Herb Formulas Notebook

Ma Huang Fu Zi Gan Cao Tang

Ephedra, Aconite and Licorice Decoction

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Source: Discussion of Cold Damage (c. 220)
Author: Zhang Ji / Zhong-Jing

Category: Formulas that Release the Exterior

Pattern: Mild Exterior Cold invasion or oedema with pre-existing Yang deficiency

Key Symptoms: Slight fever and chills that is not relieved by wearing more clothing or adding covers or mild oedema with shortness of breath and urinary difficulty, exhaustion with an almost constant desire to sleep

Pulse: Submerged and faint

Ma Huang 6g
Zhi Fu Zi 9g
Gan Cao 6g

In the UK almost this entire formula needs to be substituted, Ma Huang being strictly limited, Fu Zi being banned and Xi Xin being available but voluntarily banned by the RCHM. Some substitution suggestions include:
Ma Huang == 1.8g Ma Huang + Jing Jie + Fang Feng + Zi Su Ye
Fu Zi == Gan Jiang + Rou Gui
The dosage restrictions on Ma Haung also mean it should be taken in three 0,6g doses per day.

Preparation: Originally Ma Huang is decocted in 10 cups of water until 8 remain, the froth removed and the other ingredients added until 3 cups remain. The strained decoction is then taken in 3 doses over the course of a day. At present Fu Zi is cooked first for 30-60 minutes until there is no numbing of the tongue upon tasting and then the other ingredients are added to the decoction.

Actions: Assists the Yang, releases the Exterior

Contraindications: Only for use in mild Yang deficiency. Where it is severe and there is undigested food in the stool and the pulse is almost imperceptible it could devastate the Yang.

Research Links:
Science Direct
Google Scholar
Journal of Chinese Medicine
American Dragon

Reference Notes: (click to display)

These pages are intended to assist clinicians and are not intended for self-diagnosis or treatment for which a qualified professional should be consulted.