Yam (Shan Yao) Foxnut seeds (Qian Shi) Ginkgo nuts (Bai Guo) Phellodendron bark (Huang Bo)

Yi Huang Tang

Chinese: 易黄汤

Pinyin: Yì Huáng Tāng

Other names: Change Yellow (Discharge) Decoction

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that secure irregular uterine bleeding and stop vaginal discharge

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: VaginitisCervicitisTrichomoniasis and three other conditions

  1. Strengthens the Spleen
  2. Dries Dampness
  3. Clears Heat
  4. Stops vaginal discharge

Contraindications: Contraindicated for patients with yellow vaginal discharge due to Damp Heat or... Contraindicated for patients with yellow vaginal discharge due to Damp Heat or for patients who do not have Damp-Heat. see more

Source date: 1826 AD

Source book: Fu Qing Zhu's Gynecology

Yi Huang Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Yam (Shan Yao) and Foxnut Seeds (Qian Shi) as principal ingredients.

Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that secure irregular uterine bleeding and stop vaginal discharge. Its main actions are: 1) strengthens the Spleen and 2) dries 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 Yi Huang Tang is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Spleen Yang Deficiency, Damp-Heat or Spleen Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as abnormal vaginal discharge, cervicitis or cervical erosion for instance.

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

The five ingredients in Yi Huang Tang

Shan Yao is a king ingredient in Yi Huang Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Yam (Shan Yao)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

Shan Yao strengthens the Spleen and stabilizes the Penetrating Vessel and the Essence. It also works together with Qian Shi (Foxnut seeds) to tonify the Directing Vessel Deficiency. The 2 herbs are also able to support Body Fluids metabolism.

Learn more about Yam (Shan Yao)

Qian Shi is a king ingredient in Yi Huang Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

2. Foxnut Seeds (Qian Shi)

Part used: Dried kernels of ripe seeds

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): SourSweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidney

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Qian Shi tonifies the Kidneys and the Spleen and binds up the discharge. It also works with  Shan Yao (Yam)  to tonify the Directing Vessel Deficiency.

Learn more about Foxnut Seeds (Qian Shi)

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

3. Ginkgo Nuts (Bai Guo)

Part used: Dried ripe seed

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): BitterSweet

Meridian affinity: Lung

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

In general Bai Guo's main actions are as follows: "Assists the Lung Qi, stops cough and expels Phlegm. Stops leakage of Bodily Fluids."

In the context of Yi Huang Tang, it is used because it stabilizes the Lower Burner and restrains the discharge.

Learn more about Ginkgo Nuts (Bai Guo)

Huang Bo is an assistant ingredient in Yi Huang Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

4. Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Part used: Dried bark

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): Bitter

Meridian affinity: BladderKidneyLarge intestine

Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

In general Huang Bo's main actions are as follows: "Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness."

In the context of Yi Huang Tang, it is used because it is bitter and cooling. It enters the Kidneys and drains excessive Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner.

Learn more about Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo)

Che Qian Zi is an assistant ingredient in Yi Huang Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Plantain Seeds (Che Qian Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe seeds

Nature: Cool

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiverLungSmall intestine

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Che Qian Zi's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and clears Heat. Stops diarrhea by expelling water through urination. Brightens the eyes, used in combination either for Deficiency or Heat. Reduces inflammation of infections. Arrests cough and expectorates Phlegm."

In the context of Yi Huang Tang, it is used because it is sweet and cooling. It removes Dampness primarily through the urine.

Learn more about Plantain Seeds (Che Qian Zi)

Conditions and patterns for which Yi Huang 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 Yi Huang Tang is used by TCM practitioners to treat three 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:

Abnormal vaginal discharge Cervicitis Cervical erosion Vaginitis Trichomoniasis Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Yi Huang Tang treats abnormal vaginal discharge" for instance. Rather, Yi Huang Tang is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind abnormal vaginal discharge.

Now let's look at the three patterns commonly treated with Yi Huang Tang.

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Fatigue Cold limbs Weak Limbs Loose stools Poor appetite Feeling of cold Vagina discharge

Yi Huang Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen Yang Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as cold limbs, feeling of cold, loose stools and edema. Patients with Spleen Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Generally speaking, Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe, with additional Cold symptoms, such as a cold feeling and cold limbs. It is because Spleen Yang fails to warm the body and Organs. Because of that, the body metabolism get... read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency

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

Spleen Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Symptoms: Edema Tiredness Dull face Sore back Depression Cold limbs Amenorrhea Weak Limbs Loose stools Poor appetite White vaginal discharge Sticky vaginal discharge

Yi Huang Tang is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Spleen Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as sticky vaginal discharge, tiredness, depression and cold limbs. Patients with Spleen Deficiency typically exhibit weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

Learn more about Spleen Deficiency

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