Functions of herbs to regulate the Qi

  • Regulate, harmonize, or spread Qi to treat Qi stagnation, which can be caused by emotional disturbance, accumulation of internal cold, heat, water, phlegm, or food.  Qi stagnation can also occur with trauma or Blood stagnation.
  • Qi stagnation is characterized by distention of the affected area and is categorized by degree.  A feeling of fullness is mild, distention is considered advanced, and pain is severe.
  • These herbs can also be used to treat water accumulations, phlegm, food stagnation, or blood stagnation, as these conditions are always a cause of Qi stagnation.
  • Qi regulating herbs stimulate the movement of Qi and enhance the effects of other herbs.
  • In tonifying formulas, these herbs are often used to prevent cloying.
  • Caution must be used during pregnancy (especially herbs entering LV & GB meridians), with heavy menstruation, bleeding conditions, and yin deficiency (easily damage yin and fluids).
Chuan Lian Zi bitter cold LI, LV, ST, UB
Zhi Ke acrid, bitter slightly cold LI, SP, ST
Zhi Shi acrid, bitter slightly cold LI, SP, ST
Xiang Fu acrid, bitter neutral GB, LV, SJ
Da Fu Pi acrid slightly warm LI, SI, SP, ST
Wu Yao acrid warm KD, LU, SP, UB
Tan Xiang acrid, aromatic warm LU, SP, ST
Chen Pi acrid, aromatic, bitter warm LU, SP, ST
Chen Xiang acrid, aromatic, bitter warm KD, SP, ST
Ju Hong acrid, bitter warm LU, ST
Mu Xiang acrid, bitter warm GB, LI, SJ, SP
Qing Pi acrid, bitter warm GB, LV, ST


Characteristics of Herbs that Regulate Qi

  • Pungent and warm to move the Qi (Chen Pi, Wu Yao, Xiang Fu, Mu Xiang).
  • Enter the Liver, Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine & Lung.  These are the organs that directly influence Qi movement.
    • Spleen & Stomach: Chen Pi, Zhi Shi, Sha Ren, Da Fu Pi.
    • Liver: Xiang Fu, Qing Pi, Chuan Lian Zi, Mu Xiang, Wu Yao.
    • Large Intestine: Da Fu Pi, Hou Po, Mu Xiang
Chuan Lian Zi Relieves LV qi constraint in chest and abdomen, bulging disorders, hernia, pain from parasites, conducts heat & qi down & out, clears dampheat through urine.
Zhi Ke Milder than Zhi Shi, regulates qi to ease phlegm & distention of chest & abdomen, high doses (24g) for prolapse.
Zhi Shi Strongly descends qi to unblock bowels, reduces accumulation and focal distension, transforms phlegm for distention of chest and epigastrium.
Xiang Fu Gently regulates LV qi, harmonizes SP & ST, regulates menstruation, stops pain (LV qi constraint affecting blood flow).
Da Fu Pi Moves gut qi down to expel damp/food/qi stagnation, increases urination for edema.
Wu Yao For cold and qi stagnation in LJ or cold abdomen, bulging disorders, menstrual pain, warms KD for cold urinary problems/frequency.
Tan Xiang Unbinds stagnant qi above diaphragm esp. in cases of CAD (2-5g), regulates qi of chest (nausea in chest & throat).
Chen Pi Descends & regulates qi in UJ & MJ, dries/transforms phlegm-damp, prevents cloying
Chen Xiang Warms KD to grasp qi, warms MJ, descends rebellious qi for SP, ST, KD xu.
Ju Hong More drying than Chen Pi, for phlegm-damp in LU & ST.
Mu Xiang Unbinds qi for cramping intestinal pain & tenesmus, flank pain, prevents cloying & food stagnation.  For poor digestion, LOA, distention, diarrhea, dysenteric disorder due to damp-heat (w/ cooling herbs).
Qing Pi Strongly moves LV qi down for flank pain, severe food stagnation, dissipates clumps (for stagnant qi causing xue stasis), breast lumps, bulging disorders.

Lung Qi Stagnation: breathlessness, stifling sensation in the chest, cough, and wheeze.

Spleen & Stomach Qi Stagnation: fullness and distention of entire abdomen, reduced appetite, belching, acid regurgitation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel movements.

Liver Qi Stagnation: hypochondriac distention and pain, irritability, depression, distention and pain of breasts, irregular menses, and pain of the lower lateral abdomen (LV & GB channels).

Qi Stagnation in the Meridians: stiffness, heaviness, numbness, tingling in affected area, or migrating pain of the limbs.