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Ma huang tang(Ephedra Decoction/Ma-huang Comb )---麻黄汤

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Product Description

【组成】  麻黄(9g)  桂枝(6g)  杏仁(6g)  炙甘草(3g)
【功用】 发汗解表,宣肺平喘。
【主治】  外感风寒表实证恶寒发热,头疼身痛无汗而喘,舌苔薄白,脉浮紧。
【歌诀】  麻黄汤中用桂枝,杏仁甘草四般施,发热恶寒头项痛,喘而无汗服之宜。

Ma huang tang(Ephedra Decoction )

【INGREDIENTS】: Ephedra 6g ; Cassia twig 4g ; Bitter apricot kernel 9g; Roasted licorice 3g

【DIRECTIONS】: Decoct ephedra first. After removing the floating foam, then put in the other herbs to keep decocting for oral administration.

【EFFECTS】: Inducing perspiration to relieve the exterior and dispersing lung to relieve asthma.

【INDICATIONS】:Exogenous attack of wind and cold manifested by chill, fever, headache, pain of body, absence of sweat but asthma, thin and white coating, float­ing tight pulse. 

【ANALYSIS OF FORMULA】: This is a classic formula for the exterior exces­sive syndrome due to attack of cold with strong diaphoretic effect because of its pungent flavor and warm nature. With warm nature for assisting yang to expel cold and pungent flavor for relieving the exterior, ephedra acts as the main herb to disperse the lung for relieving asthma, because it particularly acts on the Lung Meridian, Cassia twig as the assistant herb, with warm nature and sweet flavor can warm meridians and dispell cold as well as activate flow of the nutrient and defensive qi. Bitter apricot kernel, with sweet and bitter flavors and warm nature, soothes the lung to lower qi and assist ephedra relieving asthma. Roasted licorice root, as the dispatcher herb, can mitigate the drastic properties of ephedra and cas­sia twig and harmonize all the components.

This is a pungent-warm exterior-relieving formula, so that it is not suitable for the exterior syndrome due to wind-heat. Besides, in Treatise on Cold-Attack, it is prohibited in sufferers of sores, stranguria, epistaxis and blood lose, spontane­ous sweating due to exterior deficiency, slow pulse on the “chi” portion due to blood deficiency, heaviness of body with palpitation due to erroneous purgation, e­ven though there is the exterior syndrome. Because the sweat, blood, body-fluid and liquid and qi are homagenous substances of same source. If diaphoretic thera­py is applied to the above-mentioned conditions the genuine qi will be injured.

In the present clinic, this formula is commonly applied to exogenous attack, influenza, chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma pertaining to the exterior ex­cessive syndrome due to wind and cold.


(1)   Major Blue Dragon Decoction (da qing long tang)(Treatise on Cold- Attack):

Ephedra 12g, cassia twig 4g, Roasted licorice 5g, bitter apricot kernel 6g, gyp­sum 12g, fresh ginger-9g, Chinese date 3 pcs.

Decoct ephedra first. After getting rid of the floating foam, put in the other herbs. The decoction should be taken warmly in a mug to have slight sweating. If sweating is abundant, puff the warm powder on body surface. It induce perspira­tion to relieve the exterior and clear away heat for relieving fidget. Indications: ex­ogenous attack of wind and cold marked by both heavy fever and chill, pain of body, absence of sweat but fidget, floating tight pulse.

NOTES: The indication of Major Blue Dragon Decoction is characterized by absence of sweat due to blockage of the skin orifices by the severe cold attack and fidget due to stagnation of the defense-yang transforming into interior heat. So, on the basis of Ephedra Decoction, the dosage of ephedra is doubled to strengthen di­aphoretic effect for relieving th| exterior, gypsum is added to clear away the inte­rior heat, double dosage of licorice with fresh ginger and Chinese date can mitigate the drastic diaphoretic effect of ephedra and cassia twig and harmonize the nutri­ent and defensive qi to nourishing the source of sweat. It is the strongest formula for inducing perspiration. So, it should be cautious to apply in clinic in order to prevent from over sweating.

The “warm powder” in this formula is the warm powder formula recorded in The Essential Formulae Worth A Thousand Gold for Emergency, i. e. calcined dragon’s bone and oyster shell (9g)astragalus root(9g) and round-grained rice (30g). The powder of the above herbs is wrapped in cloth of thin silk which is dusted gently on skin to stop sweating.

(2)   Atractylodes plus Ephedra Decoction (ma huang jia zhu tang)(Synop­sis of the Golden Chamber):

It is just the Ephedra Decoction plus 9 gram of bighead atractylodes. It induces perspiration for expelling cold and dampness and relieving the exterior. So it -s suitable to sufferer of dampness attack marked by irritating pain of body.

(3)   Ephedra, Apricot, Coix and licorice Decoction (ma xing yi gan tang)

(Synopsis of the Golden Chamber):            

Ephedra 6g, bitter apricot kernel lOg, Roasted licorice 5g, coix seed 15g.

The above herbs should be decocted in water for oral use. It has the effect of relieving the exterior and expelling dampness. Indications: Wind-dampness syndrome manifested by pain of body and fever aggravated in the afternoon.

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