Prepared rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) Cornelian cherries (Shan Zhu Yu) Goji berries (Gou Qi Zi) Yam (Shan Yao)

Zuo Gui Yin

Chinese: 左归饮

Pinyin: Zuǒ Guī Yǐn

Other names: Restore the Left (Kidney) Drink

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula category: Formulas that nourish Yin and tonify

Mother formula: Zuo Gui Wan

Conditions for which it may be prescribed: Menopausal syndromeAbsence of menstruation

  1. Nourishes the Yin
  2. Tonifies the Kidneys

Source date: 1624 AD

Source book: Collected Treatises of (Zhang) Jing-Yue

Zuo Gui Yin is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient.

Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify. Its main actions are: 1) nourishes the Yin and 2) tonifies the Kidneys.

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 Zuo Gui Yin is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Kidney Yin Deficiency or Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as menopausal syndrome or absence of menstruation for instance.

On this page, after a detailed description of each of the six ingredients in Zuo Gui Yin, we review the patterns and conditions that Zuo Gui Yin helps treat.

The six ingredients in Zuo Gui Yin

Shu Di huang is a king ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

1. Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Part used: Prepared dried root tuber

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Blood Deficiency

Shu Di huang tonifies the true Yin of the five Yin Organs. In case of Yin Deficiency that causes Empty Fire to rise, the heaviness of Shu Di huang can direct it downward sufficiently. It can also be used for settling down restless movement and hard tension.

Learn more about Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang)

Shan Zhu Yu is a deputy ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

2. Cornelian Cherries (Shan Zhu Yu)

Part used: Dried ripe sarcocarp

Nature: Warm

Taste(s): Sour

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Herbs that stabilize and bind

Shan Zhu Yu nourishes the Liver Blood and restrains the leakage of Essence. It performs the latter function by inhibiting the improper dispersion and drainage through the Liver, thereby enabling the Essence to build up in the Kidneys. It work synergistically with Shu Di huang and Goji berries.

Learn more about Cornelian Cherries (Shan Zhu Yu)

Gou Qi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

3. Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi)

Part used: Dried ripe fruit

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: KidneyLiver

Category: Tonic herbs for Yin Deficiency

Gou Qi Zi nourishes the Liver Blood. Together with Shan Zhu Yu, they work synergistically with the chief herb Shu Di huang.

Learn more about Goji Berries (Gou Qi Zi)

Shan Yao is a deputy ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

4. Yam (Shan Yao)

Part used: Dried rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenKidneyLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Shan Yao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing."

In the context of Zuo Gui Yin, it is used because it benefits the Yin and tonifies the Spleen which is the origin of the postnatal Qi and Blood.

Learn more about Yam (Shan Yao)

Fu Ling is an assistant ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

5. Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Part used: Dried sclerotium

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenHeartKidneyLung

Category: Herbs that drain Dampness

In general Fu Ling's main actions are as follows: "Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit."

In the context of Zuo Gui Yin, it is used because it drains Dampness.

Learn more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling)

Gan Cao is an envoy ingredient in Zuo Gui Yin. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

6. Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Part used: Dried root and rhizome

Nature: Neutral

Taste(s): Sweet

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachHeartLung

Category: Tonic herbs for Qi Deficiency

In general Gan Cao's main actions are as follows: "Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs."

In the context of Zuo Gui Yin, it is used because it harmonizes all ingredients.

Learn more about Liquorice (Gan Cao)

Conditions and patterns for which Zuo Gui Yin 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 Zuo Gui Yin 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:

Menopausal syndrome Absence of menstruation

Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Zuo Gui Yin treats menopausal syndrome" for instance. Rather, Zuo Gui Yin is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind menopausal syndrome.

Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Zuo Gui Yin.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Zuo Gui Yin is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and night sweats. Patients with Kidney Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu), empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a red tongue with complete absence of coating.

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can also lead to an insufficient amount of Marrow to fill the Brain, causing poor memory and dizziness. Yin Deficiency of the Kidneys is... read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency

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

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Zuo Gui Yin is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency. This pattern leads to symptoms such as soreness and weakness in the lower back, lightheadedness, vertigo and tinnitus. Patients with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a red tongue with partial absence of coating.

Learn more about Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

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