Morning glory seeds (Qian Niu Zi) Fennel seeds (Xiao Hui Xiang) Fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Chinese: 禹功散

Pinyin: Yú Gōng Sǎn

Other names: Yu's Achievement Powder

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that drive out excess water

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: HydroceleNephritis with Edema

  1. Expels water and
  2. Reduces edema
  3. Unblocks the bowels
  4. Moves Qi

Contraindications: It should be taken with caution during pregnancy and in old or disabled... It should be taken with caution during pregnancy and in old or disabled patients due to its purgative effects. This is a formula for Excess disorders. see more

Source date: 1228 AD

Source book: Confucians' Duties to Their Parents

Yu Gong San is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Morning Glory Seeds (Qian Niu Zi) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1228 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that drive out excess water. Its main actions are: 1) expels water and and 2) reduces edema.

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 Yu Gong San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Oedema. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as nephritis with edema or hydrocele for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the three ingredients in Yu Gong San, we review the patterns and conditions that Yu Gong San helps treat.

The three ingredients in Yu Gong San

Qian Niu Zi is a king ingredient in Yu Gong San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Morning Glory Seeds (Qian Niu Zi)

Part used: Seeds

Nature: Cold

Taste(s): BitterPungent

Meridian affinity: KidneyLarge intestineLung

Category: Cathartic herbs that drain downward

Qian Niu Zi directs downward. It reduces Edema by promoting urination and driving out water by means of purgation.

Learn more about Morning Glory Seeds (Qian Niu Zi)

Xiao Hui Xiang is a deputy ingredient in Yu Gong San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Fennel Seeds (Xiao Hui Xiang)

Part used: Dried ripe fruits

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiverSpleenStomach

Category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

Xiao Hui Xiang moves Qi and stops pain. Its warmth moderates the Cold nature of the key herb. Meanwhile, its acrid nature aids restoration of the normal Qi dynamic. Hence, it considerably strengthens the power of the formula to drive out Water.

Learn more about Fennel Seeds (Xiao Hui Xiang)

Sheng Jiang is an assistant ingredient in Yu Gong San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

3. Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Part used: Fresh root

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: LungSpleenStomach

Category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

Sheng Jiang opens the pores and interstices to facilitate the Qi movement and the driving out of Water Dampness.

Learn more about Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang)

Yu Gong San is used to treat Oedema

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 Yu Gong San is mostly used to treat the pattern "Oedema" which we describe below.

But before we delve into Oedema here is an overview of the Western conditions it is commonly associated with:

Nephritis with Edema Hydrocele

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Yu Gong San treats nephritis with edema" for instance. Rather, Yu Gong San is used to treat Oedema, which is sometimes the root cause behind nephritis with edema.

Now let's look at Oedema, a pattern that TCM practitioners commonly treat with Yu Gong San.

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


Yu Gong San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Oedema. This pattern leads to symptoms such as oedema of abdomen, oedema of ankles, oedema of face and oedema of feet. Patients with Oedema typically exhibit hidden (Fu) or slowed-down (Huan) pulses as well as Pale tongue with white sticky coating or white slippery coating.

Oedema (also spelled "Edema") a retention of Body Fluids that results in swellings, depending where the retention occurs: it can be in the limbs, the legs, the face, etc. The swellings are usually so that if one presses on it with a finger, the resulting dip takes a long time to disappear.

Oedema... read more about Oedema

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