Oriental Medicine and Health Services


About Formulas

Hierarchy of Ingredients

  • Chief
    • Directed against and has the greatest effect upon the principal pattern or disease
  • Deputy
    • Aids the Chief in treating the principal pattern or disease
    • or, serves as main ingredient directed against a secondary pattern or disease
  • Assistant 3 types
    • Helpful: reinforces Chief or Deputy or directly treats less important aspect of the pattern or disease
    • Corrective: moderates or eliminates toxicity or harsh properties of Chief or Deputy
    • Opposing: has effect opposite of Chief; used in serious and complex disorders
  • Envoy
    • Focuses formula on certain channel or body area
    • or, harmonizes and integrates actions of the other ingredients

A Sample Formula

  • Si Jun Zi Tang four gentleman decoction
    • Ren Shen (3-9g)
    • Bai Zhu (6-9g)
    • Fu Ling (6-9g)
    • Zhi Gan Cao (3-6g)
  • Actions: tonifies qi and strengthens the Spleen
  • Indications: pallid complexion, low and soft voice, reduced appetite, loose stools, and weak limbs; tongue body pale; pulse thin, frail

Analysis of Formula

  • Chief Ren Shen
    • Sweet, warm, and a powerful tonic for Spleen qi
  • Deputy Bai Zhu
    • Bitter, warm, strengthens the Spleen and dries dampness
    • Works with ren shen to improve the transportive and transformative functions of the Spleen
  • Assistant Fu Ling
    • Sweet, bland, and leaches out dampness
    • Assists Chief and Deputy in strengthening the Spleen
    • Moderates cloying nature of Envoy
  • Envoy Zhi Gan Cao
    • Warms and regulates the middle burner
    • Moderates draining nature of Assistant

Construction of a Custom Formula

  • Not all formulas contain all levels of the hierarchy
  • Formulas from books / traditional formulas are referred to as base formulas
  • Ingredients may be added to and / or taken away from base formulas
  • Overall dosage and the ratio of dosage among ingredients may be changed