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Siler and Astragalus Combination

Siler and Astragalus Combination


Greg Zimmerman has over 20 years of experience as a professional Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine practitioner. He started to learn Chinese Medicine theory while still in High School. In college he studied biology and biochemistry as a major and quickly moved into the discipline and received his Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Since then Greg has practiced as a clinician and has continually studied specialized advanced aspects and specific areas of discipline that are a part of this 5000-year old medical legacy.

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Siler and Astragalus Combination, Yu Ping Feng San is a popular formula used to tonify the defensive qi (wei qi) in order to secure the exterior and protect the body from external pathogenic invasion.

“Yu Ping Feng” 玉屏風 refers to a jade windscreen or a windscreen that is as precious as jade.  The name refers to Yu Ping Feng San’s ability to secure the surface and prevent external pathogenic invasions as opposed to treating pathogenic invasions. This is ideal because it is better to prevent an illness rather than risk damage to vital qi, blood, and body fluid caused by a pathogenic invasion and the treatment required to release the exterior.

Wei qi flows at the body’s surface outside of the vessels where it warms the flesh and flushes the skin to keep it lustrous and healthy. It also keeps the striae and interstices healthy by regulating their opening and closing. When the striae and interstices can open and close properly, the wei qi is harmonious and the exterior can protect the body from an invasion of external pathogenic evils. When the wei qi is insufficient, the exterior is not warmed and flushed, the skin loses its luster and becomes unhealthy, and the striae and interstices are not regulated, so they do not open and close properly, which leaves the fleshy exterior insecure and vulnerable to external pathogenic invasions.

The Su Wen (ping re bing lun) says, “For evil to encroach, the qi must be vacuous.”

In the Yu Ping Feng San pattern of illness, there may be latent pathogenic external wind that has become lodged in the body’s exterior since the wei qi is deficient and unable to warm and flush the fleshy exterior. The pathogenic wind that is not dispersed and released from the exterior stays lodged and latent. Further, when the wei qi is deficient and the fleshy exterior insecure, we know that the body is vulnerable to external pathogenic invasion and there will be an aversion to wind. Therefore, characteristics of the Yu Ping Feng San pattern are the tendency to have recurring external pathogenic invasions, i.e. frequent colds and an aversion to wind.

When the striae and interstices are insecure at the exterior, they do not open and close properly. Qi leaks and causes spontaneous sweating. This type of sweating is a form of leakage that will damage the qi and contribute to a further deficiency. Spontaneous sweating and a pale, shiny complexion are more characteristics of the Yu Ping Feng San pattern.

To treat this pattern of wei qi deficiency we need to boost qi, warm yang, eliminate wind, and secure the exterior.


Yu Ping Feng San

Astragalus / Huang Qi / 黃耆 Sweet, slightly warm

Atractylodes / Bai Zhu / 白朮 Bitter, sweet, warm, aromatic

Siler / Fang Feng / 防風 Acrid, sweet, warm


Yu Ping Feng San includes three herb medicinals.

Huang Qi is a middle-grade herb that has a sweet taste, a slightly warm property, and enters the lung and spleen. It is an herb that strongly tonifies the qi and boosts the yang qi. It is used in Yu Ping Feng San to strengthen the middle jiao, tonify qi, and raise the yang to the fleshy exterior where it secures and stabilizes the wei qi.

Bai Zhu is a heaven grade herb that has a bitter and sweet flavor, a warm and aromatic property, and enters the spleen and stomach. Its sweet flavor strengthens the earth element, its bitter flavor dries dampness, and its aromatic quality stimulates the spleen to promote its transformation and transportation. These qualities make Bai Zhu an important medicinal herb for strengthening the spleen and stomach when there is dampness hindering the middle jiao. It is used in Yu Ping Feng San to tonify the spleen and augment the qi and secure the exterior to stop sweating.

Bai Zhu has the action to stop spontaneous sweating. It enters the earth element to dry and disinhibit dampness in the flesh which causes an imbalance and disharmony of the defensive (ying) qi and protective (wei) qi.

Fang Feng is a heaven grade herb that has an acrid, sweet flavor, a warm property, and enters the bladder, liver, and spleen. It expels wind, but it does so in a moderate and gentle fashion because it is the moistest of the wind-dispelling herbs and causes less damage to the fluids than other wind-dispelling medicinal herbs.

Fang Feng can be used to treat any type of pathogenic wind affecting the body in any pattern and at any level of the body. One of its special medicinal characteristics is its ability to expel wind in the deep levels of the body. It is used in Yu Ping Feng San to eliminate latent pathogenic wind and to guard against external pathogenic wind invasion.

The combination of Huang Qi and Bai Zhu tonify the earth and metal elements, namely the spleen, stomach, and lungs. Bai Zhu strengthens the earth element and generates metal. Fang Feng circulates the exterior to dispel any pathogenic wind that has penetrated the surface.

The traditional indications for Yu Ping Feng San include aversion to wind, spontaneous sweating, recurring external pathogenic invasion (colds), a shiny pale complexion, pale tongue with a white coating, and a floating soft deficient pulse.

Modern indications include common colds, influenza, bronchial asthma, hyperhidrosis, allergic rhinitis, chronic rhinitis, immune deficiency, chronic urticaria, and susceptibility to the common cold where the pattern presentation is appropriate.

Yu Ping Feng San is a commonly used formula used to improve immunity. It has been used as a preventative formula during health crises such as the SARS epidemic and it is now being used again in the coronavirus pandemic where it is often modified by adding herbs that can further address the epidemic toxin.

Some examples include:

Yu Ping Feng San + mulberry leaf (sang ye), (chrysanthemum) ju hua

Yu Ping Feng San + Morus and Chrysanthemum Combination (Sang Ju Yin)

Yu Ping Feng San + honeysuckle flower (jin yin hua), forsythia fruit (lian qiao)

Yu Ping Feng San + Lonicera and Forsythia Formula (Yin Qiao San)

Modern biomedical indications include recurrent upper respiratory tract infections, glomerulonephritis, allergic rhinitis, chronic urticaria, and bronchial asthma. The application of Yu Ping Feng San for these biomedically-defined disorders will follow a differential diagnosis that identifies the proper Chinese medicine Yu Ping Feng San pattern. In other words, we won’t use Yu Ping Feng San for these conditions when the pattern doesn’t fit the formula.

Yu Ping Feng San’s therapeutic actions can be enhanced through formula modifications.

Common modifications include:

● Allergic rhinitis: add magnolia flower (xin yi hua), xanthium (cang er zi), angelica (bai zhi), or combine with Xanthium Combination (cang er zi san).

● Excessive sweating: add oyster shell (mu li), wheat (fu xiao mai), and schizandra (wu wei zi).

● Aversion to wind: add cinnamon twig (gui zhi).

● To enhance immune function: add ligustrum (nu zhen zi), epimedium (yin yang huo), and ganoderma (reishi), or add Gu Ben (IM-401).

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