Herb Formulas Notebook

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Lesser Bupleurum Decoction

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

Category: Formulas that Harmonise

Pattern: Cold pathogen constraining the Shoayang, Shaoyang disharmony, Shaoyang type disharmony of Yang Wei Mai

Key Symptoms: Bitter taste in the mouth, dry throat, dizziness, blurred vision, alternating chills and fever, nausea and vomiting, pain and distention in the flanks, irritability and restlessness
Secondary Symptoms: Fever of unknown origin, abdominal pain, feeling downcast, frequent sighing or difficulty taking breaths, reduced intake of food or drink, disinterest in food, dry retching, tinntus, thirst, focal distention in the epigastrium, heartburn, palpitations, coughing, urinary dysfunction, constipation

Tongue: Thin, white or greasy coating
Pulse: Wiry
Abdomen: Tension in the hypochondrium (especially on left), discomfort or focal distention in the epigastrium

Chai Hu 12-24g
Huang Qin 9g
Zhi Ban Xia 9g
Ren Shen 6-9g
Zhi Gan Cao 5-9g
Sheng Jiang 6sl
Da Zao 4pc

Preparation: Decoction.

Actions: Harmonises Shaoyang, supports normal Qi, dispels pathogens

Contraindications: Excess above and deficiency below, Liver Fire, or bleeding of the gums. Use with caution in ascendant Liver Yang, hypertension, or vomiting of blood due to Yin deficiency

Can be used for a variety of 'strange disorders' that manifest in unusual symptoms or presentations that are difficult to match to common patterns, hence the enormous number potential secondary symptoms. Often these are nervous or emotional disorders. Providing at least one of the key symptoms of bitter taste in the mouth, dry throat, dizziness or distorted vision are present it indicates a Shaoyang disharmony and Xiao Chai Hu Tang can be used.


Extraordinary Vessel attributions come from Li Shi-Zhen's (1577-8) Exposition on the Eight Extraordinary Vessels (Qi Jing Ba Mai Kao), trans. Chace & Shima (2009).


Ploberger (2017), in Westliche und traditionell chinesische Heilkräuter, offers the following alternative using western herbs:

Herba Millefolii(Yarrow)3g(Emperor)
Herba Alchemillae(Lady's Mantle)3g(Minister)
Fructus Juniperi (Juniper berries)4g(Minister)
Fructus Carvi (Caraway seed)2g(Assistant)
Herba Menthae (Peppermint)5g(Assistant)
Pericarpium Citri ret.(Orange peel)3g(Assistant)
Rhizoma Zingiberis recens(Fresh Ginger)1g(Assistant)
Radix Ginseng(Ginseng root)3g(Assistant)
Radix Glycyrrhizae(Licorice root)3g(Assistant)

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.