The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Zuo Jin Wan is a 2-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian) as a principal ingredient.
Invented in 1481 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat. Its main actions are: 1) clears Liver Heat and 2) directs Rebellious Qi downward.
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 Jin Wan is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Stomach Qi Stagnation or Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as morning sickness, esophagitis or gastritis for instance.
On this page, after a detailed description of each of the two ingredients in Zuo Jin Wan, we review the patterns and conditions that Zuo Jin Wan helps treat.
Huang Lian is a king ingredient in Zuo Jin Wan. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Part used: Dried rhizome
Category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness
Huang Lian is bitter and cold and it has two functions. The first is to remove Heat from the Heart (Fire), which is the 'child' of the Liver (Wood) in the generative cycle of the Five Phases. When the Heat is drained from the Liver, it no longer rebels horizontally to invade the Stomach. The second function is to clear Stomach Fire. When the Stomach Fire is drained downward, Qi follows it so that acid reflux is quelled.
Wu Zhu Yu is a deputy ingredient in Zuo Jin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
Part used: Dried nearly ripe fruit
Wu Zhu Yu is hot and acrid. It helps with Qi movement and releases Stagnation by dispersing the Liver. It is also very effective in directing Rebellious Stomach Qi downward. Like the king herb Huang Lian, it thereby also kills two birds with one stone. The hot nature of Wu Zhu Yu is moderated by the cold nature of Huang Lian, whose dosage is six times that of Wu Zhu Yu. The acrid nature of Wu Zhu Yu, on the other hand, ensures that physiological Fire is not drained by the bitter, cold, downward-moving nature of Huang Lian.
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 Jin Wan 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:
Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Zuo Jin Wan treats morning sickness" for instance. Rather, Zuo Jin Wan is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind morning sickness.
Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Zuo Jin Wan.
The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)
Zuo Jin Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Stomach Qi Stagnation. This pattern leads to symptoms such as epigastric pain, epigastric distension, belching and nausea. Patients with Stomach Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.
Epigastric distension is the main symptom of Stomach Qi Stagnation.
Since the Stomach is part of the Middle Burner, the Qi Stagnation there disturbs the normal descending of Stomach Qi, which results in belching, nausea, vomiting and hiccups.
Irritability is also due to the Stagnation of Qi.
The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)
Tongue coating: Thick coating
Tongue color: Red
Zuo Jin Wan is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach. This pattern leads to symptoms such as belching, abdominal distension, epigastric distension and depression. Patients with Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Stomach typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with thick coating.