Xiao Yao San
Harmonizes and soothes Liver Qi, unlocks stagnant Qi, nourishes and moves the Blood, supports the Spleen and Stomach, clears Heat.
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- Herb: Dong quai root, White peony root, White atractylodes rhizome, Poria, Bupleurum root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, Chinese mint herb, Chinese licorice root and rhizome, Tree peony root bark, Gardenia fruit, Gastrodia rhizome, Prepared cyperus rhizome , Ginger rhizome
- Herb (Pinyin): Dang gui shen, Bai shao, Bai zhu, Fu ling, Chai hu, Chuan xiong, Bo he, Gan cao, Mu dan pi, Zhi zi, Tian ma, Zhi xiang fu, Gan jiang
- Pattern: Liver Qi stagnation, stagnant Liver Qi invading the Spleen-Stomach
- Actions: Clear Heat, Nourish and Regulate Blood, Regulate Liver Qi, Tonify Stomach and Spleen Qi
- Indications: Supports emotional wellbeing, Supports healthy menstruation, Fatigue, lethargy., Occasional loose stools, Occasional headache, Occasional agitation, dominance aggression., edginess or anxiety, Occasional breast or flank distension, Supports smooth Blood flow, Promotes healthy digestion, gas, distension or bloating
- Tongue: Normal or purple, but not contraindicated if red or pale.
- Pulse: Wiry, or wiry and empty.
This is the perfect formula for people who have the capacity for benevolence, virtuousness and love of life, but seem to keep walking into walls on a physical, behavioral, emotional, mental or spiritual level. Relaxed Wanderer is designed for people whose issues in terms of health relate to the Wood element. When the Qi and Blood aren’t flowing smoothly, or when one misses the whole picture and gets stuck on minor details, this is the appropriate energy corrector.
Relaxed Wanderer enhances the natural capacities of a “woody” person to be a good decision maker and leader, and diminishes the tendency of those ruled by this element to be violent, rude, haughty, stubborn and inconsiderate of themselves or others. This is the traditional Chinese herbal response to overly rigid energy. The basic quality or “style of government” of the Wood element is relaxed; it needs to be both crooked and straight. Relaxed Wanderer helps to foster an ambiance of gentle, smooth and soothing activity within the arena of human life.
Relaxed Wanderer is used primarily to soothe an overly rigid Liver, and secondarily to nourish a weakened Stomach and Spleen. Because of the combination of ingredients, it can be used for digestive disharmonies which are due to the stagnation of Liver-Wood energy. It is appropriate for occasional headache, dizziness, flank stagnation or tiredness, signs that the Wood element is moving in the wrong direction or is overly stiff. It also helps to smooth occasional edginess, agitation or anxiety.
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND TRANSFORMATIONAL INDICATIONS
Relaxed Wanderer also activates the “smoothing” and “soothing” abilities of the Liver’s energy on more subtle levels. Psychologically, it can be used to decrease feelings of separation from the environment, as well as to enhance one’s ability to see clear pathways through situations. Relaxed Wanderer is the traditional formula used whenever there is a hindrance to the smooth flow of energy and blood, resulting in their inappropriate accumulation. It can address this traffic jam – acting within the meridians, digestive tract or reproductive organs, and manifesting in day-to-day life encounters with friends and family, perceptions of work situations or just in being with oneself.
ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT
Relaxed Wanderer (Xiao Yao San) is based on Dr. Chen Shi-Wen’s “Free and Easy Wanderer,” which was recorded in his Song Dynasty Professional and Popular Formulas from the Taiping Era in 1151 A.D.
While Relaxed Wanderer is fundamentally akin to the “Free and Easy Wanderer,” it also has a relationship to earlier and later developments in Chinese herbal history. Scholars say that “Free and Easy Wanderer” is actually a Song Dynasty version of Zhang Zhong-Jing’s “Four Contrary Power” (Si Ni San), which is found in his famous Discussion of Cold-induced Disharmonies (220 A.D.). We adopted the idea of using Sichuan lovage rhizome and prepared Cyperus rhizome for this kind of Liver configuration from the famous Ming Dynasty scholar, Zhang Jie-Bin. We also thought that adding Tree peony root bark and Gardenia fruit, the idea of another Ming scholar, Xue Ji, was harmonious with our purposes. Finally, we added a small amount of Gastrodia rhizome to address the edginess that is so common in individuals with Liver stagnation patterns, and to also clear Heat.
ABOUT THE HERBS
Dong quai root moistens the Liver’s Wood and tonifies the Blood. It softens rigidity and helps a person connect to the flowing aspect of life’s energy. It also regulates women’s reproductive system, thereby contributing to making this an important gynecological formula. It is sweet, acrid, bitter and warm, and enters the Liver, Heart and Spleen meridians.
White peony root moistens and smoothes, as well as calms the Liver and nourishes the Blood. It soothes irregularity in the Liver and is also important as a women’s herb. White peony root also makes flying-off-the-handle type energy more stable and over-rigidity more fluid. It is bitter and slightly cold, and enters the Liver meridian.
White atractylodes rhizome strengthens the Spleen and supports a healthy digestive system, makes the Qi stronger, moves any stagnation in digestion, eliminates Dampness, improves appetite and generally helps to put things in their proper place. It is sweet, bitter and warm, and enters the Spleen and Stomach meridians.
Poria strengthens the Spleen, eliminates Dampness and strengthens the mental and psychic functions of thought, clarity and direction. It is sweet and gentle, and enters the Heart, Lung, Spleen, Stomach and Kidney meridians.
Bupleurum root makes the Liver’s energy smooth. It clears the Liver and harmonizes and reduces Heat. It is indicated whenever the Liver is constrained and has blocked energy. It is bitter and slightly cold, and enters the Liver, Pericardium, Gallbladder and Triple Burner meridians.
Sichuan lovage rhizome moves the Blood, expels Wind and relieves stagnation. It is acrid and warm, and enters the Liver, Gallbladder and Pericardium meridians.
Chinese mint herb is used to open Liver congestion and relieve feelings of pressure. It is acrid and cool, and enters the Lung and Liver meridians.
Chinese licorice root and rhizome is used to harmonize the flavors and aid in absorption, tonify the Middle and purge Heat. It is sweet, bland and gentle, and enters all twelve meridians.
Tree peony root bark cools Blood Heat, cools Liver Fire and moves the Blood. It helps relieve the sense of explosiveness often found in stagnant Liver patterns. Dr. Xue added this herb to the formula to allow for Liver patterns with aspects of Heat. It is acrid, bitter and slightly cold, and enters the Heart, Liver and Kidney meridians.
Gardenia fruit is used for clearing Heat and calming the Spirit (Shen). It also eliminates occasional irritability while promoting a sense of contentment. It is bitter and cold, and enters the Liver, Heart, Lung and Spleen meridians.
Gastrodia rhizome calms the Liver, reduces its excesses and expels Wind. It adds a sense of softness to perceived boundaries, and is often used for occasional dizziness and spasms. It is sweet and slightly warm, and enters the Liver meridian.
Prepared Cyperus rhizome moves Qi and is a valuable agent in addressing digestive, gynecological and emotional stagnation. It is pungent, slightly bitter, sweet and neutral, and enters the Liver and Triple Burner meridians.
Ginger rhizome is used to protect digestion. It is acrid and warm, and enters the Lung, Spleen and Stomach meridians.