The recipe Xiao Yao San

Xiao Yao San is a recipe of traditional Chinese medicine. It was originally published as the recipe of a powder preparation in the official manual for preparations of herbal recipes in the Southern Song Dynasty. Nowadays, the ready-made products of the recipe are generally concentrated pills. The article gives the dosage of the recipe for a decoction, as the composition of a decoction recipe is very flexible to adjust according to the conditions of different individuals.

Dosage for daily decoction with water

Zhi Gan Cao 4.5 g, Dang Gui 9 g, Fu Ling 9 g, Bai Shao 9 g, Bai Zhu 9 g, Chai Hu 9g.

Additionally, three pieces of Sheng Jiang (ginger) and 6 g of Bo He are added to the recipe when preparing a decoction.

The method of using the decoction is to drink it.

Original use of the recipe

In the official manual for preparations of herbal recipes in the Southern Song Dynasty, the original recipe of Xiao Yao San is listed in the chapter for diseases of women. The original use of the recipe is involved into three syndromes.

The syndrome of fatigue caused by deficiency of blood: feeling restless, and feeling hot in the center areas of palms and soles and the heart region; feeling pain in the limbs and the body; heavy feeling of the head and dizziness of eyes; palpitations; red cheeks; dry mouth and throat; hot feeling, and night sweats; loss of appetite, and liking to lie on a bed.

The syndrome caused by blood and heat sticking each other: menstruation is in disorder; the navel and the abdomen feel swelling pain; cold feeling and hot feeling are alternate like malaria.
The syndrome with deficiency of blood and Yin and the disharmony between nutrient Qi and defensive Qi, which an unmarried girl may suffer from: coughing with sputum; hot feeling appears like tides; the body is emaciated, and may feel hotness as if it is from bones.

Modern use of the recipe

In modern times, Xiao Yao San is commonly used to unblock the liver and release stagnating Qi, while nourishing blood and invigorating the spleen.

The recipe is applicable to treat the syndrome with the stagnation of liver Qi, the deficiency of blood, and the weakness of the spleen. The syndrome has the symptoms: pain of hypochondria; head pain and dizziness; dry mouth and throat; fatigue and the loss of appetite; sometimes the alternation of cold feeling and hot feeling may appear; if the person is a woman, she may suffer from the disorder of menstruation, or may feel the swelling pain of breasts; the pulse is taut like touching a string, while it is feeble.

The syndrome with stagnation of liver Qi, deficiency of blood and weakness of the spleen

If the person is always depressed, the liver is stuck with the stagnation of Qi. Meanwhile, because of the deficiency of blood, blood is not able to nourish and soften the liver. Then the person feels the pain of hypochondria and the pain of head with dizziness. The stagnating Qi is transformed to fire, so the mouth and the throat of the person are dry.

According to the theory of five elements, the wood of the liver restrains the earth of the spleen. The stagnation of liver Qi makes the wood of the liver excessively restrain the earth of the spleen. When spleen Qi is deficient, the excessive restraining from the wood of the liver may further weaken the earth of the spleen. The deficiency of spleen Qi is always with the deficiency of stomach Qi. The deficiency of Qi of spleen and stomach leads to fatigue and the loss of appetite.

The weakness of the spleen and the stomach brings the weakness of nutrient Qi and defensive Qi, and also causes the disharmony between nutrient Qi and defensive Qi. This is why there is the alternation of cold feeling and hot feeling.

The stagnation of liver Qi, the deficiency of blood and the weakness of the spleen cause the disorder of menstruation of a woman, while the stagnation of liver Qi may cause the swelling pain of breasts.

How the recipe works

Chai Hu unblocks the liver and release the stagnation of liver Qi. It acts the role of a monarch in the recipe.

Dang Gui is sweet and pungent in taste. The herb nourishes blood and makes the flow of blood harmonious. Because of the pungent taste, Dang Gui can also release the stasis of blood.
Bai Shao is sour and bitter in taste, and slightly cold in nature. The herb nourishes blood and holds Yin, while it softens the liver and relieves spasm.

Dang Gui and Bai Shao act the role of a minister in the recipe. There is a saying, “The physical condition of the liver depends on blood, and the functions of the liver depend on Qi.” The two herbs nourish the liver and improve the functions of the liver. The flow of blood is harmonious, and then the liver is harmonious. Blood is sufficient, and then the liver is soft.

Bai Zhu, Fu Ling and Zhi Gan Cao invigorate the spleen and reinforce Qi. When the earth of the spleen is strong, it not only can resist the excessive restraining from the wood of the liver, but also can increase the forming of nutrient Qi and blood. The three herbs act the role of an assistant in the recipe.

Sheng Jiang is pungent in taste and slightly warm in nature. It can make stomach Qi which abnormally moves upwards restore the downward movement, and it can make the stomach function in harmony. Moreover, because of the pungent taste, Sheng Jiang can also help release the stagnation of Qi. The original recipe uses roasted Sheng Jiang for enhancing the effects of Sheng Jiang.

Bo He is pungent in taste and cool in nature. The herb releases the stagnating Qi and removes the heat formed by the stagnating Qi.

Sheng Jiang and Bo He also act the role of an assistant in the recipe.

In the recipe, Chai Hu does not only act the role of a monarch, but also acts the role of a guide, as it guides the effects of the other herbs to the liver.

As a herb which moderates the other herbs and makes them work in coordination, Zhi Gan Cao also acts as a role of a guide.

By releasing the stagnating liver Qi, nourishing the deficient blood, and invigorating the weak spleen, the recipe nourishes both of Qi and blood and regulates both of the liver and the spleen.

Adjusting the recipe for different individuals

Xiao Yao San is the basic recipe for treating the syndrome with the stagnation of liver Qi, the deficiency of blood and the weakness of the spleen, and it is also a commonly used recipe for regulating the menstruation of a woman.

The recipe focuses on releasing the stagnation of liver Qi. In the recipe, Chai Hu acts the role of a monarch, and the herbs that nourish blood and invigorate the spleen act the role of the minister and the assistant.

In practice, the recipe is often adjusted according to the conditions of different individuals.

If the syndrome is mainly characterized by the deficiency of blood, Dang Gui and Bai Shao can act the role of a monarch. And the herbs that invigorate the spleen and release the stagnation of liver Qi act the role of the minister and the assistant.

If the syndrome is mainly characterized by the deficiency of spleen Qi, Bai Zhu can act the role of a monarch, and Fu Ling acts the role of a minister. And the herbs that release the stagnation of liver Qi and nourish blood act the role of the assistant.

If the syndrome is mainly characterized by the deficiency of spleen Qi and the retention of pathogenic dampness, Fu Ling can act the role of a monarch, and Bai Zhu acts the role of a minister. And the herbs that release the stagnation of liver Qi and nourish blood act the role of the assistant.

In a recipe, the sequence of the roles of herbs based on importance are the monarch, the minister, the assistant, and the guide. When the role is higher, the herb’s dosage is increased. Accordingly, if the role is lower, the herb’s dosage is decreased.

REFERENCE:

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

NOTICE:

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.

published on

updated on

Yike Jiang avatar