Understanding Xiao Yao San

Understanding Xiao Yao San

Xiao Yao San has been cherished for centuries for its remarkable ability to restore balance and alleviate a wide array of symptoms associated with emotional and physical disharmony.

Xiao Yao San is often used to address a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Hypochondriac pain
  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent sighing
  • Epigastric pain and distention
  • Fatigue
  • Anorexia
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Breast distention
  • Lassitude
  • Insomnia
  • Shoulder and back pain
  • Rib pain
  • Anxiety
  • Tightness or fullness in the chest
  • Cold extremities
  • Bloating and pain at the umbilicus and abdomen
  • Depression
  • Irritability

Understanding Xiao Yao San:

Xiao Yao San is a time-tested herbal formula that originated from the esteemed text Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Tai Ping Imperial Grace Formulary) during the Song Dynasty. It consists of a synergistic combination of herbs carefully selected to address Liver Qi stagnation with Blood Deficiency, a common pattern in TCM associated with stress, emotional imbalance, and menstrual irregularities.

The main functions of Xiao Yao San include:

1) Relieve Liver Qi
2) Move Qi
3) Tonify Spleen Qi
4) Nourish Blood
5) Harmonize Blood

Herbal ingredients: 

  • Chai Hu - S
  • Dang Gui - M
  • Bai Shao - M
  • Bai Zhu - A
  • Fu Ling - A 
  • Zhi Gan Cao - A
  • Pao Jiang - E
  • Bo He - E
*S - Sovereign (Jun)
*M - Minister (Chen)
*A - Assistant (Zuo)
*E - Envoy (Shi) 
➡️ Hierarchy of the herbs in the Formula

Herb Breakdown:

- Chai Hu break up Liver Qi stagnation

- Dang Gui tonifies Blood, harmonize Liver

- Bai Shao Yao harmonizes Liver and Stomach, tonifies Blood

- Bai Zhu tonifies Spleen, reduce dampness. 

- Fu Ling tonifies Spleen, moderates spasms. 

- Zhi Gan Cao tonifies Spleen and relieve spasms

- Pao Jiang warms Spleen, smoothes Liver Qi. 

- Bo He relieves Liver Qi stagnation

Modification - Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

In cases where there is Heat or Fire due to Liver Qi stagnation, Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is often prescribed. "Jia Wei" translates to "Added Flavor," indicating the addition of herbs to clear Heat and enhance the formula's effectiveness in cases of emotional agitation, anger, and symptoms of heat.

The addition of Mu Dan Pi (Moutan Root Bark) and Zhi Zi (Gardenia Seed) to Xiao Yao San creates Jia Wei Xiao Yao San.


Adding these two herbs provides additional benefits such as...

Clearing Heat:

Mu Dan Pi and Zhi Zi have cooling properties that help clear Heat from the Liver and reduce symptoms like irritability, thirst, and red complexion.

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San retains the fundamental actions of Xiao Yao San while addressing Heat-related symptoms, providing a comprehensive approach to restoring balance and harmony within the body.

Modern Research Perspective:

Recent studies have begun to shed light on the mechanisms of action and potential benefits of Xiao Yao San. A study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information explored the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of Xiao Yao San, highlighting its potential therapeutic value in the management of depression and anxiety-related disorders (source: PMC8556059). 

Xiao Yao San and its modified version, Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, stand as shining examples of the efficacy and adaptability of TCM herbal formulas. Whether addressing emotional imbalances, menstrual irregularities, or digestive issues, these formulas offer a holistic approach to wellness, promoting harmony within the body and mind.

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TCM Study Cards used in this post: 

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    *This post is for educational purposes only. 

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