Huang Lian Jie Du Tang


 ‘Coptis Decoction to Eliminate Toxin’
Source: arcane Essentials from the Imperial Library (Wai Tai Mi Yao, 752)


Systemic Damp-Heat or Toxic-Heat

Coptis chinensis (Huang Lian, coptis)
Scutellaria baicalensis (Huang Qin, Baical skullcap root)
Phellodendron chinensis (Huang Bo, phellodendron)
Gardenia jasminoides (Shan Zhi Zi, gardenia)

Major therapeutic action
Clears infection, cools fevers.

Biomedical action
antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic.
*  Fever with symptoms like concentrated urine, insomnia, irritability, and, in severe cases, disturbances of consciousness. When the appropriate key symptoms are present, this formula can be used to treat disorders such as upper respiratory tract infection, septicaemia, urinary tract infection, lymphangitis, pyogenic skin infections, gout, bacterial and amoebic dysentery, cholecystitis, stomatitis, gingivitis, hepatitis and encephalitis.
*  Problems affecting the liver, gallbladder, stomach, intestines and urinary bladder with symptoms of fever, dark, scanty urine which may be difficult to pass, fullness and pain of chest and hypochondrium, jaundice, bitter taste, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, abdominal distension, haematuria, diarrhoea, stools with blood and mucus, strong stool odour, anal burning, heaviness of body and limbs, rapid pulse, and a red tongue with a sticky yellow coating. Can be used in dysenteric disorders, and acute intestinal infections including Giardia and Shigella.
*  Used for individuals who constitutionally have problems with hypertension or recurrent boils and acne.
*  Bleeding disorders including bruising, haematemesis, epistaxis, and petechiae.
*  Can be used to alleviate the effects of excess alcohol consumption (as a single dose the morning after).

Key symptoms for use
*  fever, or a chronic tendency to heat, especially in the upper body
*  red face, eyes and ears
*  easy bleeding, especially from the nose and into the sclera
*  thirst, voracious appetite
*  red tongue with a yellow coat
*  rapid, strong pulse

*  With constipation, add Da Huang.
*  For severe upper respiratory tract infection, combine with Qing Fei Tang.
*  For diarrhoea with mucus and possibly blood, with Ge Gen.
*  For chronic skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema from internal heat, combine with Si Wu Tang  (Wen Qing Yin).
The typical dose is three grams twice daily, before meals. In severe cases or the early stages of treatment (the first two weeks), a 50-100% increase in dose may be used, then reduced as the treatment takes effect.

Cautions and contraindications
This formula is very bitter and cold and can easily damage the digestion. It should only be used for the duration of the acute patterns, usually no longer than a few weeks. In those few circumstances where prolonged use is indicated (for example, in those with a constitutional tendency to the above patterns), pay close attention to the patient’s digestive function.

Overdosage can cause dizziness and vomiting.

Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin: Localised disorders such as pyogenic skin sores, boils and mastitis with less systemic involvement.