Má Xìng Gān Shí Tāng from the Zhù Jiě Shāng Hán Lùn

Chéng Wú-Jǐ (1050-1144) images.jpg

A scholar/physician from the Northern Sōng dynasty who compiled the Annotations to the Shāng Hán Lùn (注解伤寒论), which became what’s known as the Sōng version of the Shāng Hán Lùn used to the present day.  Chéng devoted over forty years of his life to compiling his seminal work, which he completed in 1140. However, Chéng never saw it published, which occurred in 1172, close to thirty years after his death. Chéngs’ annotation was extremely comprehensive and detailed, citing numerous sources and references in his attempt to repair and resolve the various inconsistencies that existed amongst the numerous surviving versions of the text.

The following is taken from Chéngs Annotations to the Shāng Hán Lùn

Line 63:

“Following the promotion of sweat, Guì Zhī Tāng should not be given again; (if) there is sweating with panting and the absence of great heat, one can use má xìng gān shí tāng (Ephedra, Apricot Kernel, Licorice, and Gypsum Decoction)”. 1


With panting after the promotion of sweat, one can typically use guì zhī jiā hòu pò xìng zǐ tāng (Cinnamon Twig Decoction Plus Magnolia Bark and Apricot Kernel), as once sweat (further) effuses, the condition will resolve.  (However) here there is sweating with panting signifying that evil qì is quite severe, therefore guì zhī tāng (Cinnamon Twig Decoction) would be unable to effuse and dissipate (evils), and so this is the reason, the guì zhī tāng should not be given again. Sweating and panting with great heat, indicates the presence of severe hot qì in the interior. The absence of great heat signifies that exterior evils must be severe. In this case it is suitable to give má xìng gān shí tāng in order to dissipate the evils. 

Má Xìng Gān Shí Tāng (Ephedra, Apricot Kernel, Licorice, and Gypsum Decoction)

má huáng (Ephedrae Herba) 4 liǎng (remove nodes)- flavor is sweet and warm

xìng rén (Armeniacae Semen amarum) 50 pieces (remove skin and tips)- flavor is sweet and warm

zhì gān cǎo (Glycyrrhizae Radix preparata) 2 liǎng- flavor is sweet and neutral

shí gāo (Gypsum fibrosum) ½ jīn (crushed and cotton wrapped)- flavor is sweet and cold

The Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng says “When the liver suffers from urgency, swiftly eat sweet (flavors) in order to moderate it”. (Here) wind qì passes through the liver and wind evils are severe in the exterior, therefore a purely sweet formula is given to effuse it.

For the four ingredients above use seven shēng of water.  First boil the má huáng and reduce (the water) by two shēng and remove the foam collecting on top. Add the remaining ingredients and boil until reduced to two shēng, remove the dregs and take one shēng warm.  The original text says that the formula should be put into a yellow-eared cup (a Hàn dynasty drinking vessel). 

1. It should be noted here that line 162 is almost identical to this one with the only difference being that the line starts off by saying “following precipitation”.

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