Pinyin: Xiǎo Xiàn Xiōng Tāng
Other names: Minor Decoction [for Pathogens] Stuck in the Chest
Number of ingredients: 3 herbs
Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat and transform Phlegm
Conditions for which it may be prescribed: AsthmaPleurisyInsomnia and eleven other conditions
Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with significant Spleen and Stomach Deficiency, as... Contraindicated for patients with significant Spleen and Stomach Deficiency, as this formula can cause loose stools. see more
Source date: 220 AD
Source book: Discussion of Cold Damage
The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Xiao Xian Xiong Tang is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Snake Gourds (Gua Lou) as a principal ingredient.
Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and transform Phlegm. Its main actions are: 1) clears Heat and 2) transforms Phlegm.
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 Xiao Xian Xiong Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as hepatitis, cholecystitis or pancreatis for instance.
On this page, after a detailed description of each of the three ingredients in Xiao Xian Xiong Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Xiao Xian Xiong Tang helps treat.
Gua Lou is a king ingredient in Xiao Xian Xiong Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Part used: Dried fruit
Meridian affinity: Large intestineLungStomach
Gua Lou cools and transforms Phlegm-Heat, moistens the Intestines, and directs the turbid Phlegm downward. It facilitates the elimination of Phlegm-Heat via the bowels without causing Stagnation or aggravating the Heat. As Records of Thoughtful Differentiation of Materia Medica, a key Chinese medicine treaty, states: "The most useful aspect of Gua Lou is that it guides Phlegm and turbidity downward; thus clumping in the chest and chest painful obstruction cannot be [successfully] treated without it."
Huang Lian is a deputy ingredient in Xiao Xian Xiong Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
Part used: Dried rhizome
Meridian affinity: GallbladderHeartLarge intestineLiverSpleenStomach
Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness
Huang Lian helps Snake gourd (Gua Lou) - the key herb of this formula -drain Heat and turbidity from the Upper and Middle Burners. As often in Chinese medicine it is a mutually beneficial relationship as the moistening nature of Snake Gourd in turn prevents the d of Goldthread rhizome from aggravating the Stagnation.
Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Xiao Xian Xiong Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
Part used: Dried rhizome and tuber
Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach
Ban Xia is very effective in directing the Rebellious Qi downward, harmonizing the Stomach, transforming Phlegm, eliminating focal distention, and dissipating clumps. Together Snake gourd - the key herb in this formula - it is excellent for treating focal distention of the chest and diaphragm due to clumping of Phlegm and Heat, or for painful obstruction of the chest due to clumping of sticky and thick Phlegm. Together with Goldthread rhizome - the deputy herb in this formula - it treats the obstruction caused by Phlegm-Heat by utilizing their combination of bitter, downward-directing, and acrid opening natures.
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 Xiao Xian Xiong Tang is mostly used to treat the pattern "Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs" which we describe below.
But before we delve into Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:
Hepatitis Cholecystitis Pancreatis Biliary reflux gastritis Peptic ulcers Biliary ascariasis Upper respiratory tract infections Pleurisy Pneumonia Bronchitis Asthma Cerebrovascular disease Psychosis Insomnia
Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Xiao Xian Xiong Tang treats hepatitis" for instance. Rather, Xiao Xian Xiong Tang is used to treat Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs, which is sometimes the root cause behind hepatitis.
Now let's look at Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Xiao Xian Xiong Tang.
The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)
Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating
Tongue shape: Swollen
Symptoms: Fever Clump Thirst Asthma Phlegm Anxiety Coughing Wheezing Insomnia Dizziness Chest pain Constipation Chest fullness Feeling of heat Epigastric pain Phlegm in throat Shortness of breath Clumping in the chest Bitter taste in the mouth Epigastric focal distention Focal distention of the chest Stifling sensation in the chest Coughing of copious thick yellow sputum Feeling of heaviness of the head and body
Xiao Xian Xiong Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. This pattern leads to symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and stifling sensation in the chest. Patients with Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as Red swollen tongue with a sticky yellow coating.
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
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