qi downward. It also stops nausea.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

7. Costus Roots (Mu Xiang)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: GallbladderSpleenStomachLarge intestineLiverLung

Category: Herbs that regulate Qi

In general Mu Xiang's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Stagnation of Qi of the digestion in the Spleen, Stomach and Intestines. Relieves Qi Stagnation of the Liver and Gallbladder. Strengthens the Spleen and is used with tonifying herbs to prevent their potential cloying effects."

In the context of Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, it is used because it moves Qi and eliminates Stagnation in the epigastrium.

Learn more about Costus Roots (Mu Xiang)

8. Amomum Fruits (Sha Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachKidney

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

In general Sha Ren's main actions are as follows: "Warms the Spleen and transforms Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi for Damp and Stagnant conditions of the Stomach and Spleen. Settles a restless fetus and stops morning sickness. Prevents cloying and Stagnation sometimes caused by tonifying herbs."

In the context of Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang, it is used because it moves Qi, stops nausea. and eliminates Stagnation in the epigastrium.

Learn more about Amomum Fruits (Sha Ren)

9. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

In general Sheng Jiang's main actions are as follows: "Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning."

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Conditions and patterns for which Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi 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 Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang 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:

Late menstruation Absence of menstruation Morning sickness

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang treats late menstruation" for instance. Rather, Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind late menstruation.

Now let's look at the four patterns commonly treated with Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang.

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

Phlegm

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm. This pattern leads to symptoms such as chest pressure, nausea, dizziness and feeling of heaviness. 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

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

Phlegm in the Uterus

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in the Uterus. This pattern leads to symptoms such as menstruation decreases gratually, overweight, vagina discharge and feeling of heaviness. Patients with Phlegm in the Uterus typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a normal (light red) tongue.

Learn more about Phlegm in the Uterus

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

Stomach Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Tiredness Dry mouth Depression Poor appetite Feeling of cold Nausea or vomiting

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, tiredness, feeling of cold and poor appetite. Patients with Stomach Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Stomach Deficiency

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

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as dizziness, unsteadiness, blurred vision and deafness. Patients with Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Learn more about Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

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