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Alternative to Bai Zhu


Bai Zhu is the only herb that my spleen is responsive to. I've been taking Rou Gui and Sheng Jiang for a long time in my formula, but I'm still cold, have weak digestion and my spleen hurts. Bai Zhu works very well, but gives me burning pain in the liver, I don't know if it's because of yin deficiency or Qi stagnation or damp heat. I'm taking Chai Hu, Bai Shao and rhemannia already.

So are there any alternatives to Bai Zhu? What about black cumin in TCM?


When someone writes something like - "I don&#39t know if its because of yin deficiency or Qi stagnation or damp heat" - my first thought is an unclear diagnosis. Instead of looking for an alternative herb with the same function why don&#39t you first describe what it is that you are treating with supporting signs and symptoms to help clarify the diagnosis. Furthermore, I would describe in precise detail what you have been taking formula wise and what it has helped over what time and from what dosage and what you feel it left unresolved.


I mentioned these liver symptoms because I have all of them to some small degree. OK, I will write all necessary information, but it will be a long post. Several practitioners and myself were trying to find proper formula for me and had only moderate success.

I was always yang deficient, underweight person, after developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I started serious TCM treatment. Some symptoms were resolved, but these remain:

debilitating fatigue after slight exertion, chest pain, throat pain with enlarged tonsils and red spots on back of the throat, severe sensitivity to cold air, throat sensitive to some herbs like licorice, ginger, sometimes cold extremities, general cold feeling, lazy and weak digestion, haviness, sensitive stomach, pain in the spleen when eating cold, hard to digest things, I can&#39t even drink room temperature water because it&#39s too cold for my stomach, I can&#39t drink tea or take cardamon due to blood deficiency, liver pain sometimes, acid regurgitation in middle of the night sometimes, severe liver burning and fever after even few drops of alcohol, sometimes weak legs, depression, constipation, sometimes hard to study or concentrate. irritability, sometimes hot hands and feet. sensitive lungs. spitting watery phlegm several times a day despite only thin tongue coating. heart problems, mitral valve prolapse, dan shen helps quite a bit but can&#39t find proper nourishing herbs for heart, wu wei zi and bai zi yang xin wan causes me to lie down because of stiffiness.

Tongue: pale with red tip, thin white coating with red spots in rear area. In the middle barely seen strange purple or grey coloration. Vertical crack and slightly red area around it. Also I will mention that on my body there are brown rough skin lesions: on stomach, small intestine and spleen area, but also on my arm along large intestine meridian and on feet near spleen, gallbladder and stomach meridians.

Before CFS when I was taking strong digestive enzymes I actually had huge apetite, but it was probably stomach fire with spleen qi deficiency, also they were giving me heartburn.

My formula:

Mai Men Dong

Mu Dan Pi

Fu Pen Zi

Rou Gui

Gui Zhi

Huang Qi

Dang Gui

Ren Shen

Gan Cao

Sheng Jiang

He Huan Pi

Bai Shao

Fu Shen

Dan Shen

Wu Zhu Yu

Dosage is 6g daily of 5:1 granules. Exact dosages of single herbs in formula are unknown to me. I take it for 11 months.

It doesn&#39t really help my digestion, and in terms of feeling cold effects varies, sometimes I feel cold even after drinking it, but generally I was more cold at the beginning of treatment so it helps a lot. It helped for kidneys, I almost couldn&#39t walk before treatment. Also empty heat before treatment was really severe. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang greatly helps for cold even when taking 1/24 dosage, but causes liver pain.

In recent months I started to feel effects of my diet on the liver (a lot of meat) and tried to purge it with dandelion. Tiny amounts of it worked by expelling noticable bile, but such purging greatly weakened me for some days.


When you say "Some symptoms were resolved, but these remain: " - what symptoms resolved? and have they stayed resolved? Additionally over what time period are we talking about - from when you started "serious" tcm treatment to the point where some symptoms resolved to now? And are you obtaining acupuncture at all or just trying to do this herbally? If just herbally, why? Finally is your herbalist also an acupuncturist - or just an herbalist?


16 months ago I started initial TCM treatment but it wasn&#39t appropriate. My practitioner tried to prescribe me yang tonics but my liver reacted so badly that it was impossible (empty heat), so I was prescribed just An Shen Bu Xin Wan for my anxiety (and some kidney yin tonic), it didn&#39t help much and some things became worse, especially spleen and kidney. But it helped for muscle pain and heat, which was one of the first symptoms in my disease.

Only 11 months ago I got that prescription you can see above. It qucikly resolved inability to walk, night sweats, cold feet, fear, palpitations and gave me more strength.

Just herbally because my practitioner didn&#39t propose acupuncutre, I don&#39t know why. Only recently I was trying moxa and acupressure.

I forgot to add Shu Di Huang to the list.


Also I have no thirst, I drink only 1 litre of water daily. Maybe Fu Ling would be good.


In my mind you don&#39t have a very clear diagnosis - certainly not enough for treatment. I would consider seeing another practitioner and ideally one who would also do acupuncture on you - but that&#39s just my opinion. If from yang tonics in particular you had strong yin deficient signs you need to deal with all of that first. If you are going to do this all herbally right now, I would drop everything you are doing and do the following.

1. In the AM start do some brief standing meditation - start with 10 minutes and build up to 20

2. Do no herbs during the day but work on your diet - i.e. eat very well and nourishing easy to digest foods lots of steamed vegetables, no cold/raw foods, no sugar, no fried foods.

3) Around dinner and at bedtime take a dose of suan zao ren tang or tian wan bu xin wan - whichever seem to feel the best to you.

4) After about 1 month of this, start working in a very mild formula like bao ji wan during the day as an extremely mild spleen tonic.

5) After 1 month of that then check back in.

You can also do acupressure on HT 7 in the evenings before retiring and LV 3 and SP 6 upon arising.


Thank you, but I can&#39t take suan zao ren or wu wei zi which is in Tian Wan Bu Xin Wan because they cause me to lie down due to chest congestion. Suan Zao ren is less severe in this regard, but still I can take only 1/12 dosage for few days before it gives side effects. Also it often gives me nightmares (liver fire?) even if it seems to be very effective at improving sleep - with it I sleep so strongly that it&#39s hard to wake up, I guess it regenerative rest.

Maybe I wrote this unclearly, but with Bai Shao, Mu Dan Pi and Sheng Di Huang yin deficiency is under control, barely, but with so many contradictory problems it would be hard to expect more. Before current prescription I was tonifying yin only and it quickly damaged my spleen and yang. About Bao Ji Wan I can&#39t tolerate mint. Without current herbs I&#39m very weak, I tried not taking them for a week. Nontheless I will think about it, you recommend acupuncture with moxa? I actually can&#39t affrod acupuncture more than once a month, only self moxa and acupressure.


Not to doubt your own experience, but you were taking so many things at once with so many directions I&#39m not surprised you had problems. If you want my advice, try exactly what I say - nothing else has worked and you are clearly still having trouble so what do you really have to lose?

When you say "I can&#39t take..." - keep in mind what this actually means is "at one point I had a problem taking...". Nothing is fixed - ever - and done in the right amounts and in the right order you should do well on these formulas but you have to go slowly and give it time and you have to be involved with your diet and lifestyle changes.

If you slept well on suan zao ren then that would be fine. If a normal dose of pills would be 8 - 3x/day do 4 twice a day with nothing else. The nothing else is very important. With regards to bao ji wan, just remember that you had problems before primarily because you were doing too many strong and contradictory formulas - not that you will always react to mint. Bao He Wan would be a suitable alternative.

Moxa in cooler months might be appropriate at CV 6 and ST 36, but if you are still having heat signs and/or in warmer months it would generally be avoided. Although if acupuncture is completely out of the question, then some moxa at those points perhaps twice a week in the earlier part of the day would be ok along with some of the recommended acupressure.

I would also suggest that you attend some of our online healing classes on Tuesdays and you could do some of the qi gong we do after the healing class with us - or any of the tong ren energy healing classes offered via

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