The Use of Ji Xue Teng in Gynecology
By Ban Xiuwen
Translated by Sharon Weizenbaum
Ji Xue Teng was first recorded in the Ben Cao Guan Mu.
It comes from the evergreen wood. There are three types of Ji Xue Tang: 3 leaf Ji Xue Teng, Ya Dou Teng and Kun Ming Ji Xue Teng. In the past there were not many clinical usages deligated to Ji Xue Teng. However, in the 60’s of the 20th century, while gathering and organizing folk remedies, gradually clinical doctors began to pay attention and the application of this herb has become quite broad.
The functions of Ji Xue Teng according to the Ben Cao Guan Mu Shi Yi are as follows:
It strengthens the tendons and bones, stop soreness and pain, treats weakened elderly people, numbness of the hands and feet and paralysis. In men it treats weakness, infertility, nocturnal emission and gonorrhea. In women it treats irregular menstruation, red and white leucorrhea, dry labor, cold womb and infertility. We can see that Ji Xue Teng is a very good herb for treating many types of illnesses of men and women and that it is a very good blood herb. This is generally accepted among doctors.
There are differing ways to look at the function of Ji Xue Teng.
I can be seen as a blood supplementing herb or as an herb that moves the blood. I consider it principally a blood supplementing herb. This is because the taste of it is bitter and sweet and it’s character is warm. The bitter flavor enters the heart and the sweet flavor enters the Spleen. The heart generates the blood and the spleen is the source of transformation of the Qi and blood. Warmth is able to induce development while opening through and moving. The sour flavor is able to consolidate and absorb while restraining. So, it can be said that this herb is able to supplement blood and transform stasis as well as being able to stop bleeding. It has the function of supplementing without causing stasis.
Though Ji Xue Teng is similar to Dan Shen,
Ji Xue Teng tends to be warm and supplementing while Dan Shen tends to be cold and scattering. The two can be combined together. One is warm while the other is cold. One is supplementing while the other is scattering. They are both opposite and complimentary and each one shines more brilliantly in the presence of the other. I like to use these two herbs together in the gynecology clinic and have outlined my use of them clearly below.
Menstruation involves blood and so menstruation pathology is blood pathology. To treat menstrual pathology, one must treat blood. If the Yin is depleted and there is heat in the blood this can give rise to early menstruation. I often use Liang Di Tang with Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen added. Liang Di Tang enriches the Yin and controls fire. It will fill the Yin fluids and cause the empty fire to spontaneously calm and the menstruation to be regulated. Yet, the Yin herbs are often soft and sticky, easily causing stasis so I add Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen. These two herbs supplement while moving and so there will be no worries about the outcome. If there is blood heat Beng Lou or profuse bleeding, I often use Qin Lian Si Wu Tang to clear heat and discharge fire, cool the blood and stop Beng. However, Dang Gui and Chuan Xiong are pungent and warm. Because of this, they can cause movement and easily stoke the fire. When there is blood heat Beng Lou, these herbs are not suitable so I use Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen instead. This way, I can avoid the issue of causing too much movement and stoking the fire while still being able to clear heat, stop Beng and avoid stasis.
Leucorrhea can be divided into white, yellow, red, blue-green, black and five color types. However, when all is said and done, there is just hot and cold and damp and stasis. Therefore, when treating leucorrhea pathology one should first differentiate cold damp from damp heat. Dampness is a Yin pathogen. It’s nature is heavy, turbid, sticky and sluggish. It is easy for it to become knotted with blood and lead to stasis. When there is red or white leucorrhea, this is a pathology of mutual knotting of damp stasis. If this belongs to the category of damp heat, then use Zhi Dai Fang to clear and disinhibit while resolving toxin. When there is cold damp you can use Fu Zi Tang to warmly transform and stop leucorrhea. However, if it is red, you must stop bleeding. It does not matter if there is damp heat or damp cold. In either case add Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen. The dampness will be dispelled, the stasis transformed and the leucorrhea will be cured.
3.The illnesses of pregnancy
When a patient has pathology during pregnancy, as a rule you will differentiate the pattern and treat according the patient’s over all presentation. However, when you treat, you must integrate treating the illness with calming the fetus. To do this, supplementing the Kidney and fortifying the Spleen is the main focus. This is because the Kidneys govern hibernation and tether the fetal source and the Spleen is the source of the generation and transformation of Qi and blood and the postnatal root. The fetal source is naturally calmed when the Spleen and Kidneys are healthy and vigorous. If the Kidneys are deficient than the fetus will be restless and move. I often use Shou Tai Wan with the addition of Ji Xue Teng to supplement the Kidney and calm the fetus, nourish the blood and prevent dripping. Often slippery fetus, I use Tai Shan Pan Shi San. I take out the Dang Gui and Chuan Xiong because they are pungent and moving. In their place I use Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen. The way, the formula supplements and gathers the Qi and supplements the blood and does not stoke the fire.
4.Post partum illnesses
When a woman is newly post partum, generally her Qi and blood are depleted yet, on the other hand, because there is wounding in birth, blood leaves the channels. Because there is both a lot of deficiency and a lot of stasis, the treatment principle must take into consideration the special characteristics of deficiency mixed with stasis. In choosing formulas and herbs there may be a cold presentation that contains heat or a hot presentation with some cold. You may want to supplement without causing stasis or scatter and open while protecting the spleen. When there is a fever in a post partum woman, this can be due to blood deficiency, blood stasis or external influences. When the fever is due to blood deficiency then one should primarily boost and supplement the Qi and blood with Sheng Yu Tang. The Sheng Di Huang should be removed with Ji Xue Teng and Yi Mu Cao added instead. This will supplement and boost without causing stasis to reside. When the fever is due to blood stasis, one should lay equal stress on generating blood and transforming stasis. In this case use Sheng Hua Tang, adding Ji Xue Teng and Dan Shen. This will dispel stasis and protect the righteous. Then Ying and Wei will be harmonized, the Qi and blood will be flowing through smoothly and the fever will recede.
Ji Xue Teng is a relatively good blood herb.
It can be used not only in gynecology illness but is also brilliant for other types of blood level pathology. It possesses the quality of Dang Gui in that it will supplement and vitalize the blood but it does not have Dang Gui’s characteristic of moving about and stoking fire. It’s character levels that which is acute and the effectiveness is wonderful.