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Minor Bupleurum

Xiao chai hu tang

Kan Traditionals

Harmonizes the Shao Yang, soothes the Liver, transforms Phlegm, supports the Correct (Zheng) Qi.

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Minor Bupleurum is a faithful rendition of Minor Bupleurum Decoction (Xiao Chai Hu Tang), a famous formula addressing Lesser Yang (Shao Yang) disharmony, which presents as a pattern that is half in the Interior and half in the Exterior, with alternating periods of Heat and Cold, and alternating excess and deficiency presentation. The Shao Yang level is the pivot between the Tai Yang level and the Yang Ming level, and its function is to direct the protective Yang Qi and the clear fluids upward and outward, and the turbid fluids downward.

There are three main patterns that Minor Bupleurum addresses. Firstly, it addresses a Cold invasion constraining the lesser Yang warp and impeding its ability to direct the clear fluids upward and the turbid downward. This pattern is seen as half in the Exterior and half in the Interior, representing the struggle between the invasion which is trying to push deeper into the Interior and the body’s Defensive (Wei) Qi, which is trying to push it out.

Secondly, it addresses constraint lodged in the Gallbladder channel, the organ that corresponds to the lesser Yang. It may manifest as fullness of the chest or hypochondriac region, or as neck stiffness. Digestive disharmonies may be felt if constrained Gallbladder Qi invades the Stomach. If it invades the Lungs, it can cause Lung disharmonies. If it blocks the distribution of fluids in the Triple Burner, it can inhibit urination and cause an accumulation of Phlegm.

Thirdly, as women are more prone to Blood deficiency following menstruation or childbirth, and when Wind Cold invades a woman that is Blood deficient, the invasion can penetrate the Blood chamber where it binds to the Blood, subsequently disrupting the Liver’s function of regulating the Blood, leading to Qi constraint with Heat.

Minor Bupleurum harmonizes the Shao Yang by unblocking the Qi dynamic to clear Heat due to constraint, dispelling invasion lodged in the Shao Yang and supporting healthy fluid metabolism. The chief herb, Bupleurum root is the most important herb for harmonizing the Shao Yang. Bupleurum root resolves Lesser Yang stage disharmonies, raises the clear Qi of the Stomach and Gallbladder, relieves Liver Qi constraint, raises and lifts Yang Qi, clears deficiency Heat and directs the formula to the Liver meridian. Bupleurum root supports the immune
system with its combination of supplementing and Heat clearing herbs. It is supported in its actions by Chinese skullcap root, an important herb in this formula for its ability to descend Liver Yang, and to augment and support the actions of Bupleurum root. Chinese skullcap root clears Damp Heat, drains Fire, dries Dampness in the Stomach or Intestines.Together they form a powerful combination to drain Heat without allowing it to sink deeper into the body.

Ginger cured Pinellia rhizome dries Spleen Dampness, transforms Phlegm and causes rebellious Qi to descend. Ginger rhizome warms the Middle and expels Cold, either externally contracted, or from deficiency due to insufficiency of Yang Qi, and dispels Wind and Damp, especially from the Lower Burner. Together these two herbs harmonize the Middle Burner, and direct rebellious Qi downward.

White Asian ginseng root and rhizome strongly tonifies the primal Qi of the five organs, nourishes the Yin, strengthens the Spleen, tonifies the Stomach, tonifies Lung Qi, generates fluids and benefits the Heart Qi. Red jujube fruit tonifies the Qi and Blood, tonifies Spleen Qi, moderates and harmonizes actions of the other herbs. Chinese licorice root and rhizome tonifies Spleen Qi, moistens the Lungs, clears Heat, resolves blazing Fire, moderates and harmonizes the actions of other herbs.

Minor Bupleurum Decoction (Xiao Chai Hu Tang) is a famous formula, first recorded in the classic herbal text Shang Han Lun, written by Dr. Zhang Zhong-Jing.