A Guide to the Selection of Yin Tonic Herbal Formulas

A Guide to the Selection of Yin Tonic Herbal Formulas

by Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, MS

Author: Chi Institute/Sunday, November 1, 2009/Categories: TCVM Articles, TCVM Newsletter, 2009 Fall Issue

1. Introduction

The Yin Tonic herbal formulas are used for the treatment of Yin Deficiency Patterns. Common signs of Yin Deficiency are cool-seeking behavior, panting, hot ears/nose, restlessness or hyperactivity, irritability, low fever, a red, dry tongue, and a thin, fast pulse. The King ingredients of these formulas include Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia), Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon), Bai He (Lily), and Shan Zhu Yu (Cornus). Yin Deficiency often leads to generation of false Heat or Fire in the Interior. Therefore, the herbal formulas to tonify Yin are often supplemented by the herbs to clear Heat such as Zhi Mu (Anemarrhena) and Huang Bai (Phellodendron). Yin tonic herbs are sweet, cold, enriching and tend to cause stagnation, and therefore are inappropriate to use as individual herbs in certain clinical conditions. Contraindications for Yin tonic herbs include: 1) Spleen Qi Deficiency, 2) Internal Phlegm or Damp, 3) Abdominal distension, and 4) Diarrhea, unless additional herbs are added to balance the primary characteristics of the Yin tonics.

Yin Deficiency generally occurs after chronic febrile disorders, during other chronic diseases, or as a side effect of other therapies (including corticosteroid and interferon therapy, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy). Yin Deficiency can affect the Lung, Stomach, Large Intestine, Liver, Kidney and Heart.


2. Comparison of Yin Deficiency Patterns

General Yin Deficiency signs and clinical differentiation of Lung, Heart, Stomach, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency are listed in Table 1.

3. How to select Yin Tonic Herbal Medicines

Chinese herbal selection is based on the diagnostic pattern. All of the following herbal medicines can be used for generalized Yin Deficiency, but a formula is specifically selected to match the main clinical complaint associated with a specific internal organ’s Yin Deficiency (Table 2). Acupoints with similar actions have been listed in Table 2 along with comparisons of each formula’s clinical application and its relative strength with respect to Yin tonification.


Table 1. Comparison of Common Yin Deficiency Patterns and Yin Tonic Herbal Formulas




Lung Yin Deficiency

            1) Dry cough: Lily Combination (Bai He Gu Jin Tang)

            2) Dry skin: Wu Shen San

            3) Itchy skin: Yang Yin Zhi Yang


Stomach Yin Deficiency


4) Gastric ulcer: Stomach Happy or Jade Lady (Yu Nu Jian)

5) Stomatitis/gingivitis/halitosis: Qing Wei San or Jade Lady (Yu Nu Jian)


Large Intestine Yin Deficiency


6) Dry stool/constipation: Dang Gui Cong Rong


Kidney Yin Deficiency


7) Renal failure: Rehmannia 6 (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) or Zuo Gui Wan

8) Bi Syndrome/general arthritis: Di Gu Pi San

9) Wei Syndrome or hind limb weakness: Hu Qian Wan

10) Infertility: Zuo Gui Wan

11) Diabetes: Xiao Ke Fang

12) Cushing’s disease: Ophiopogon
Formula (Mai Men Dong)

Heart Yin Deficiency

13) General: Heart Yin Tonic

14) Stomatitis/gingivitis: Heart Fire
Flare-up (Xi Xin San)

15) Shen Disturbance

a. Mild: Suan Zao Ren

b. Moderate: Er Yin Jian

c. Severe: Zhen Xin San

d. With Blood Deficiency: Shen Calmer

Liver Yin Deficiency

16) General: Yi Guan Jian

17) Red eyes/KCS: Qi Ju Di Huang

18) Hypertension: Jiang Ya Tang

19) Seizure: Yang Yin Xi Feng

Global Yin Deficiency

20) Mild: Rehmannia 6 (Liu Wei Di Huang)

21) Moderate: Zuo Gui Wan

22) Severe: Da Bu Yin Wan

23) With False heat: Zhi Bai Di Huang


Other Yin Deficiency.


24) With Concurrent Qi Deficiency

a. Wei Syndrome: Hindquarter
Weakness Formula

b. Bi Syndrome: Di Gu Pi San


c. Heart disease: Sheng Mai Yin

d. Diabetes, Cushings: Rehmannia 11

e. Thyroid disorder: Jia Bing Fang


25) With Concurrent Blood Deficiency

a. Flaky skin: Dandruff Formula

b. Weak tendons/ligaments, or poor growth of hooves/paws: Tendon/Ligament

c. Shen Disturbance: Shen Calmer

d. Seizure: Tian Ma Plus II

26) With Concurrent Yang Deficiency

a. General or Cushing’s disease: Rehmannia 14

b. Infertility: Epimedium Formula

            c. Paresis/IVDD: Di Huang Yin Zi


Table 2. Most Common Yin Tonics: Comparison of Clinical Applications, Relative Strength, and Acupoints with Similar Actions







Table 2. Most Common Yin Tonics: Comparison of Clinical Applications, Relative Strength, and Acupoints with Similar Actions (Continued)






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