Gypsum (Shi Gao) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) Saposhnikovia roots (Fang Feng) Korean mint (Huo Xiang)

Chinese: 泻黄散

Pinyin: Xiè Huáng Sàn

Other names: Drain the Yellow Powder

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that clear Heat from the Organs

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Oral thrushApthous ulcers

Main actions: Clears Stagnant Fire from the Spleen and Stomach

Source date: 1119 AD

Source book: Craft of Medicinal Treatment for Childhood Disease Pattern

Xie Huang San is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Gypsum (Shi Gao) and Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1119 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs. Its main action is that it clears Stagnant Fire from the Spleen and Stomach.

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 Xie Huang San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like /tcm-education-center/patterns/stomach-heat-or-fire. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as apthous ulcers or oral thrush for instance.

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

The five ingredients in Xie Huang San

Shi Gao is a king ingredient in Xie Huang San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Gypsum (Shi Gao)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: LungStomach

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

Shi Gao is acrid and cooling. It is one of the principal herbs for clearing Heat from the Middle Burner. Although it is the key ingredients, the dosage is relatively small. This is to prevent its cooling and descending actions from further constraining or bottling-up the Stagnant Fire.

Learn more about Gypsum (Shi Gao)

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

2. 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 drains Heat from all Triple Burners through the urine and enters the Heart to relieve irritability.  Although it is the key ingredients, the dosage is relatively small. This is to prevent its cooling and descending actions from further constraining or bottling-up the Stagnant Fire.

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

Fang Feng is a deputy ingredient in Xie Huang San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): PungentSweet

Meridian affinity: BladderLiverSpleen

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Fang Feng disperses the Stagnant Spleen Fire in accordance with the principle of treating Stagnant Fire by dispersing.  If the condition is treated simply as a case of Stomach fire to be cleared and drained, and the dispersing action of this herb is omitted, there will be no improvement. Saposhnikovia root also supports the physiological ascending function of the Spleen Yang.  The combination of Saposhnikovia root and the two key herbs drains Fire without injuring the Spleen and Stomach Yang, and disperse constraint without fanning pathological Fire.

Learn more about Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng)

Huo Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Xie Huang San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Part used: Dried aerial parts

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach

Category: Aromatic herbs that transform Dampness

Huo Xiang aromatically revives the Spleen. Working together with Saposhnikovia root, it restores the Qi mechanisms of the Spleen and Stomach and assists in dispersing the Stagnant Fire.

Learn more about Korean Mint (Huo Xiang)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Xie Huang 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: HeartLungSpleenStomach

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Gan Cao regulate the Middle Burner, drain Fire, and harmonize the actions of the other ingredients in the formula.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Xie Huang San is used to treat Stomach Heat or Fire

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 Xie Huang San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Stomach Heat or Fire" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Stomach Heat or Fire here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Apthous ulcers Oral thrush

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Xie Huang San treats apthous ulcers" for instance. Rather, Xie Huang San is used to treat Stomach Heat or Fire, which is sometimes the root cause behind apthous ulcers.

Now let's look at Stomach Heat or Fire, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Xie Huang San.

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

Stomach Heat or Fire

Xie Huang San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Heat or Fire. This pattern leads to symptoms such as burning epigastric pain, intense thirst, desire for cold drinks and restlnessness. Patients with Stomach Heat or Fire typically exhibit rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua) or full (Shi) pulses as well as Red in the center with a dry thick yellow or dark yellow coating.

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst as well as strong desire for cold drinks and foods. The Blood in the Stomach Channel get rebellious due to the extreme Heat or Fire, so that it leaks out of vessels and... read more about Stomach Heat or Fire

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