Recipes of Chinese herbs for headache caused by wind and coldness

In traditional Chinese medicine, the causes of headache include external pathogenic factors and internal factors. The external pathogenic factors which can cause headache are wind, coldness, dampness, and heat, while wind plays a key role.

The pathogenic wind is called the first factor that leads diseases, because wind is very active in four seasons, and always carries other pathogenic factors to invade the body. As Su Wen says, “When wind hurts the body, the upper part is influenced firstly.” Six Yang meridians meet in the head, and the head gathers the pure Yang-Qi. The pathogenic factors stay in meridians and their branches, leading to the blocking of Yang-Qi. Accordingly, Qi and blood cannot run smoothly, so headache occurs.

When wind and coldness invade the head, in addition to headache, the person may fear coldness and shiver. When wind and heat invade the head, in addition to headache, the person may feel hot and restless. When wind and dampness invade the head, in addition to headache, the person may have the feeling of heaviness, distending and blocking.

When wind and coldness cause headache, the pain may involve the neck and the back, and have the feeling of pulling, spasm and tightness. The person may fear wind and coldness, and when wind blows on the head the pain becomes stronger. The head may feel better after getting covered. The person doesn’t want to drink water. The tongue is pale red, and the coating of the tongue is thin and white. The pulse is floating, and sometimes it is also tight.

The treatment principle of the syndrome is to expel wind, dissipate coldness, and relieve pain.

The representative recipe for the syndrome is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San. The recipe contains Chuan Xiong (12 g), Jing Jie (12 g), Bo He (12 g), Qiang Huo (6 g), Xi Xin (3 g), Bai Zhi (6 g), Fang Feng (4.5 g), and Zhi Gan Cao (6 g). The original preparation form of the recipe is powder, and green tea is used for taking the powder, so this is why the recipe is called Cha Tiao San.

(The original recipe Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San, which is recorded in the official standard of preparation of recipes published by the Song Dynasty in the 12th century)

If headache and fear of coldness are severe, Ma Huang, Gui Zhi, and Zhi Chuan Wu can be added to the recipe.

In the case of headache that occurs in the top of the head, if the person has dry heaving, throws up frothy liquid, hands and feet are cold and even the forearms and the lower legs are cold, the recipe should be changed to Wu Zhu Yu Tang with necessary modification, including removing Ren Shen and adding Gao Ben, Chuan Xiong, Xi Xin, and Ban Xia.

If at the same time of headache, the feet are cold, the symptoms of Qi moving abnormally upwards occur, the back is cold, and the pulse is sunken and thin, the recipe is changed to Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang with Bai Zhi and Chuan Xiong.


1. Wu Zhu Yu Tang: The recipe contains Wu Zhu Yu (9 g), Ren Shen (9 g), Sheng Jiang (18 g), Da Zao (4, number).

2. The symptoms of Qi moving abnormally upwards: The typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, belching, coughing, and dizziness. The symptoms do not necessarily appear at the same time.

3. Ma Huang Fu Zi Xi Xin Tang: The recipe contains Ma Huang, Fu Zi, and Xi Xin.


1. Zhang, Boli, & Wu, Mianhua. (2017). Internal Medicine of TCM. China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

2. Li, Ji, & Lian, Jianwei. (2016). Recipes of Traditional Chinese Medicine. China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine.


Some medicinal materials are not allowed to use in the EU. The knowledge of the article is based on the conditions of China. The actual use of medicinal materials in the EU complies with the regulations of the EU.

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