TCM Principles - Use of Chinese Medicine Singles for Improved Accuracy in Treatment


TCM Principles


Use of Chinese Medicine Singles for Improved Accuracy in Treatment


By Dagmar Riley




Sun Ten granulated extracts are a Taiwanese brand of the highest quality. Characteristics of the Taiwanese prescribing style, suitable to Sun Ten products, are:

  • The vast majority of Practitioners in Taiwan prescribe granules in the form of ready-made formulas with single herb additions. This differs from raw herb prescribing, where all formulas are made ‘from scratch’.
  • Single herb extracts are often added at a dose of 0.1-1 gram TID; 0.3 g TID is common (about 1 gram per day).
  • Proportions within the target dose are given greater consideration than precise raw herb equivalence.

Tailor your formulas to your patient and improve accuracy in treatment: Examples of popular formulas modified with Singles according to Peter Townsend


Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

[Ginseng & Astragalus Formula]

Dang Gui Shao Yao San

[Dang Gui & Peony Combination]

Gui Pi Tang

[Ginseng & Longan Combination]

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

[Bupleurum & Peony Combination]

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

[Rehmannia Six Combination]

Ba Zhen Tang

[Dang Gui & Ginseng Eight Combination]:

Suan Zao Ren Tang

[Zizyphus Combination]:

How to create highly effective, historically proven formulas with just a few singles

Not only can singles be used to modify base formulas, a simple combination of 2-4 singles can create time-proven, highly effective formulas. These can be used on their own or to modify base formulas. The following are some examples:


Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang

[Dang Gui and Astragalus Decoction]

Dang Gui [Angelica sinensis] + Huang Qi [Astragalus]

Actions: Supplements blood, supplements qi (to increase the ability to engender blood).

Symptoms and signs: Anaemia; desire to drink warm drinks; fatigue; fever; hot flashes; irritability; leukopenia; menorrhagia; irregular menstrual periods; pale tongue; floating-large-forceless-empty pulse.


Er Miao San

Cang Zhu [Atractylodes] + Huang Bai [Phellodendron]

Actions: Clears heat, dries dampness.

Indications: Damp-heat lodged in the lower burner affecting the sinews, bones, and genital region.

Symptoms and signs: Gout; heat in the feet; pain in the lower back; painful lower limbs; red feet; red knees; rheumatoid arthritis; swelling of the feet; swelling of the knees; vaginitis; weakness of the lower limbs; yellow, thick, smelly leukorrhea; athlete’s foot; dark urine; eczema; gonorrhoea; scanty urine; urinary tract infection; tongue with greasy-yellow coating; slippery-rapid pulse; soft-rapid pulse.


Xiao Luo Wan

[Scrophularia and Fritillaria Pill]

Mu Li [Oyster Shell] + Zhe Bei Mu [Fritillaria] + Xuan Shen [Scrophularia]

Actions: Softens hardness and disperses binds.

Symptoms and signs: Goitre; scrofula; hyperthyroidism; thyroiditis; red tongue; slippery-rapid pulse; rapid-wiry pulse.


Zeng Ye Tang

[Increase the Fluids Decoction]

Mai Men Dong [Ophiopogon] + Xuan Shen [Scrophularia] + Sheng Di Huang [Raw Rehmannia]

Actions: Supplements yin and fluids, clears heat.

Symptoms and signs: Chronic pancreatitis; constipation; dry mouth after radiotherapy; dry throat; irritation of the intestines; thirst; ulcer; red, dry tongue; weak-forceless pulse; fine-rapid-forceless pulse.


New series: An exploration of single herbs in practical table form

This article is the first in a series that will explore each single herb category in a practical table format for quick reference in your clinic. Gain instant clarity on the similarities and differences of all herbs in one category to choose the most effective herb for your formula modifications.


Resolving the Exterior - Resolving the Exterior with Warmth an/red Acridity



Channels Entered

Actions and Indications



Gui Zhi [Cinnamon Twigs]

Acrid, sweet, warm

Lung, spleen, heart, bladder

Effuse and Dissipate Wind-Cold:

For Wind- Cold Exterior Patterns

Warms and unblocks the channels and collaterals: For amenorrhea and impediment pain caused by wind-cold.

Assists yang and promotes qi transformation: For chest impediment, phlegm-rheum, and oedema.

Qiang Huo [Notopterygium]

Acrid, bitter, warm

Bladder, liver, lung, kidney

Overcomes dampness and alleviates pain: For wind-damp painful obstruction, headache and stiff nape.

Jing Jie [Schizonepeta]

Acrid, slightly warm

Lung, liver

Vents rashes and alleviates itching: For initial stage of measles and pruritic skin eruptions.

Stops bleeding: For hemorrhage.

Fang Feng [Siler]

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