What I made today – Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang – Bupleurum, Oyster Shell & Dragon Bone Decoction

This wonderful formula is the second one Mali the lab is on, see the article on Mali’s arthritis formula. We started this formula when she was having some shifting illness of unknown origin with panting and anxiety symptoms and some back end weakness and back pain. Because Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang is a qi tonic, it pairs well with blood tonic formulas like Mali’s arthritis formula. Where qi moves blood will follow. For cancer patients it pairs well with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang and its modified formulas and I often use the two together.

This is a great formula and very closely related to Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Xiao Chai Hu Tang is probably the number one formula I use in my practice. Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang is a modification of Xiao Chai Hu Tang which adds in five ingredients that help more with heat and anxiety than just Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Both these formulas treat triple burner obstruction, qi deficiency, qi stagnation and are good at releasing the exterior (treating pathogens or autoimmune illnesses).

I could write a book on this formula and its base formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang. So here is a little about them both as it is hard to talk about Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang without talking about Xiao Chai Hu Tang.

What is in this formula?
Chai Hu (bupleurum)
Ban Xia (pinellia)
Gan Cao (licorice)
Sheng Jiang (ginger)
Da Zao (jujube)
Ren Shen (ginseng)
Huang Qin (skullcap)
Da Huang (chinese rubarb root)
Gui Zhi (cinnamon twig)
Fu Ling (poria)
Long Gu (dragon bone aka fossilized bone)
Mu Li (oyster shell)

There are five additional ingredients in this formula that add to Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Da Huang helps to clear heat through the intestine. Gui Zhi works to release the exterior and helps to open the pores, Long Gu and Mu Li anchor the spirit and work with anxiety. Finally Fu Ling transforms dampness and helps with digestive support.

Why would I use Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang instead of Xiao Chai Hu Tang? The main place is when I have a dog or cat who runs very hot or has a lot of anxiety who fits the pattern of triple burner obstruction. I also use this formula with the two herbal additions of Dang Gui and San Qi for hemangiosarcoma.

Repeating some of the information in my article on Xiao Chai Hu Tang, one of the most researched herbals in the world for cancer.

Bupleurum, the main ingredient in this formula, has some amazing cancer fighting abilities. Bupleurum can induce apoptosis or cell death in cancer cells and inhibit cancer cell growth and division. Many studies have been done on this plant especially for lung cancer.

Xiao Chai Hu Tang, called Sho-saiko-to in Japan, has been found effective for lung, liver, renal and prostatic cancers in humans. Xiao Chai Hu Tang directly kills cancer cells, inhibits the formation of blood supplies to these abnormal cells and induces apoptosis. It also stimulates the immune system and the body’s natural responses against cancer.

This is a very powerful but fairly gentle formula. It supports digestion through it’s use of pinellia, ginger, and licorice. In addition, licorice, jujube, and ginseng help support adrenal and immune function in the body.

It is commonly used to treat the Chinese medicine diagnosis of Triple Burner Obstruction (TBO).

Triple Burner what?

I’ll try to go into this a little deeper later but for now here’s a short explanation.

The triple burner in Traditional Chinese Medicine runs down the center line of the body. There is the upper burner which includes the lungs and heart, middle burner with the spleen and liver, and lower burner with the kidneys and urinary bladder.

If the triple Burner is obstructed, yin and yang can not meet and there is a separation of yin and yang in the body. The yin or water of the kidneys needs to come up and cool and mist the lungs and heart, and the yang or fire of the heart needs to descend down and spark the fire of life of the kidneys.

When yin and yang come together you get life. Both these functions happen by passage through the triple burner along the center line of your body. If these functions can not happen, the upper body gets hotter and the lower body gets weaker. If yin and yang can not meet then the body stops working.

Here is another way to look at it. If you look at yang as the chemical reactions in the body which fuel life, and yin as the antioxidant response that makes sure no harmful products are left behind, you can understand how these two relate. You need both for life and you need them to work together. Without the yin antioxidant response we become toxic, without the yang fueling the body we become weak and deficient. If either of these functions stop we are in trouble.

Triple burner obstruction will lead to death – sometimes very quickly, if the obstruction is complete and sudden and sometimes over a longer time, if it happens slowly.

Triple burner obstruction commonly manifests with excess conditions in the front of the body such as coughing, vomiting, anxiety, headache, and/or panting and deficiency or weak conditions in the back of the body such as hind leg weakness and incontinence. There is usually some kind of obstruction in the middle of the body such as a tumor in the liver or spleen, bloated abdomen or back pain.

In western medicine we would characterize triple burner obstruction as being a problem with blood flow, where there is too much blood in the front of the body, not enough in the back, and a pooling or stagnation of blood in the middle. Splenic tumors often fit this pattern because of the amount of blood that gets trapped in the spleen.

Cancers with symptoms of triple burner obstruction often respond well to Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Mostly I use this formula for many cancers with lung metastasis, chest tumors and abdominal tumors especially splenic tumors and lymphoma/lymphosarcoma. However any animal with signs of triple burner obstruction should be put on this formula.

In addition to using this formula for cancers, it can also be very helpful for forms of lung disease, some heart disease, anxiety or vomiting that fit with triple burner obstruction symptoms and some autoimmune diseases. Because of the Ren Shen and Gan Cao in this formula it helps to support the adrenals and can be helpful for Addison’s disease or adrenal fatigue and when there is illness with shifting chills and fevers, although usually I use the base formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang for these conditions. It can be helpful for some seizures, back end weakness, incontinence and back pain especially with a lot of heat or anxiety in the front end. Obstructive and inflammatory kidney disease and some liver disease can also be helped and sometimes completely reversed with these two formulas. I have also used it for stomach/intestinal pain and bloat. Although GDV bloat is an emergency and requires immediate medical intervention.

Both Xiao Chai Hu Tang and Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang are good for disease of unknown origin with shifting symptoms that fit into triple burner obstruction. I often reach for one of these formulas when western medicine can not come up with a good diagnosis. I have called these formulas my “come back from death” formulas because I have had dogs that were clearly spiraling towards death that reversed course and in some cases went on to live many years. These formulas are the closest to a “cure all” I have found but only if the symptoms fit. And they work much better if you can catch symptoms early before an animal is very weak and sick.

This formula is available in my herb shop Kingdom of Basil.

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