Stephania roots (Fang Ji) Apricot seeds (Xing Ren)  Job's tears (Yi Yi Ren) Silkworm feces (Can Sha) Crow-dipper rhizomes (Ban Xia) Forsythia fruits (Lian Qiao) Cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) Talc (Hua Shi)

Xuan Bi Tang

Chinese: 宣痹汤

Pinyin: Xuān Bì Tāng

Other names: Disband Painful Obstruction Decoction

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that dispel Wind-Damp

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Rheumatic feverGouty arthritisRheumatoid arthritis and one other condition

  1. Clears and resolves Damp-Heat
  2. Unblocks the meridians
  3. Disbands painful obstruction

Source date: 1798 AD

Source book: Systematic Differentiation of Warm Pathogen Diseases

Xuan Bi Tang is a 9-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Stephania Roots (Fang Ji) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1798 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dispel Wind-Damp. Its main actions are: 1) clears and resolves Damp-Heat and 2) unblocks the meridians.

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 Xuan Bi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles or Painful Obstruction due to Damp Heat in Channels. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis or gouty arthritis for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the nine ingredients in Xuan Bi Tang, we review the patterns and conditions that Xuan Bi Tang helps treat.

The nine ingredients in Xuan Bi Tang

Fang Ji is a king ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Stephania Roots (Fang Ji)

Part used: Dried root

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderLung

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

Fang Ji dispels Damp-Heat in the Upper Burner by venting the Heat externally. At the same time, it disperses superficial swelling and drains Damp-Heat through the urine. It also has some ability to dry Dampness and strengthen the Spleen, which helps resolve the underlying cause of this condition.

Learn more about Stephania Roots (Fang Ji)

Xing Ren is a deputy ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: Large intestineLung

Category: Herbs that relieve coughing and wheezing

In general Xing Ren's main actions are as follows: "Stops cough and wheezing caused by either Heat or Cold. Lubricates the Intestines and relieves constipation."

In the context of Xuan Bi Tang, it is used because it regulates the Lungs' function in water metabolism.

Learn more about Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren)

Yi Yi Ren is a deputy ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Job's Tears (Yi Yi Ren)

Part used: Dried ripe kernel

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

Yi Yi Ren works together with Silkworm feces (Can Sha) to strengthen the Spleen, resolve Dampness, and treat painful obstruction.

Learn more about Job's Tears (Yi Yi Ren)

Can Sha is a deputy ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Silkworm Feces (Can Sha)

Part used: The feces of the worm, dried

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLiver

Category: Herbs that dispel Wind and Dampness

In general Can Sha's main actions are as follows: "Dispels Wind and eliminates Dampness. Harmonizes the Stomach and transforms turbid Dampness."

Learn more about Silkworm Feces (Can Sha)

Ban Xia is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. 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

In general Ban Xia's main actions are as follows: "Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention."

In the context of Xuan Bi Tang, it is used because it dries Dampness and transforms turbidity.

Learn more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia)

Lian Qiao is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

6. Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

Part used: Dried fruit

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: HeartLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

In general Lian Qiao's main actions are as follows: "Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature."

In the context of Xuan Bi Tang, it is used because it is very effective in clearing relatively superficial Heat.

Learn more about Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao)

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

7. 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 works together with Talc (Hua Shi) and Adzuki beans (Chi Xiao Dou), other assistants in this formula, to assist the key herb (Stephania root, Han Fang Ji) in clearing Heat and draining Dampness through the urine.

Learn more about Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)

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

8. Talc (Hua Shi)

Part used: The mineral itself

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: BladderStomach

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Hua Shi's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination. Expels Damp-Heat from the Urinary Bladder. Dispels Summer Heat. Dries Dampness when applied topically."

Learn more about Talc (Hua Shi)

Chi Xiao Dou is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

9. Adzuki Beans (Chi Xiao Dou)

Part used: Dried ripe fruits

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: HeartSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Chi Xiao Dou's main actions are as follows: "Expels dampness by facilitating urination. Activates Blood circulation and detoxifies. Reduces swelling and expels pus."

Learn more about Adzuki Beans (Chi Xiao Dou)

Conditions and patterns for which Xuan Bi 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 Xuan Bi Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat two 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:

Rheumatic fever Rheumatoid arthritis Gouty arthritis Connective tissue disorders

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Xuan Bi Tang treats rheumatic fever" for instance. Rather, Xuan Bi Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind rheumatic fever.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Xuan Bi Tang.

'Heat' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Heat pattern in Chinese Medicine

Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Symptoms: Fever Thirst Anxiety Joints pain Joint stiff Swollen joints Aversion to wind Joints red and hot

Xuan Bi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles. This pattern leads to symptoms such as joints pain, joints red and hot, fever and thirst. Patients with Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses.

It is a type of the Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Bi Syndrome 痹证). 

When Pernicious Influences such as Wind, Damp or Cold penetrates the Defensive Qi and obstructs the Channels, they disturb the normal Qi and Blood circulation of the Channels and give rise to pain and swollen. 

If the patients... read more about Heat invading the Channels joints and muscles

'Heat' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Heat pattern in Chinese Medicine

Painful Obstruction due to Damp Heat in Channels

Xuan Bi Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Painful Obstruction due to Damp Heat in Channels. This pattern leads to symptoms such as heat and pain in the joints, reduced mobility, fever and shaking chills. Patients with Painful Obstruction due to Damp Heat in Channels typically exhibit a tongue with yellow coating

Learn more about Painful Obstruction due to Damp Heat in Channels

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