Chinese Herbal Medicine (TCM)

Formulas that purge the bowels

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Formulas that purge the bowels


Cold herbs

Da Cheng Qi Tang strongly purges Heat accumulation, focal distension, abdominal fullness, dry hard stool


Da Cheng Qi Tang - Shang Han Lun

Da Huang (Radix and Rhizoma Rhei)6-12g [add near end]

Mang Xiao (Mirabilitum)9-12g [dissolve in strained decoction]

Zhi Shi (Fructus Immaturus Citri Aurantii)12-15g

Hou Po (Cortex Magnoliae Officinalis)12-24g

***Once diarrhea has been induced this formula should be discontinued.

Indications: severe constipation and gas, abdominal fullness and pain that dislikes pressure, abdomen feels tense and firm, T- dry yellow or dry black coat with prickles, P- submerged excessive, may be tidal fever, delirious talk, palms and soles sweating, Yangming Heat injuring the fluids. Is sometimes used to treat Wind stroke of closed type.


Xiao Cheng Qi Tang moderately purges Heat accumulation, abdominal pain that does not increase with pressure, focal distension, abdominal fullness, dry hard stool


Xiao Cheng Qi Tang

Da Huang (radix et rhizome rhei)12g

Hou Po (cortex magnoliae officinalis)6g

Zhi Shi (fructus immaturus citri aurantii)6-9g

Indications: constipation, focal distension, abdominal fullness and pain that does NOT increase with pressure, T- dry yellow coat, P- slippery rapid. Is also used for early stage dysenteric disorders.


Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang mildly purges Heat accumulation, no abdominal distension or fullness


Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Da Huang (radix et rhizome rhei)12g

Gan Cao (radix glycyrrhizae uralensis)6g

Mang Xiao (mirabilitum)9-12g

Indications: mild constipation without distension and abdominal fullness, irritability,

P- slippery rapid, nosebleed, swollen gums and throat, subcutaneous bleeding.



Warm herbs

Wen Pi Tang warm & tonifies Spleen Yang, purges Damp & Cold


Wen Pi Tang

Da Huang (radix et rhizome rhei)12g

Ren Shen (radix ginseng)6g

Gan Cao (radix glycyrrhizae uralensis)6g

Gan Jiang (rhizome zingiberis officinalis)6g

Fu Zi (radix lateralis aconite carmichaeli praeparata)9g

Indications: constipation, abdominal pain, cold extremities, P- submerged wiry. Primarily focuses on Spleen deficiency.


Da Huang Fu Zi Tang warms interior, disperse Cold & Damp, unblocks bowels, relieves pain


Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Fu Zi (radix lateralis aconite carmichaeli praeparata)6-12g

Da Huang (radix et rhizome rhei)9g

Xi Xin (herba asari cum radice)6g

Indications: abdominal pain, constipation, hypochondriac pain, chills, cold extremities, T- white greasy coat, P- submerged tight wiry.



Moistening herbs

Ma Zi Ren Wan moisten intestines, drain Heat, moves Qi, unblocks bowels


Ma Zi Ren Wan Shang Han Lun

Huo Ma Ren (semen cannabis sativae)500-600g

Xing Ren (semen pruni armeniacae)150-250g

Shao Yao (radix paeoniae)150-250g

Zhi Shi (fructus immaturus citri aurantii)150-250g

Hou Po (cortex magnoliae officinalis)150-250g

Da Huang (radix et rhizome rhei)300-500g

Indications: heat induced dryness in the stomach, constipation with hard stool that is difficult to pass, frequent urination, T- dry yellow coat, P- submerged rapid or floating choppy. The fluids which normally lubricate the bowels are passed into the urinary system. This is a modification of Xiao Cheng Qi Tang, it has a milder purging action.


Ji Chuan Jian warm Kidney, moisten intestines, unblocks bowels


Ji Chuan Jian Jing yue quan shu

Rou Cong Rong (herba cistanches)6-9g

Dang Gui (radix angelicae sinensis)9-15g

Niu Xi (radix achyranthis bidentatae)6g

Ze Xie (rhizome alismatis orientalis)4.5g

Zhi Ke [Qiao] (fructus citri seu ponciri)3g

Sheng Ma (rhizome cimicifugae)1.5-3g

Indications: constipation, copious clear urine, low back pain, cold back, fatigue, low libido, pale lustrous face, common in the elderly or after childbirth. This formula is focused more on tonifying to treat the problem, rather than only purging.



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Benskey & Gamble 1993, Chinese Herbal Medicine formulas and strategies, Seattle Washington, Eastland Press Inc.


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