Shenqi Wan was first mentioned 1,850 years ago in five different chapters of Zhang Zhongjing’s classical formula primer for complex disorders, Essentials from the Golden Cabinet (Jingui yaolüe). It is often cited as a prime example for the precise and symmetrical design of classical prescriptions: 3 herbs are intended to tonify the body’s physical essences, namely the yin of Kidney, Spleen and Liver; while 3 herbs prevent pathological yin excess (stagnating water, phlegm, and Blood heat) in the same organ systems. Two pungent ingredients, namely cinnamon and aconite in comparatively small amounts, strengthen functional energy by warming mingmen fire and prevent the rather sticky yin herbs from becoming an undue burden to the digestive system. In this manner, Shenqi Wan not only addresses issues of deficiency and excess in the core organs of the middle and lower burners, but fortifies both the original yin and yang. While the formula’s derivative Liuwei Dihuang Wan (Six Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia) is widely regarded as the representative remedy for tonification of Kidney yin, Shenqi Wan specifically tonifies Kidney qi—the fundamental force behind life’s rhythms of growing, aging and sexual maturity, which is produced by the constant interaction of the Kidney’s original yin and original yang. While Shenqi Wan and its variant Liuwei Dihuang Wan tend to be overprescribed in modern Chinese herbalism (chronic exhaustion disorders in contemporary patients tend to primarily involve Spleen and Liver imbalances), the remedy constitutes one of the fundamental paths for addressing chronic Kidney issues and thus covers a wide range of pathologies. The name Jingui Shenqi Wan underscores that the remedy was prepared in the classical way, using raw rehmannia and cinnamon twig (rather than the later variation of cooked rehmannia and cinnamon bark).

Therapeutic Principles

  • Tonify Kidney qi
  • Enhance water metabolism

Formula Architecture 

生地黃 Sheng Dihuang Rehmannia, raw 29.63%
山藥 Shanyao Dioscorea 14.81%
山茱萸 (酒蒸) Shanzhuyu Cornus; wine treated 14.81%
澤瀉 Zexie Alisma 11.11%
茯苓 Fuling Poria 11.11%
牡丹皮 Mudanpi Moutan 11.11%
桂枝 (尖) Guizhi Cinnamon twig 3.70%
附子 (竹刀削, 蒸制) Fuzi Aconite; peeled w/ bamboo knife, steam cured 3.70%

Jingui Shenqi Wan