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Free and Easy Wanderer

Xiao yao san

Kan Traditionals

Spreads the Liver Qi and resolves stagnation, nourishes Blood, harmonizes the Liver and Spleen, tonifies Spleen and Stomach and regulates Shao Yang patterns.

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The descriptive name of Free and Easy Wanderer (Xiao Yao San), also called Rambling Powder, evokes a Taoist philosophical ideal and was drawn from a chapter title, Rambling Without a Destination, from the ancient text Zhuangzi, which contains stories of soaring freely above a limited world view. It also aptly describes the concept of how Liver Qi should ideally circulate and flow freely in the body, fostering a mental openness.

Free and Easy Wanderer is a cornerstone formula that regulates and harmonizes the Liver and Spleen. Disharmony between the Liver and Spleen may arise from either the constraint of Liver Qi, often brought on by lifestyle and habitual emotional factors, which overact upon theSpleen and Stomach, or from a deficiency of Spleen Qi in which the transporting function has been impaired, eventually causing the Liver to overact on the Spleen.

A variation of Frigid Extremities Powder (Si Ni San), which frees Yang Qi constrained in the Interior, Free and Easy Wanderer is a famous formula to spread Liver Qi, strengthen the Spleen and nourish Blood. Designed to restore equilibrium between the Liver and Spleen, the Constructive (Ying) and Defensive (Wei) Qi, its mastery lies in the elegant combination of antagonistic yet harmonious ingredients: warm and cool, sour and sweet, bitter, pungent and supplementing. Because Liver and Spleen imbalances are so often at the root of menstrual irregularities, especially with an emotional component, formulas such as Free and Easy Wanderer are indispensable to support gynecological health. Free and Easy Wanderer regulates the Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) meridians (Triple Burner and Gallbladder), supports immunity and addresses Liver Qi stagnation. Finally, it is well known for its effectiveness in addressing occasional emotional/psychological imbalances related to the Ethereal Soul (Hun). Since the pattern of Liver Qi stagnation, combined with Liver Blood and Spleen Qi deficiency, is such a common mix, especially in women, Free and Easy Wanderer is not only one of the most popular of all Chinese herbal formulas, but a cherished formula for women’s health.

The emperor herb, Bupleurum root, strongly moves Liver Qi and releases constraint. Its deputies, Dong quai root and White peony root nourish Blood, soften and moisten the Liver. White atractylodes rhizome and Poria strengthen the Spleen’s transforming and transporting functions, eliminating the development of further Qi constraint and addressing Blood deficiency. Chinese licorice root and rhizome tonifies Spleen Qi. White peony root nourishes the Blood and preserves Yin while soothing the Liver by calming rising Liver Yang. Ginger rhizome harmonizes the Stomach, thereby preventing rebellious Qi. Chinese mint herb supports the emperor herb, Bupleurum root, in relieving Liver Qi stagnation by cooling and dispersing the Heat that may have been engendered due to that constraint.

Free and Easy Wanderer was originally recorded by Dr. Chen Shi-Wen in his Song Dynasty Professional and Popular Formulas from the Taiping Era in 1151 A.D. Scholars say that Free and Easy Wanderer is actually a Song Dynasty version of Zhang Zhong-Jing’s Four Contrary Powder (Si Ni San), which is found in his famous Discussion of Cold-induced Disharmonies (220 A.D.).