TCM Schools of Thought | Acupuncture CEU Course

TCM The Classical Formulas

A one hour CEU Video course. The essence of TCM lies in the methodical and tight integration of herbs combined into a prescriptive formulation. This class presents a framework for constructing herbal formulas as expressed through the Shang Han Za Bing Lun and other classical texts throughout the historical development of Chinese Medicine. 10 of the most popular formulas used today are discussed in depth.

Upon completion of this class, the TCM practitioner will gain insight into how the classical formulas have been refined and developed into their contemporary application. Knowing a formula well can help a TCM physician utilize it in a broader and more innovative way that is very relevant today in our clinical practices.

With: Dr. Daoshing Ni, co-founder of Yo San University
1 ½ NCCAOM PDA Points / 1 ½ CAB Unit   
$15      Includes .pdf notes, online quiz and certificate of completion (free to watch this video)

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Course Outline:

  1. The earliest documentation of herbal formulation – Jing Fang
  2. Overview of Han Dynasty
  3. Book of Han Discussion of Jing Fang
  4. The First “Comprehensive” Herbal Formula Book – Shang Han Za Bing Lun
  5. Jin Kui Yao Lue
  6. Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang
  7. Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies
  8. Prescriptions Worth a Thousand in Gold for Every Emergency
  9. Wai Tai Bi Yao
  10. He Ji Ju Fang
  11. 1911 AD and onward
  12. Outside of China
  13. 10 Most Popular Formulas Used Today
  14. Why learn and collect formularies?

Acupuncture CEU Online Course:

Series: Overview of TCM Classics and Doctrines

Author: Dr. Daoshing Ni, Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Class: Jing Fang Xue Pai
(Classical or Experiential) Formulary Doctrine

The earliest documentation of herbal formulation – Jing Fang 经方

Herbal Formulary was first described in “The Book of Han 汉书” written by Ban Gu 班固.

It is a historical documentation of West Han Dynasty from 202 BC to 23 AD.

Han Dynasty is consisted of two main separate dynasties of West Han and East Han dynasties lasting 422 years from 202 BC to 220 AD.

Overview of Han Dynasty 汉朝

Stability of 422 years after many years of warlording during Spring-Autumn and Warring States periods of the Zhou Dynasty as well as the brutal unification of the entire China in the Qin Dynasty.

Stability improves the documentation and advancement of medicine where we see the creation of TCM classics such as Shang Han Za Bing Lun, and others, unfortunately lost.

Book of Han Discussion of Jing Fang

It states,

“There are 11 formulary books spanning 274 chapters”,

“Formulary, originates from cold and warmth of herbs, detecting the severity of the disease, borrow the nourishing effect of the herbs, sensing the Qi, differentiate tastes, to cause the alignment of Water and Fire, to relieve bowel and stasis, to bring back to balance.”

The Loss of Jing Fang Books

Unfortunately most of these 11 publications have been lost through time.

The only ones with collections of formulations around that time that has been able to be passed down in Shang Han Za Bing Lun.

There is a theory that the herbal formulations in these 11 publications were primitive and not as effective, hence of the reason for their disappearance.

What is Jing Fang 经方?
The Earliest First Definition

These are mostly combination of herbs, mostly two or more herbs in one formula.

They are known combinations that are used to treat diseases.

Therefore Jing Fang is defined as ”experiential formula” in the Book of Han.

Even though this was defined, the Book of Han did not provide the actual formulations themselves.

The First “Comprehensive” Herbal Formula Book – Shang Han Za Bing Lun 伤寒杂病论

There are other formula books before Shang Han Lun

Mostly lost

Mostly lack of etio-pathology framework

Mostly primitive and the use is poorly documented

Shang Han Za Bing Lun is a combination of two books written by Dr. Zhang, Zhong Jing 张仲景 – Shang Han Lun 伤寒论 and Jin Gui Yao Lue 金匮要略.

Shang Han Lun – The Discussion of Cold-Injury Diseases is a book demonstrating herbal therapy via the Six-Channel Differentiation (SCD). It has listed around 112 formulas.

Jin Gui Yao Lue – Essentials from the Golden Cabinet is a book that focused on herbal therapies for conditions that are “miscellaneous” or other than diseases caused by Cold-Injury. It has listed 262 formulas.

Shang Han Za Bing Lun 伤寒杂病论
It is a Classic!

They are the first comprehensive herbal therapy publications that have clearly defined diagnostic stages.

Therefore they are considered to be Classics. They are the Classics of Formulary Doctrine.

Therefore Dr Zhang, Zhong Jing is revered as the Saint or the Father of TCM today and both of his books are now considered the Classics of TCM in etiology, pathology, and herbal therapies.

Lost for a Time!

Due to subsequent wartime after the Han Dynasty, these two publications were lost.

During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), there was a rise of feverish interests in studying the Shang Han Lun and Jin Gui Yao Lue due to the re-discovery of these two books.

Because of the interests, and the importance of these two publications, there are numerous editions and interpretations.

Second Definition of Jing Fang 经方

The use of these formulations are wide spread and generally accepted. These formulations therefore become the new definition of Jing Fang.

Therefore the study of these ”Classical” formulations and its variants becomes the focus for Jing Fang or Formulary Doctrine.

In further delineation,

Formulas from Shang Han Za Bing Lun are Jing Fang 经方 (Classical Formulas)

Formulas published after Shang Han Za Bing Lun are considered to be Shi Fang 时方 (Contemporary Formulas)

Summary – Jing Fang Doctrine 经方
Two Definitions

First Definition

Jing – Jing Yan 经验 or experience

Fang – Fang Yao 方药 or herbal formulation

Jing Fang – Experiential Formulations

The Study of any published or nonpublished herbal formula that has shown efficacy.

Second Definition

Jing – Jing Lun 经论 or Classical Discussion

Fang – Fang Yao 方药 or herbal formulation

Jing Fang – Classical Formulations

The Study of any formulas from Shang Han Za Bing Lun and its variants

Two Main Types of Published Herbal Formulations

Direct Type – experiential formulation written by the authors of the formulations themselves, i.e. Shang Han Za Bing Lun 伤寒杂病论 written by Zhang, Zhong Jing 张仲景

Indirect Type – compilation of other physician’s formulations which includes government sanctioned and private funded publications, i.e. Wai Tai Bi Yao – Medical Secrets of An Official 外台秘要 written by Wang, Tao 王燾

Three Classifications of Formulations Based on Time

Jing Fang 经方 – Classical Formulations

Shi Fang 时方 – Contemporary Formulations

Jin Fang 今方 – Modern Formulations

Shang Han Lun 伤寒论

Discussion of Injury by Cold

Describe herbal treatments for exogenous diseases. It is the first book that describes treatments for infectious diseases.

Description of Chapters

It contains 112 herbal formulas

Jin Kui Yao Lue 金匮要略

“Synopsis of Golden Chamber” or “Medical Treasures of the Golden Chamber” or Essential Strategies of the Golden Box”

Describes herbal treatments for internal medicine, gynecology, obstetrics and pediatrics. It is the first book that describes treatments for non-infectious miscellaneous diseases.

Sections, 25 chapters. Chapter 1 is on TCM fundamentals. Chapter 2 to 19 are internal medicine, Chapters 20, 21, 22 are women’s health issues, Chapter 23 is miscellaneous diseases, Chapter 24 and 25 are nutritional guidance.

It contains 262 herbal formulas.

Publications After Han Dynasty (Shang Han Za Bing Lun)

Six Dynasty (220-589 AD) – 150+ publications

Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) – 150+ publications

Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) – 250+ publications

Compilation publications – 69+ publications.

Various authors

Publications Before and During Tang Dynasties (618-907 AD)

Wu Shi Er Bing Fang 五十二病方 (Time, 280 formulas)

Huang Di Nei Jing 黄帝内经 (Time, 12 formulas)

Shang Han Za Bing Lun 伤寒杂病论 (Time)

Shang Han Lun 伤寒论 (113 formulas)

Jin Kui Yao Lue 金匮要略 (262 formulas)

Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang 肘后备急方 (Time, 101 formulas)

Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang 备急千金要方,Qian Jin Yi Fang 千金翼方 (Time, 5300 formulas)

Wai Tai Bi Yao 外台秘要 (Time, 6000 formulas)

Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang

Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies

101 formulations, mostly singular, two and three herbs

Written around 341 AD by Ge, Hong 葛洪

8 sections, 72 chapters. The current edition has been revised by Tao, Yin Ju 陶隐居. Most of the herbal formulations have been used in agriculture community where people are poverty driven. The herbs are cheap, easy to obtain and quite effective. This book also described the pathology of small pox and TB. It also discussed about how these diseases can be contagious.

Example: Cong Chi Tang 葱豉汤 = Cong Bai + Xiang Chi for the treatment of exogenous common cold

Ge Hong 葛洪
Taoist Name: Bao Pu Zi 抱朴子

Ge Hong (283-343)

Was a famous Taoist and physician during the Eastern Jin Dynasty

A chemist, doctor, philosopher, and a Taoist. Well respected and one of the earliest scientist documented.

Married Bao Gu 鲍姑, a well known moxibustionist

Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang 肘后备急方
Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies

3 Sections

First Section: 35 chapters on internal diseases

Second Section: 35 chapters on external appearing diseases

Third Section: 31 chapters on external injuring diseases

Section Three – Chapter 16
Treating Cold-Heat Malaria

Line 2 – Qinghao 1 bunch, immerse with 2 liters of water, wring out and drink the juice

Qing Hao 青蒿

Ge Hong was the first in medical history to recommend the herb Qing Hao for the treatment of ‘intermittent fevers”.

His recommendation is to soak the entire fresh plant in water and to wring it out thereafter resulting in an emulsion of water, flavonoids and aromatic oils contained in the stem and leaves. This extraction method is likely to yield artemisinin in larger quantities than the decoction method.

It was and is directly linked to its use for acute episodes of fever, especially in malaria. Both artemisinin, the extracted isolated effective ingredient in Qing Hao and some flavonoids have antimalarial properties and synergism.

Ge Hong’s recommendation to ingest such a juice wrung out of Qing Hao (rather than a herbal tea or infusion made of hot water poured on to dried plant material) may be crucial in retaining the effectiveness of this herb in the treatment of malaria.

Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang 备急千金要方
Qian Jin Yi Fang 千金翼方

Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang 备急千金要方
Qian Jin Yi Fang 千金翼方

Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang – Prescriptions Worth a Thousand in Gold for Every Emergency, or shortened to be called Qian Jin Fang (QJF), written by Sun, Si Miao, 652 AD, a collection of approximately 5300 formulations.

It is written in sections starting from conditions of OBGYN, Pediatrics, ENT, Shang Han, Liver/GB, Heart, Small Intestines, Spleen, Stomach, Lung, Large Intestines, Kidney, Urinary Bladder, Xiao Ke, Dermatology, Proctology, Poisoning, Nutrition, Prevention, Pulse Diagnosis, and Acupuncture.

Bei Ji Qian Jin Yao Fang 备急千金要方
Qian Jin Yi Fang 千金翼方

Qian Jin Yi Fang was written around 682 AD by Sun, Si Miao when he was 90 years old. It is a supplement to the original Qian Jin Fang. As he gained more clinical experience and collected more formulations, he decided that he needed to publish a supplement to the original book.

It included 30 sections, 2900 formulations. Topics are Materia Medica, OBGYN, pediatrics, Shang Han Lun, prevention, dietary guidance, tonification, wind stroke, miscellaneous diseases, chemistry, Chuang Yong, pulse diagnosis, acupuncture, and prohibitions.

Wai Tai Bi Yao 外台秘要

Author: Wang, Dao 王焘, not a TCM doctor but a scholar/government official, worked in the imperial palace library.

Written in 752 AD, 40 section and collected 6,000 + formulations that existed in Tang and before Tang Dynasty.

It also preserved some of the rare writings before Tang Dynasty.

Before and During Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD): Government Sanctioned Compilations

Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang 太平圣惠方 16834

Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang 太平惠民和剂局方 788

Sheng Ji Zong Lu 圣济总录 20000

Yu Yao Yuan Fang 御药院方 1089

Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang 太平惠民和剂局方

It is also known as He Ji Ju Fang 和剂局方

Author: Chen, Shi Wen, et al. 陈师文. 1078 AD

788 formulations, a compilation.

Highly useful and “father” of patent herbal formulations

Examples: Er Chen Tang, Si Jun Zi Tang, Si Wu Tang


Song Dynasty 960-1279 AD

A period of many invasions from the Mongols. Many wars, severe corruption, but also the invention of printing press and medical schools and standardized patent herbal medicines

Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang 太平惠民和剂局方 is the foundation that created the patent herbal medicine movement

Su He Xiang Wan 苏合香丸, Zi Xue Dan 紫雪丹, Zhi Bao Dan 至宝丹

Herbs tend to be tonics, warm, pungent in nature

Private Sector
Individual Publications:

Bo Ji Fang 博济方 7000

Su Sheng Liang Fang 苏沈良方

Ji Feng Pu Ji Fang 鸡峰普济方 3000

Pu Ji Ben Shi Fang 普济本事方,Ben Shi Fang Xu Ji 本事方续集 366

San Yin Ji Yi Bing Zheng Fang Lun 三因极一病证方论 1500

Yang Shi Jia Zhang Fang 杨氏家藏方 1109

Yi Jian Fang 易简方,Xu Yi Jian Fang 续易简方 150

Shi Zhai Bai Yi Xuan Fang是斋百一选方 1000

Ji Sheng Fang 济生方,Ji Sheng Xu Fang 济生续方

Ren Zhai Zhi Zhi Fang Lun仁斋直指方论

Xuan Ming Lun Fang 宣明论方

Dong Yuan Shi Xiao Fang 东垣试效方 240

Dan Xi Xin Fa 丹溪心法 100

Shi Yi De Xiao Fang 世医得效方 3000

During Ming and Qin Dynasties 1368 – 1911 AD:

Pu Ji Fang普济方 61739

Qi Xiao Liang Fang 奇效良方 7000

Yi Fang Kao 医方考 700

Wan Bing Hui Chun 万病回春 190

Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng Lei Fang证治准绳类方 2925

Zu Ji 祖剂 74

Gu Jin Ming Yi Fang Lun 古今名医方论 150

Yi Fang Ji Jie 医方集解 380

Tang Tou Ge Jue 汤头歌诀 200

Jiang Xue Yuan Gu Fang Xuan Zhu 绛雪园古方选注 345

Chuan Ya Nei Wai Bian 串雅内外编

Yan Fang Xin Bian 验方新编,Mei Shi Yan Fang Xin Bian 梅氏验方新编 6000


1911 AD and onward:

Yi Xue Zhong Zhong Can Xi Lu 医学衷中参西录 167

Zhong Yi Fang Ji Da Ci Dian 中医方剂大辞典 96592

Li Dai Ming Yi Liang Fang Zhu Shi 历代名医良方注释2000

Zhong Yi Lei Fang Ci Dian 中医类方辞典 2540

Zhong Yi Fang Ji Xian Dai Yan Jiu 中医方剂现代研究 800

Zhong Guo Xian Dai Ming Yi Yan Fang Hui Hai 中国现代名医验方荟海 10000

Outside of China

Yi Xin Fang 医心方 (Japan 982 AD)

Yi Fang Lei Ju 医方类聚 (Korea 1445 AD) 50000

Dong Yi Bao Jian 东医宝鉴 (Korea)

Lin Chuang Ying Yong Han Fang Chu Fang Jie Shuo 临床应用汉方处方解说 (Japan 1966 AD) 366

10 Most Popular Chinese Herbal Formulas Used Today

Top 10 Formulas

Xiao Yao San 逍遥散

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang 血府逐瘀汤

Wu Ling San 五苓散

Gui Pi Tang 归脾汤

Xiao Qing Long Tang 小青龙汤

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 六味地黄丸

Xiao Chai Hu Tang 小柴胡汤

Da Cheng Qi Tang 大承气汤

Wen Dan Tang 温胆汤

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang 补中益气汤

Their Sources

Xiao Yao San 逍遥散

Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang 太平惠民和剂局方

Chai Hu, Dang Gui, Bai Shao, Bai Zhu, Fu Ling, Gan Cao, Bo He, Sheng Jiang

Liver stasis with blood deficiency causing hypochondriac pains, alternating fever and chill, headache, vertigo, dry mouth and throat, fatigue and poor appetite, irregular menstruation, breast distending pain, pulse wiry but deficient.

Xiao Yao San 逍遥散

Originated from a modification of combination of two formulas.

Si Ni San and Dang Gui Shao Yao San

Si Ni San 四逆散 (Shang Han Lun) – Gan Cao, Zhi Shi, Chai Hu, Shao Yao

Dang Gui Shao Yao San 当归芍药散 (Jin Gui Yao Lue) – Dang Gui, Shao Yao, Chuang Xiong, Fu Ling, Ze Xie, Bai Zhu

Xiao Yao San 逍遥散

Si Ni San 四逆散

Shao Yin Disease, cough, palpitation, sluggish urination, abdominal pain, dysentery

Liver stasis with cold extremities.

Dang Gui Shao Yao San 当归芍药散

Gynecologic pelvic pains and pelvic pains during pregnancy.

Xiao Yao San 逍遥散
Current Uses

Viral hepatitis, hepatic cirrhosis, cholecystitis, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, impotence, menopausal symptoms, chronic PID, fibrocystic breast disease, optic neuritis, optic neuropathy, hyperpigmentation, acne

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 六味地黄丸

Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue 小儿药证直诀

Shu Di Huang, Shan Zhu Yu, Shan Yao, Ze Xie, Dan Pi, Fu Ling.

Nourish Yin Tonify Kidney

Kidney Essence Deficiency: lumbago, heel pain, sluggish urination, night sweat, xiao ke, vertigo, tinnitus, Chi pulse large and deficient.

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 六味地黄丸

Originated from Jin Gui Shen Qi Wang 金匮肾气丸 (Jin Gui Yao Lue)

Di Huang, Shan Zhu Yu, Shan Yao, Ze Xie, Fu Ling, Dan Pi, Gui Zhi, Fu Zi

Warm Tonify Kidney Yang

Lumbago, lower trunk and extremity coldness, pelvic pain, sluggish urination, restless heat, difficulty with sleep.

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 六味地黄丸
Current Uses

Hypertension, PAC (premature atrial contractions), congestive bronchiectasis, hep B and cirrhosis, atrophic gastritis, diabetes mellitus, renal failure, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), nephritis, urinary stones, male infertility, benign prostatic hypertrophy, menopausal disorders, etc.)

Why learn and collect formularies?

Not all formulations are for all diseases. Having a collection of formulations help to widen the possibilities of finding a formulation that can work for a particularly difficult case

It helps to build a foundation of understanding of how herbs are synergistically put together in a formula

It improves our clinical outcome by having more “arsenals” in our disposal.

Discussion – Some Personal Thoughts

Merely collecting herbal formulas will not make us a better doctor, but understand how the formula is constructed and how the herbs synergistic work within a formula will help us in design and create better formulations in other cases.

Writing down formulas help us learn better than just thinking about the formula in our head.

Knowing deeply the framework of how formulas are constructed by a particular master would be much better than knowing not as deeply but by many masters.

Highlighting and knowing the frequency of a particular herb is used will help to know the consensus use of many doctors.