In the spirit of writing posts about teeny tiny formulas from the Shang Han Lun, I thought I’d share some writings about the use of Rou Gui as a single herb.  This herb will be discussed in detail as part of the class I am teaching on Shao Yin in women’s health at the IFS symposium this spring.

I was delighted when I found these writings on Rou Gui by the classic formula doctor Wu Peiheng.  I love his experiential formulas at the end of this piece:

The flavor is sweet and pungent, and the Qi is fragrant.  The character is warm.  Rou Gui enters the foot Jue Yin liver channel.  It warms the liver and heats the blood; breaks stasis and disperses hard lumps; expels damp and cold from the back and legs:  drives out abdominal and rib-side pain; strengthens the heart zang and warms and heats up cold damp in the blood level.  When deficiency fire floats upward, Rou Gui will induce it to return to the source.  For presentations of tooth pain, throat pain, pain at the center of the stomach or sudden cough, Rou Gui is quite useful.  Adding Jiang and Fu to Rou Gui greatly increases its strength.  This combination can snatch a person from the jaws of death.  For a person whose body is weak and deficient with Yang deficiency and kidney cold, Rou Gui can be steeped in boiled water.  Taken like this, it can prevent disease and prolong life.  By taking more, the benefits increase.  For Yin dryness presentations Rou Gui can also be given.  It generates fluids and moistens dryness.  Rou Gui is indescribably marvelous.

The liver is related to wood, and it stores the blood.  Blood presides over the wood Qi.  Its character is warm.   Warm Qi rises and balmy warmth unfolds and spreads. It accumulates and becomes the heat that transforms into heart fire.  With wood’s warmth, the Yang ascends by half.  With fire’s heat, Yang completely lifts.  When warm Qi is ample, the Yang flourishes and the person is healthy.  When warm Qi is feeble, Yin accumulates, and the person is ill.  The return of Yang causes life, and Yin accumulation causes death.

Life and death are not the same in terms of good and evil.  Yang and Yin have their own value regarding eminence and humility.  Even a wriggling insect knows about the preference for life over death, yet the ordinary person does not understand the values of Yang in relation to Yin.  It is an eternal misfortune that there are age-old schools of thought that value Yin over Yang.

If you wish to generate life, you must return the Yang.  The returning the Yang method goes to the center of the Qi and blood, fostering the root of the body. If the Yang root is feeble, the children; water and wood, will be insufficient with nothing leftover.

(These are the words of Huang Yuanyu 黄元御)

When the liver and spleen rise up comfortably, the warm Qi reaches ascension and transforms into Yang spirit.  Yang spirit is the commander and the Yin evil then has no power.  This is the Tao of preventing disease and prolonging life.

With the above in mind, Rou Gui can warm the liver and heat the blood: strengthen the heart and fortify the spleen.  It can treat disease presentations in women such as irregular menstruation, abdominal and back pain during menstruation, flooding and trickling, leucorrhea, pain in the center of the abdomen and postpartum deficiency cold.  It is effective for all sorts of deficiency-cold presentations.

An Rou Gui is a tropical plant.  It is produced in Vietnam as well as in Guanxi on the mainland of China.  It is pungent, hot and sweet.  It contains a beneficial oil. (high grade is better but regular is also good).  When a weak woman is pregnant, and the fetal Qi is insufficient, she will show symptoms such as poor appetite and low spirit.  Alternatively, she may have symptoms such as chest or stomach pain with vomiting. In this case, taking the three flavors, Gui, Fu and Jiang, will not only NOT harm the fetus, but, on the contrary, they will strongly calm the fetus.  These are supremely miraculous medicinals.

Gui, Jiang, and Fu are contraindicated in warm disease, summer heat disease, and Yang Ming heat dryness presentations.

The Rou Gui bark is thick and oily. It’s character and flavor are also thick.  It guards and does not leave.  It focuses on cold of the heart, liver, spleen, and blood level.  It dispels stasis and generates the new.  When taking it, one should just soak it in water.  It should not be boiled.  If it is boiled, the Qi vapor and oily substance volatilize and lose their effectiveness.   Gui Zi’s strength to subdue cold Qi is less than Rou Gui’s, but you can replace Rou Gui with it.  On the other hand, you cannot replace Rou Gui with Gui Zhi tips.   There is a red kind from Yunan, Yuanyang district now that is a sticky Gui.  Although it is pungent and hot and has a warm character, after it is put in water, the sticky glue congeals into a ball and this blocks the stomach and intestines.  It is not easy to digest.  It makes the chest and stomach stuffy, cold, distended and uncomfortable.  I’ve repeatedly tested this and find it to be unsuitable to use.

  1. For summertime mushroom poisening with vomiting and diarrhea, 2,3 or 5 qian of Rou Gui can be taken. Grind it into a fine powder and mix with water and there will be resolution.
  2. For cholera, either true or false, with lots of vomiting and diarrhea and abdominal pain in which the medicine has not been given in time, urgently give 3 or 5 qian of Rou Gui. Grind it into a fine powder and mix with water. The results can be very good.  There is benefit without damage.  Then send for the doctor for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a first aide method.
  3. If one has come in contact with a lot of inclement weather so that the resistance is weakened. This will often cause an acute cold presentation. If medicinals are not conveniently available, 1, 2, 3, up to 5 qian of  Rou Gui can be taken until you can get medicine.  Grind it into a fine powder and mix with water and there will be an immediate effect as desired.
  4. If you are going to high mountains, the frequent eating of Rou Gui powdered or put in water can ward off “miasma” or gastroenteristis with vomiting and diarrhea.
  5. If you are riding in an airplane and get dizziness with nausea and vomiting, eat 5 fen to 1 qian of Rou Gui powder. It will help immediately. If you are going a long way on foot, keep a bit of Rou Gui in your mouth.  It can generate fluids and keep you from panting.  It can also ward off thirst while you are journeying.
  6. If you’ve taken Fu Zi Pian that has been undercooked and you develop numbness poisoning or restlessness, immediately take 3 or 5 qian of Rou Gui mixed with water. If it is mild it will resolve. If it is serious, it will gradually resolve.  (By all means do not use a cold water stomach lavage.  This can cause death.  I have seen and heard of many cases like this.  You will be fortunate if you pay attention to this.)
  7. If there is a stroke without speech and medicines cannot be given in a timely way, feed the person 3-4 qian of good Rou Gui in water. Immediately there will be an effect. If they vomit clear spittle, all the better.  It is temporary urgent care.  It strengthens the heart and transforms phlegm.
  8. When there is a white moist tongue moss and lack of thirst with tooth pain, throat pain, pain at the center of the stomach or nausea with vomiting, it is good to give 2 or 3 qian of Rou Gui mixed with water. It is effective.

As for formulas that include Rou Gui:

1. Gui Fu Tang

Fu Pian 2 liang cooked well ahead of time, Rou Gui 3 qian, ground into a fine powder and infused in water.

This formula uses Fu Zi to warm the cold of the kidney water.  Rou Gui warms the liver wood constraint, strengthens the heart and warms the cold within the blood.  Taking this makes water rise and fire descend.  Water and fire come into right-relationship (Ji Ji 既济) to connect the heart and kidney.  The soul becomes tranquil.  It is quite effective for heart Zang illness with palpitations, fright and insomnia.  It is often given to weak people to prevent illness and prolong life.

2. Kan Li Dan 坎离丹

Fu Pian 2 liang cooked well ahead of time, Rou Gui 5 qian, ground into a fine powder and infused in water.

Ge Fen 4 qian (powdered clam shell)
Zhi Gan Cao 3 qian
Gui Yuan Rou 8 qian (桂元肉 is Long Yan Rou)
Sheng Jiang 8 qian

This formula treats heart illness with restlessness.  The result is excellent.

3. Da Hui Yang Yin

Fu Pian  2 liang
Gan Jiang  1 liang
Rou Gui  4 qian
Zhi Gan Cao  3 qian

This formula is able to return the Yang and rescue rebellion.  It strengthens the heart, consolidates the kidneys, warms the middle and smooths the liver.  It can treat any critical condition in which Yang is deficient and Yin has accumulated.  It can snatch a patient from the jaws of death.  As for ordinary, weak patients with Yang deficiency without spirit, I often give several packages.  It is easy to have this person return to health.  They get a new lease on life.  It prevents illness and prolongs life.

4. Gui Fu Li Zhong Tang

Ren Shen 3 qian to 1 or 2 liang (one can replace with Dang Shen)
Gan Jiang 1 to 2 liang
Bai Zhu 5 qian to 1 liang
Gan Cao 3-5 qian
Fu Pian 2-4 liang
Rou Gui  3-5 qian

This formula greatly supplements pre-heaven heart and kidney along with post-heaven spleen and kidney Yang.  It treats gastrointestinal illness such as chronic diarrhea and indigestion.  It is very effective.

5. Yang Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Shu Di  1 liang
Fu Ling  5 qian
Zao Pi  3 qian
Huai Shan Yao  5 qian
Fen Dan  3 qian
Ze Xie  3 qian
Fu Pian  2 liang
Rou Gui  4 qian

This formula treats dual deficiency of the Yin and Yang of the kidneys.  It should be avoided for wind cold or for patterns in which there is Yin accumulation with Yang depletion.  If too much is taken, it can cause swelling, distention and collapse.