The blood formulas

Ben tun tang, cools and nourishes blood, calms internal upward rushing wind.

Ben tun tang ge gen 15 sang bai pi 24 huang qin 6 ban xia 12 bai shao 6 chuan xiong 6 dang gui 6 sheng jiang 12 zhi gan cao 6

Da huang zhe chong tang, drying out of blood, softens blood while nourishing.

Da huang zhe chong wan da huang 12 sheng di huang 12 tao ren 9 xing ren 9 mang chong 9 shui zhi 9 qi cao 9 zhe chong 6 bai shao 3 huang qin 3 zhi gan cao 3

Dang gui jian zhong tang, warming and nourishing blood while supporting the center

Dang gui jian zhong tang also known as Nie bu xiang gui jian zhong tang, which Sun Si Mao made famous. dang gui 9 gui zhi 9 bai shao 18 sheng jiang 9 da zao 9 zhi gan cao 6 yi tang 30

Dang gui san, blood nourishing and damp heat clearing.

Dang gui san dang gui 12 bai shao 12 chuan xiong 12 huang qin 12 bai zhu 6

Dang gui shao yao san, blood and fluid moving.

Dang gui shao yao san dang gui 9 bai shao 48 chuan xiong 24 bai zhu 12 fu ling 12 ze xie 24

Dang gui si ni tang, blood warming and nourishing, while warming the interior.

Dang gui si ni tang dang gui 9 gui zhi 9 bai shao 9 da zao 15 zhi gan cao 6 xi xin 9 tong cao 6

Dang gui sini jia wu zhu yu sheng jiang tang, super blood warming and moving, while warming the interior.

Dang gui si ni jia wu zhu yu sheng jiang tang dang gui 9 gui zhi 9 bai shao 9 sheng jiang 24 da zao 15 zhi gan cao 6 xi xin 9 tong cao 6 wu zhu yu 18

Di dang tang, blood breaking and moving.

Di dang tang jiu da huang 9 tao ren 3 shui zhi 9 di bie chong 9

Gui zhi fu ling wan, gentle blood moving.

Gui zhi fu ling wan gui zhi 9 bai shao 9 fu ling 9 tao ren 9 mu dan pi 9

Jiao ai tang, blood warming and nourishing.

Jiao ai tang also known as Xiong gui jiao ai tang also known as Jiao ai si wu tang sheng di huang 18 dang gui 9 bai shao 12 chuan xiong 6 gan cao 6 ejiao 9 ai ye 9

Wen jiang tang, blood warming especially for jue yin liver blood.

Wen jing tang wu zhu yu 9 mai men dong 24 ban xia 12 gui zhi 6 bai shao 6 chuan xiong 6 dang gui 6 ejiao 6 ren shen 6 mu dan pi 6 sheng jiang 6 zhi gan cao 6

Xiao jiang zhong tang, blood nourishing while supporting the center.

Xiao jian zhong tang gui zhi 9 bai shao 18 sheng jiang 9 da zao 6 zhi gan cao 6 yi tang 30 ml

Zhi gan cao tang, blood nourishing and heart yang tonifying.

Zhi gan cao tang sheng di huang 48 mai men dong 12 ejiao 6 ren shen 6 hou ma ren 12 gui zhi 9 sheng jiang 9 da zao 18 zhi gan cao 12

Gui zhi tang

Gui zhi tang

gui zhi 9 bai shao 9 sheng jiang 9 da zao 9 zhi gan cao 6

Line 12 In tai yang wind strike with floating yang and weak yin, floating yang is spontaneous heat effusion and weak yin is spontaneous issue of sweat. If there is huddled aversion to cold, wetted aversion to wind, feather warm heat effusion, noisy nose, and a dry retching, gui zhi tang governs.

Line 13 For tai yang disease with headache, heat effusion, sweating, and aversion to wind, gui zhi tang governs.

This has to be the most famous formula in Chinese Herbal Medicine. It is always included in the list of formulas that clear the surface. What does it clear?

When the outer layers of the body cool off this gives rise to chills. The cold can also give rise to function loss of the pores and sweating occurs. All of the yang qi in the body comes together at one point, du mai 14, and is simply called tai yang.

The nature of tai yang is to open and rise. We see this in spring and summer. A disease of tai yang is a failure to open.

Gui zhi opens the yang qi to warm the surface and interior. Sheng jiang is working together with gui zhi to warm the surface and the interior, especially the tai yin spleen.

Bai shao is replacing the lost fluids by nourishing yin and blood. It calms excessive outward movement and collects and descends yang qi. This cooling and descending nature of bai shao corresponds with the nature of metal and yang ming. The nourishing nature of bai shao corresponds with jue yin liver and pericardium blood storage.

Da zao tonifies the earth and nourishes the jue yin liver blood along with the bai shao. The tai yin raising nature of sheng jiang brings the da zao up to the 100 vessels.

Zhi gan cao tonifies the earth while moistening yin fluids. It ensures a smooth transformation of qi.

There are different types of tai yang wind patterns. There is tai yang wind cold. Which means that surface is closed and there is no sweating. There is tai yang wind strike. Which means there is sweating. Tai yang wind cold is called an excess pattern since the accumulation of excess cold prevents normal functioning. Tai yang wind strike is called a deficiency pattern since yang qi is deficient and there is a loss of fluids such as sweat. There is also a combination pattern where the surface is partially closed and partially open.

Ma huang tang is a closed surface formula. Ma huang tang contains ma huang and gui zhi.

Gui zhi tang is an open surface pattern. Gui zhi tang contains gui zhi and bai shao.

Ge gen tang is a half open and half closed pattern. Ge gen tang contains ma huang, gui zhi, and bai shao.

The images of Trigrams

Yin and yang are symbolically represented by lines.

A solid line represents a yang quality. A broken line represents a yin quality.

Using one line to graphically illustrate the different qualities falls short when trying to describe different types of natural phenomena. That’s where the trigrams and hexagrams come in.

By adding another line to the existing yin and yang lines gives birth to four different combinations. These correspond with the directions of the compass.

Utmost yin corresponds with the north, utmost yang corresponds with the south, yin within yang corresponds with the east, and yang within yin corresponds with the west.

Adding another line gives birth to the eight trigrams. The eight trigrams symbolize the eight natural phenomena: sky, earth, thunder, wind, water, fire, mountain and lake.

To learn the different trigrams the Three Character song can be used. It goes like this.

Qian heaven’s continuous three

Kun earth’s broken six

Zhen thunder’s wide-mouthed jar

Gen mountain’s bowl overturned

Li flame’s center is empty

Kan water’s center is full

Dui lake’s top is lacking

Sun wind’s bottom is broken

Each trigram has a meaning that is useful for Chinese Medicine.

Heaven, the Creative

Creativity, Heaven, Light, Warmth, Sun, Drying, Male, Utmost Yang

Earth, the Receptive

Receptive, Earth, Dark, Cold, Female, Utmost Yin, Source of Myriad things

Thunder, the Arousing

Arousing, Shaking, Triggers Change, Destruction and Construction, Earth on top of Heaven. Earth affecting Heaven

Mountain, Keeping Still

Stillness, Earth towering towards Heaven, Forever

Fire, the Clinging

Consuming energy, Clinging, Radiance, Breaking Free, Departing

Water, the Abysmal

Abysmal, Gorge, Downward, Yang moves yin

Lake, the Joyous

Joyous, Open, Creation below Change

Wind, the Gentle

Gentle, Obedient, Ground, Heaven affects Earth

Richard Wilhelm has this to say about the trigrams.

From, The I Ching on Early-heaven Xiantian

Heaven and earth determine the directions. The forces of mountain and lake are united. Thunder and wind arouse each other. Water and fire do not combat each other. Thus are the eight trigrams intermingled.

He describes the trigrams in pairs.

Qian heaven Creativity is paired with Kun earth Receptive

Zhen thunder Arousing is paired with Gen mountain Stillness

Li flame Consuming is paired with Kan water Abysmal

Dui lake Open is paired with Xun wind Gentle

Zhen and Gen have two yin lines combined with one yang line, Dui and Sun have two yang lines combined with one yin line.

Zhen thunder

Gen mountain

Dui lake

Sun wind

Utmost yin and utmost yang are paired with mixed yin and yang. Li flame has yin in yang, and Kan water has yang in yin.

Qian heaven

Kun earth

Li flame

Kan water

The trigrams can also be organized by their yin and yang qualities.

From the Classic, True Transmission of Medical Principals, Of Qian and Kun’s six children, the youngest and the oldest are all imbued with biases of Qian and Kun. Only the middle male and female have received their natural disposition from Qian and Kun. People receive the cardinal qi of their original nature from heaven and earth and thereby come to life. Kan and Li therefore act as the root of establishing life.

Heaven and earth give birth to six children.

The three male offspring, Zhen thunder, Kan water, Gen mountain.

The three female offspring, Sun wind, Li flame, Dui lake.

Kan and Li are the most important because they act as the root of establishing life.

Kan water is a yang child of heaven and earth. Its original nature is yang. It is the yang nature of water that brings it to life.

Li flame is a yin child of heaven and earth. Its original nature is yin. It is the yin nature of fire that allows the flame to burn.  


A taxation pattern indicates that yang and yin are both deficient. Yang fails to warm, move, and transform, while yin fails to nourish, anchor, contain, and moisten the yang.

In chapter 6 there are three different patterns and formulas described.

Each contains abdominal urgency or tightness as one of the key symptoms. Yet each pattern is slightly different.

Chapter 6 Line 13 For deficiency taxation with abdominal urgency, palpitations, nosebleed, abdominal pain, dream emission, soreness and pain of the four limbs, vexing heat of the extremities, and dryness of the mouth and throat, xiao jian zhong tang is indicated.

Xiao jian zhong tang treats a pattern where the yin fails to contain the yang which becomes excessive and starts to float up and out.

The weak yang fails to control the heart yang which leads to palpitations. The rising heat causes nose bleed, vexing heat in the extremities. The rising heat damages the yin and fluids even more. The yang fails to transform the yin fluids which causes dryness of the mouth and throat. The demise of yin and fluids causes dryness, which leads to abdominal urgency and pain, soreness and pain of the extremities, and dryness of the mouth and throat.

Chapter 6 Line 14 For deficiency taxation, abdominal urgency, and the various kinds of insufficiency, huang qi jian zhong tang is indicated.

By looking at the nature of huang qi we can understand this formula. Huang qi is a both a yang and yin herb. It is yang in that it raises the tai yin spleen clear qi to the 100 vessels. Which is a way of saying it tonifies and nourishes the whole body. It is also a yin herb in that it nourishes the clear qi needed to nourish the whole body.

Chapter 6 Line 15 For deficiency taxation manifesting with lumbar pain, lesser abdominal hypertonicity, and inhibited urination, ba wei shen qi wan is indicated.

In this line urination is mentioned and not in the other lines giving the impression that this is a key symptom. Weak yang is failing to transform yin fluids and cold has closed the bladder. Excessive yin dryness is causing back pain and tightness in the abdomen.

Shen qi wan also treats excessive urination due to cold failing to transform fluid which drop out the lower burner as excessive urination.

Chapter 13 Line 3 For men with dispersion-thirst yet with profuse urination who drink one dou of water and urinate one dou, shen qi wan is indicated.

Why is it impossible to know the essential nature of Dao?

How does it move and what is the connection to the five agents.

Hat tip to L. Jarret for a clear explanation.

Humans are the Dao.

So when humans talk to explain about the Dao, they are the Dao explaining itself. The process of humans speaking about the nature of existence is the Dao judging itself, which then loses its chaotic nature.

The act of naming changes pre-heaven to post-heaven which changes the Dao from eternal to short lived.

To give anything a personal name is to give it a destiny and life. By naming the myriad things they become illuminated and thus drawn out of the void of chaos.   

The eternal Dao is unchanging, yet it does have an understandable movement. This is reflected in the statement from the Dao De Jing.

I do not know its proper name but will call it Dao. If forced to give it a name I shall call it great. Great means moving away, moving away means far away, and far away means ultimately to return.

The movement of the Dao is described by Laozi as ziran, which means self- becoming. At every moment the Dao spontaneously becomes itself, forever leaving from and then returning to its original nature.

In the Dao’s primordial journey, the fourth stage is always a returning to itself.

Dao gives birth to one, one gives birth to two, two gives birth to three, which gives birth to the myriad things.

The basic numbering of the universe is described in Chapter 42 of the Dao De Jing in four stages. It is moving from the unity of non-being Dao to being the myriad things.

The fifth stage is the axis around which the Dao’s movement occurs. The movements of the Dao are the cosmological basis for the five agents.

1 is water which is great

2 is fire which is moving away

3 is wood which is far away

4 is metal which is return

5 is earth which is the axis

The first stage of Dao corresponds to water which represents the potential basis for all manifestations in life.

The generation of fire from water corresponds to moving away from its original nature.

These two poles generate a third stage which corresponds to wood. The function of wood is to blend water and fire back into one by harmonizing.

The fourth stage signifies a return from the duality of fire and water back into the original nature of Dao as unity.

This cycle is the cycle we see in the seasons and a day. It is broken down into twelve earthly branches.

Every day and every year the Dao moves away, and returns to itself.

Putting the Emperor back on his throne

Putting the Emperor back on his throne expresses the treatment strategy of connecting the person to the heavens, great void and spirit brilliance.

In Chapter 66 of the Yellow Emperor’s Classic states, The ruler fire relies on being honored, the minister fire relies on its position.

The ruler fire is referring to the Emperor. The emperor is associated with the heart. Yet, the heart is the only organ without the flesh radical, all the other organs have one, suggesting that the heart is something without form.

The heart also has form and this form is the yin aspect of storing jing which is its ming men aspect.

So the heart has form and no form at the same time. The ruler fire connects us to the changes of the five elements or five aspects and to yin and yang. Without this connection there would be no transformation and changes.

This ruler fire is an aspect of yang qi called spirit brightness and its location is the great void.

Now, the five periods and yin and yang, they are the way of heaven and earth, the fundamental principals governing the myriad things, father and mother to change and transformation, basis and beginning of generating and killing, they are the palace of spirit brilliance.

The palace brilliance is the five elements and yang and yin. The palace brilliance is the starting place of change and transformation. We need to be connected to this brightness because it is what keeps us healthy.

Wang Bing, That union and dispersion of qi are immeasurable, that generation and transformation of the myriad beings is inexhaustible, all this is possible only because of the movement of the spirit brightness.

The spirit brightness resides in the heavens.

Now, as for the operation of change and transformation, in heaven it is darkness, the darkness generates the spirit.

Wang Bing, Darkness is distance, is hidden and deep, hence it generates the spirit.

The great void spreads the true magic power of qi. The myriad beings depend on the great void to come into existence.

Wang Bing, The true qi of the great void reaches everywhere. The true qi supports generation and existence. Hence anything that depends on qi and contains magic power embraces true qi to be alive.

The great void is to say, the region of emptiness and darkness, that which is filled by the true qi, the palace of spirit brightness. The true qi is infinitesimal, nothing is to far for it to reach.

Cold, dryness, fire, dampness, heat, and wind, these are the yin and yang of heaven. The three yang and three yin act on their behalf.

Tai yang cold, yang ming dryness, shao yang fire, tai yin dampness, shao yin heat, and jue yin wind act on the behalf on the six qi in heaven.

It is the formless heart that connects us to the heavens, and the great void where the spirit palace resides.

We must honor the ruler fire when we treat for this is the source of all change and transformation. When we treat we restore the function of yang qi and nourish the yin qi. This is putting the Emperor back on his throne.

This connects us the great mystery of the Dao stated in Chapter 1 Dao De Ching.

The Way that can be walked is not the eternal Way. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth.

The named is the mother of all things. Therefore: Free from desire you see the mystery.

Full of desire you see the manifestations. These two have the same origin but differ in name.

That is the secret, The secret of secrets, The gate to all mysteries.

Chapter 74 Wang Bing, The ruler fire does not rule a period.

Lin Yi, The ruler fire exists by name, the minister fire exists by position. That is to say the ruler fire does not rule a period.

Zhang Jiebing, The difference between the five periods, or elements, or agents, and the six qi, is that the periods are based on the heavenly stems, and the six qi are based on the earthly branches.

Five elements are based on the 10 heavenly stems.

The six qi are based on the 12 earthly branches.

Ruler fire is found in the six qi on earth, in the shao yin heart. The minister fire is found in the shao yin heart. The ruler fire rules in name only. We give respect to it by calling its name. It is the connection to the Dao and nature. 

In the great void is the grand qi. The grand qi is the qi of creation, it sustains the great void.

Zhang Jiebing, The grand qi is the principal qi of the great void. All the myriad things depend on it. Hence the earth is located in the middle of the great void because it is supported by the principal qi.

The six qi are the transformations of the grand qi. That is, the activities of the six qi between heaven and earth.

Zhang Zhicong, That is to say how the six qi move between heaven above and earth below. Cold, dryness, fire, dampness, heat, and wind are qi without physical appearance in heaven. Hardening, drying, warming, moistening, steaming, and moving are their corporal manifestations on the earth.

The six qi enter the earth. Hence they let the corporal qi receive non-corporal qi of the great void and thereby generate and transform the myriad things.

Every time we treat we make sure our patients are connected to this ability to transform and change. That is putting the Emperor back on his throne.

Chapter 49 Explanation of the vessels

Chapter 49 Explanation of the vessels

The channels are being described with the hexagrams and 12 branches. Fabulous!

Using the Hexagrams from the I Ching gives us a visual image of the relationship between yang and yin. The six divisions used in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic each has its own unique image.  

Tai yang

 Tai hexagram, Yin branch, the first month

The first month is tai yang, is yin. In the first month the yang qi comes out above while the yin qi abounds. The yang has not reached its own turn of domination yet.

Wang Bing, During the first month, the third yang qi is generated. It is responsible for setting up the yin as the first month of the year. The third yang qi is called tai yang. Hence the text states, Yin is major yang.

The first month occurs in the winter which is a yin time period. Yang qi is rising and there is a balance between yang and yin. Three yang lines and three yin broken lines. Notice yang ming contains more yang lines than tai yang. Yang ming is seen as a combining and closing of yang qi.

Shao yang  

Bo Hexagram, Xu branch, the ninth month

In the ninth month the yang qi is exhausted and the yin qi abounds.

The shao yang abounds. As for abounds, that is an external sign of the condition of the heart.

In shao yang the yang qi is being born again after it has been in storage for recovery in the winter. It is exhausted and goes into storage and it is reborn in spring.

Yang ming  

Gou Hexagram, Wu branch, the fifth month

The yang ming is wu. The fifth month is the yin of the abounding yang. When the yang weakens in the fifth month and when the first yin qi rises it starts to struggle with the yang. At this time the yang abounds and yin qi is added to it.

Yang Shangshan, The yang ming is the head of the three yang. Wu is the fifth month, that is the time when the yang abounds and when it is extensive and brilliant.

Wang Bing, The yang qi descends and the yin qi rises. Hence, the text states, the yang abounds and the yin qi is added to it.

Tai yang represents all the yang in the body. The yang channels come together on the surface in the upper back. Tai yang ensures that yang qi opens which supports function on the surface and in the interior. Yang ming represents this yang qi in the interior.

Tai yin  

Fu Hexagram, Zi branch, the eleventh month

The major yin is zi. In the eleventh month the qi of the myriad beings is all stored in the center.

Wu kun, In the eleventh month, the yin qi greatly abounds. Hence the text states tai yin.

Tai yin opens to receive the descending yang qi. It represents earth, and earth is a combination of soil and water. Remember the trigram of water contains a yang line which symbolizes that the original nature of water is yang. Trigram 6 - Water. 

Shao yin  

Kun Hexagram, Hai branch, the tenth month

The shao yin, that is the kidneys. In the tenth month all the yang qi of the myriad beings is harmed.

Ma Shi, The shao yin is the beginning yin. The tenth month is the second month of winter, it too, is shao yin.  

Yang qi has gone completely into storage in the winter. This is represented by all yin broken lines.

Plain Questions, The kidneys rule hibernation. They are the root of sealing and concealing, the dwelling place of essence.

The kidneys rule storage and concealment, thus they are the root of sealing up and concealing. They seal up and conceal the yang qi. They seal up and conceal the essence.

Plain Questions, Yin stores essence and is compounded into being, yang defends the exterior and acts to consolidate.

Jing is neither yin nor yang. Essence is yang qi in stored form. Or in other words, the stored form of energy is essence.

Jue yin  

Guai Hexagram, Chen branch, the third month

Ceasing yin is chen, the third month is the yin in the yang.

Zhong Zhicong, The third month is a time when yang abounds while jue yin rules the qi. Hence, this is yin in the yang.

Plain Questions, The liver is the root of dismissal of the ultimate, baiji, and the domain of the hun soul.

Jue yin is the root of the baiji, dismissal of the ultimate, and the bai ji brings about the transition from a state of storage to a state of rebirth. It re-initiates the entire cycle of birth, growth, harvesting, and storage.

Ba, means to cease or to end. Ji, means ultimate or extreme. The ultimate, ji, is the maximum or farthest point. The end of a traditional Chinese year, coinciding with the end of winter, is the most extreme point in that year, and corresponds with the chou period.

Plain Questions, The liver holds the office of general, planning and deliberation originate from it.

By getting rid of polarities, the liver also does away with conflicts and chaos. The general and the root of dismissal of the ultimate are referring to the same thing.

Bai hu tang

Bai hu tang

shi gao 48 zhi mu 18 geng mi 18 zhi gan cao 6

When in cold damage the pulse is floating and slippery, this means there is heat in the exterior and cold in interior, bai hu tang governs.

Bai hu jia ren shen tang

shi gao 48 zhi mu 18 geng mi 12 zhi gan cao 6 ren shen 9

When after taking gui zhi tang a great sweat has issued, there is great vexation and thirst, and the disease is unresolved and the pulse is surging and large, bai hu jia ren shen tang governs.

When tai yang is struck by heat, it is summer heat. When there is sweating and aversion to cold, with body heat and thirst, bai hu jia ren shen tang governs.

For thirst with a desire to drink, with a dry mouth and tongue, bai hu jia ren shen tang governs.

Bai hu tang and bai hu jia ren shen tang correspond with the west, autumn, yang ming and earth.

Yang ming represents dryness in the body. When pathological heat and dryness cause yang qi to rise the closing mechanism of yang ming fails. When yang ming fails to descend a separation of yang and yin can lead to death.

This line from the Shang Han Lun describes the start of the separation of yin and yang.

When in cold damage the pulse is floating and slippery, this means there is heat in the exterior and cold in interior, bai hu tang governs.

The heat in the exterior and cold in the interior is the separation and disease. Yang qi must be present on the surface to support function but not excessively. The interior must be warm for normal function, not cold.

The formula bai hu tang and bai hu jia ren shen tang are both used to treat a yang ming channel pattern and a summer heat pattern.

Yet there is a difference between a yang ming channel pattern and summer heat.

How can one formula treat two different patterns of disease?

By looking at the associated lines in the Shang Han Lun and Jin Gui Yao Lue we see the difference between the key symptoms clearly.

182 Question: What are the outward signs of yang ming disease? Answer: there is generalized heat effusion, spontaneous sweating and no aversion to cold, but aversion to heat.

In a yang ming channel pattern there is aversion to heat.

Chapter 2 Line 26 Tai yang disease with heat stroke is known as summer heat stroke. For sweating, aversion to cold, generalized heat, and thirst, bai hu jia ren shen tang is indicated.

In a summer heat pattern there is aversion to cold. 

This illustrates the difference between the two patterns.

In a summer heat pattern tai yang is damaged and yang fails to warm the surface giving rise to an aversion to cold.

In a yang ming channel pattern the heat effusion causes sweating. The excessive loss of fluids causes dryness, which gives rise to more heat. The dryness and heat prevent yang ming from making its physiological descent into the interior. This is dangerous and a high fever can cause death.

One formula to treat them both.

Cooling the heat and replacing the fluids is the key to treatment. Shi gao is pungent cold dispersing of heat. Zhi mu is cool nourishing of fluids. Geng mi replaces fluids of earth. Zhi gan cao is tonifying and nourishing of fluids in earth. The use of ren shen replaces fluids while raising the original qi and gathering qi.

In summer heat patterns earth becomes damp and cold. Which is why there are so many modern formulas that treat summer heat and the pivot of earth.


In herbal medicine we often talk about herbs that harmonize. Harmonize what? The key herb that harmonizes is zhi gan cao. You know, stir fried with honey Glycyrrhizae radix.

Zhi gan cao is often paired with other herbs like, da huang, gan jiang, gui zhi, or bai shao. Why is that?

Zhi gan cao is a sweet, mildly warm herb that nourishes and tonifies. It is an earth herb that nourishes fluids and tonifies function of the stomach and spleen. It tonifies the center.

Plain Questions, The Center generates Dampness, Dampness generates Earth, Earth generates Sweet, Sweet generates the spleen, the spleen generates the flesh.

It transforms, Earth corresponds with transformation and the sweet taste.

The last eighteen days of each season belongs to earth. This implies that without the earth to give birth to the myriad of things there would be death. This also implies that without earth the seasons could not transform from one to the next.  

Plain Questions, The spleen, does not have a season that it governs.

Plain Questions, The spleen is earth, it rules the central region, it holds fast to the four seasons, and extends to the four viscera. Eighteen days from each season are entrusted to it, but it does not have a season all its own.

Dong Zhongshu called the spleen, The lord of the five elements. It is the ruler because all the other elements cannot come into being without earth.

The spleen and earth makes the transition of yang and yin qi possible from season to season.

Because it is the ruler it corresponds to the element earth, and it is used for the same reason in herbal medicine.  

Sweet warm zhi gan cao is the herb that is the most representative for tonifying the earth. The sweet taste tonifies but also nourishes, it allows for the smooth transformation of qi.

Did you ever wonder why there is no zhi gan cao in the formula da chai hu tang?

Da chai hu tang

chai hu 24 huang qin 9 ban xia 12 sheng jiang 15 da zao 9 bai shao 9 zhi shi 6 da huang 6

It would hold back the needed descending action of the yang ming stomach family. After the stool has started to move and there is no more heat and vexation, naturally put it back in and remove the zhi zhi, and or the da huang.

Da huang, Rhei rhizoma

Cold bitter da huang belongs to the west, autumn, and dryness.

It strongly cools and descends the yang qi in the stomach domain. Which is why it is used in the Cheng qi family of formulas.

It is used when internal yang ming heat is so great that the normal cooling, drying, and descending function fails.

But there is another use of da huang that is not so well known. And that is in clearing evil qi from the channels.

By descending, cooling, and drying the stomach domain the channels are affected. Which is why da huang can cause problems if used improperly.

Plain Questions Chapter 5

The six channels are streams, the intestines and the stomach are the sea. The nine orifices are where the qi flows like water.

Zhang Jiebing suggests that the last sentence should be; The nine orifices are where water and qi flow.

All rivers flow into the seas.

By descending the yang ming the sea is drained and the channels which are rivers follow.

The most representative formula of this action is tao he cheng qi tang.

Tao he cheng qi tang

tao ren 9 da huang 12 gui zhi 6 mang xiao 6 zhi gan cao 6

When a tai yang disease is unresolved and heat binds in the bladder, the person is as if manic, and spontaneous blood descent will bring recovery. If the exterior has not been resolved, one should not yet attack, but should first resolve the exterior. When the exterior has been resolved and there is only tense bound lesser abdomen, one can attack and therefore tao he cheng qi tang is appropriate.

It treats blood build up in the lower abdomen which is caused by heat. There will be acute lower abdominal pain, incontinence of urine, night fevers, mental vexation, and thirst. The heat can arise from an external tai yang pattern that progresses to the interior and turns into heat. The heat can be in the lower abdomen, body, or bladder.

The internal heat build up in the lower abdomen is cleared by moving the blood with tao ren and gui zhi, and by draining the seas with da huang and mang xiao.

This is also being done in Feng yin tang.

Feng yin tang

da huang 9 gan jiang 9 long gu 9 gui zhi 6 zhi gan cao 3 mu li 3 han shui shi 12 hua shi 12 chi shi zhi 12 bai shi zhi 12 zi shi ying 12 shi gao 12

Chapter 5 Feng yin tang: for heat paralysis and epilepsy.

Feng yin tang eliminates heat that causes paralysis and seizures. It treats seizures due to major wind in adults, and in children treats convulsions or seizures due to fright, occurring multiple times a day, and medicine has not been able to treat, for it is a heat eliminating formula.

It clears excess heat and internal wind in acute patterns.

Da huang belongs to the west, autumn, and dryness. It also drains the seas to drain the rivers.