Details of Spread the Liver Formula
There are many forms and variations of “Shu Gan Wan” such as “Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan”. Chai hu bupleurum is the key root to all of them.
Cyperus and Peony (Shu Gan Wan) is my “go-to” formula stress-induced digestive problems especially when there is pain. You know, when you have a big test or you have to visit unpleasant relatives and your stomach mysteriously starts hurting.
The (Chinese) Liver is very sensitive to emotions and when the Liver doesn’t move that free flowing “qi/energy” it can attack the (Chinese) Spleen and Stomach system and can cause pain there. This can happen even when you aren’t conscious of anger or being upset. Only that you aren’t happy or facing unpleasant things.
So you can remember when you have had stress and/or bloating that may lead to pain.”Stress-induced” can also mean “hormonal” or PMS, anything coincidental with the time just before or during a woman’s period.
Someone wrote me asking the difference between Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan and Shu Gan Wan. This is what I wrote back:
Thanks for asking. It is a bit confusing because there are many variations of Shu Gan Wan and they can vary. The two we carry and you mentioned both have Chai Hu in them. Both are for helping the stomach feel better. “Shu Gan Wan” translates as “smooth the liver”. The liver in this case represents mental stress which is causing problems for the stomach.
The Shu Gan Wan we carry does what Chai Hu Shu Gan does but Shu Gan Wan is for more pain that may come with stomach issues. So you might be stressed and not have much of an appetite (Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan) but if you get a stomach ache from thinking about it then that is Shu Gan Wan.
I hope this helps and is not too confusing.
Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan= stomach bloating issues, stress etc…
Shu Gan Wan= painful stomach and stomach bloating issues, stress etc…
柴胡 hare’s ear root, thorowax root, bupleurum Radix Bupleuri [
Regulates the qi, you can think of this as the enteric (digestive) nervous system.
Bai Shao is often used with Chai Hu above to “soften the liver” and mediate some of the effects of the strength of Chai Hu.
陳皮 citrus Medica
This regulates intestinal movement and dries excess fluids in the intestines.
枳殼 Citrus Aurantii Fructus
Like Chen Pi above, this regulates the movements of the intestines to address bloating or constipation.
香附 cyperus, nut-grass rhizome Cyperi Rhizoma
Another qi regulator to make sure that the intestinal contents don’t get stagnated and turn in to gas or dampness.
Another qi regulator that can stop pain, calm the emotions and soothe the liver.
As it’s latin name suggest Bai Dou Kou is aromatic and lifts turbidity from the Spleen/ Stomach system which tends to get bound by stress.]
甘草 licorice root Radix Glycyrrhizae [
This licorice root is added to the formula for two reasons.
It harmonizes and softens the effects of the other herbs in the formula to prevent harsh reactions or side-effects.
It also gently supports the digestion to keep the digestion working well.