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Acupuncture Today – December, 2004, Vol. 05, Issue 12

Cha Dao: The Way of Tea

Camellia Sinensis (Cha) Use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part Two: TCM Herbal Cha Decoctions

By Brenton Harvey, LAc, CH and Hong Ji

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbal decoctions using cha date back to the San Guo dynasty (also known as the Shi Dai dynasty), which occurred between 25 AD and 220 AD.

The classic text Guang Ya was written by Zhang.

This book discusses tea picking, tea cakes (tea pressed into bricks), drinking tea, and using tea as a topical skin treatment. The use of cha with fresh ginger and green onions to cure drunkenness was referenced.

Traditionally, it was common and very practical to sun-dry the herbs, then grind them into a powder to be added to boiled water. This is referred to as a "draft" in TCM. Many of the early cha herbal formulas were prepared and taken in this manner.

TCM Herbal Cha Formulas

A. Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San (most well-known cha formula)

  • Radix ligustici W. (chuan xiong), 120 grams
  • Flos schizonepetae (jing jie), 120 grams
  • Angelicae dahuricae (bai zhi), 60 grams
  • Notopterygii (qiang huo), 60 grams
  • Radix glycyrrhizaea (gan cao), 60 grams
  • Herba asari (xi xin), 30 grams
  • Radix ledebouriellae (fang feng), 45 grams
  • Herba menthe (bo he) ["never touch fire"], 8 grams

Preparation: Grind into powder, take in 6 gram doses with green tea beverage after a meal.

Function: Clears head, wind headache, chills, fever, vision, sinus, phlegm, excessive floating pulses. Nature of tea: bitter, cooling, nourishing, and clearing to the head. The cooling effect of the cha counteracts warming herbs.

Treats: Exopathic wind cold to alleviate pain, aversion to cold, nervousness, migraine headache, fever, dizziness, nasal obstruction, thin white tongue coating, floating pulse.

B. Four Related Formulas

1. Cha Tiao San

  • Radix scutellariae (haung qin), sliced, cooked three times in wine, 60 grams
  • Radix ligustici W. (xiao chuan xiong), 30 grams
  • Spring green tea (ya cha), 9 grams
  • Radix angelicae dahuricae (bai zhi), 15 grams
  • Herba menthe (bo he), 15 grams
  • Flos schizonepetae (jing jie), 12 grams

Preparation: Grind into powder, take 2-3 grams per dose in tea beverage.

Function: Wind heat invasion headache.

Analysis: Huang qin was added to chuan xiong cha tiao san; the warming herbs qiang huo, xi xin and fang feng, and harmonizing tonification herb gan cao were subtracted.

2. Ju Hua Cha Tiao San

  • Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San plus:
  • Flos chrysanthemum (ju hua)
  • Bombyx batryticatus (jiang can)

Preparation: Grind into powder, take with green tea.

Function : Both additional herbs clear wind heat and treat headache pain.

Analysis: Modifies chuan xiong cha tiao san for wind heat invasion and headache pain caused by muscle spasms with underlying internal wind.

3. Cang Er Zi San

  • Flos magnoliae (xin yi), 15 grams
  • Fructus xanthii (cang er zi), 7.5 grams
  • Radix angelica dahurciae (bai zhi), 30 grams
  • Herba menthe (bo he), 1.5 grams

Preparation: Grind into powder, 6 grams per dose, take with green tea.

Function: Expels pathogenic wind and promotes restoration of consciousness, treats rhinorrhea, stuffy nose, with turbid discharge without stopping and headache of forehead.

Analysis: A rather simple yet effective formula to concentrate on clearing the sinuses.

4. Chuan Xiong Cha San

  • Radix ligustici W. (chuan xiong), 3 grams
  • Tea (cha), 6 grams

Preparation: Makes one dose.

Function : Stops pain caused by wind cold attacking head, nasal blockage and dizziness, to migraines and arthralgia of the extremities.

Analysis: A very simple crude formula used for wind invasion.

Click here for previous articles by Brenton Harvey, LAc, CH.

Click here for more information about Hong Ji.

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