I’ve posted a lot about Teeny Tiny formulas.  These are formulas that are made up of two herbs such as Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang or Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang.  I love teeny tiny formulas because, they are always building blocks for other formulas. For example, Gua Lou Mu Li Tang is a teeny tiny formula in its own right but it is also in Chai Hu Gui Zhi Gan Jiang Tang.  When you understand them, you can see why it is important that Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang is found in Xiao Jian Zhong Tang.  Knowing about Gua Lou Mu Li Tang or  Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang tells you something about why it is in these larger formulas.  It informs your understanding of the larger formulas.

There are Teeny Tiny formulas and THEN there are the Teensy Weensy formulas.  These are formulas that maybe should not even be considered formulas since they are made up of just one herb.  There are a bunch of examples of this in the Shang Han Lun but today I want to share a favorite, which is Gan Cao Tang.  This is made up of the single ingredient of unprocessed Gan Cao.  It should not be confused with Zhi Gan Cao Tang which is Prepared Licorice Decoction and is made up of many herbs.  If most people were like me, then most people did not even know that there is a formula in the Shang Han Lun called Gan Cao Tang.

Below is the original clause about Gan Cao Tang and a wonderful case.  Anyone who knows me will see that, one reason I love this case is that I am a mycophile myself and spend hours and days every summer and autumn foraging for wild mushrooms on horseback.  P. S.  Which of the mushrooms pictured here is poisonous and which is edible?

Gan Cao Tang

Gan Cao      2 Liang      6 gm

Original Text:

Shang Han Lun clause 311: A Shao Yin pattern has lasted 2-3 days.  There is a painful throat.  Gan Cao Tang can be given.  If it does not resolve, give Jie Geng Tang.

Case 1: Poisoning by a Poisonous Mushroom

Dr. Pan Wen-Zhao  潘文昭

Mr. Su was age 42 and come to see me April, 2, 1972 in the evening at about 9:00.  He had cooked and eaten about 250 gm of wild mushroom that he had picked on a mountain top.  Five hours later, he developed abdominal pain with nausea and dizziness.  He was sweating, vomiting and his whole body felt weak.  Two hours after this came on, he came for a consultation.  I gave him 1500 gm of Gan Cao in a concentrated liquid.

10 minutes after the first time he took this, he vomited once, 30 minutes later he took the herbs the second time.  In two hours the abdominal pain and nausea diminished but he still had no strength in his body and was dizzy.  Four hours later he had rotten yellowish-brown diarrhea one time.  He then took the remaining liquid which was 100 millilters.  Six hours later, all of the symptoms were completely gone and there was a complete cure.  There was no other method applied during the whole courses of treatment.

新中医1978: 1: 36

Discussion:  The Ben Jing says that Gan Cao “resolves toxins.”  The Ming Yi Bei Lu says that Gan Cao “resolves 100 toxins of medicinals.”  This case illustrates the ability of Gan Cao to resolve toxins.  This is truly not spoken rashly!