Contemporary Applications of Shi Quan Da Bu Tang

By John Chen, PhD, PharmD, OMD, LAc

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang (All-Inclusive Great Tonifying Decoction) is one of the most commonly used herbal formulas today. Historically, it was used to treat qi and blood accompanied by yang deficiency and cold manifestations. The original source is from the Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang(Imperial Grace Formulary of the Tai Ping Era). Today, the formula is used to successfully treat many disorders. To achieve optimal therapeutic outcome, it is critically important to learn beyond the traditional aspect of this formula. Understanding pharmacological effect, clinical studies and research, toxicology, and herb-drug interactions will greatly empower practitioners to select the best herbal formula for treatment.

The source text states to grind equal amounts of the ingredients into a coarse powder. Cook 6 g of the powder with three slices of sheng jiang (Rhizoma zingiberis recens) and two pieces of da zao (Fructus jujubae) in one large bowl of water until the liquid is reduced to 70 percent. Take the warm decoction any time during the day. 

ren shen (Radix et rhizoma ginseng) 8 g
bai zhu (Rhizoma atractylodis macrocephalae), bei (stone-baked) 10 g
fu ling (Poria), bei 8 g
zhi gan cao (Radix et rhizoma glycyrrhizae praeparata cum melle) 5 g
shu di huang (Radix rehmanniae praeparata), xi (washed) with liquor, zheng (steamed) and bei 8-15 g
dang gui (Radix angelicae sinensis), xi 10 g
bai shao (Radix paeoniae alba) 8 g
chuan xiong (Rhizoma chuanxiong) 5 g
huang qi (Radix astragali) 15 g
rou gui (Cortex cinnamomi), do not expose to heat 8 g

This formula treats deficiencies of qi and blood accompanied by yang deficiency and cold manifestations: lassitude, low appetite, pale face, palpitations, insomnia, dizziness and intolerance to cold. It warms and tonifies qi and blood. It also treats general deficiency of the body: deficient cough, poor appetite, sallow appearance, weakness of the legs and knees, chronic ulcers or prolonged healing of wounds, and seminal emissions in men and beng lou (flooding and spotting) in women.

Ren shen, bai zhu, fu ling and zhi gan cao tonify qi. Shu di huang, dang gui, bai shao and chuan xiong nourish the blood. Huang qi tonifies qi and lifts yang qi to improve the general body condition. This herb also helps to speed wound healing. Rou gui warms yang and dispels cold. Because Shi Quan Da Bu Tang is a warm formula, it is contraindicated in patients with heat or excess conditions.

Herbal Medicine - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark For malnutrition, and emaciation with poor appetite, add shan yao (Rhizoma dioscoreae) and qian shi (Semen euryales). With sores and abscesses caused by qi and blood deficiencies, add zhi qiao (Fructus aurantii), xiang fu (Rhizoma cyperi) and lian qiao (Fructus forsythiae). With fatigue and general aches and pains, add gui zhi (Ramulus cinnamomi) and ban xia (Rhizoma pinelliae). With general weakness and deficiency, combine with Xiao Jian Zhong Tang (Minor Construct the Middle Decoction). With fatigue due to spleen deficiency, combine with gui pi gang (Restore the Spleen Decoction). With palpitations, combine with yang xin tang (Nourish the Heart Decoction).

Chronic atrophic gastritis: Modified Shi Quan Da Bu Tang was used to treat 54 patients of chronic atrophic gastritis with good success. The herbs were administered in decoction twice daily in the morning and at night. The treatment period was six months for one course of treatment. The overall effectiveness rate was 98.15 percent.1

Gastric prolapse: Concurrent treatment using acupuncture and herbs was found to be very effective in the treatment of gastric prolapse characterized by deficiencies of qi and blood with zhong (central) qi collapse. The treatment protocol for herbs was to administer Shi Quan Da Bu Tang for a total of 70 doses. Out of 15 patients, the study reported complete recovery in four patients, improvement in 10, and no benefit for one.2

Post-surgical recovery: Administration of Shi Quan Da Bu Tang has marked beneficial effects on gastric cancer patients during the postoperative recovery by improving interleukin-2 reactivity, natural killer (NK) activity, nutritional index and bone mineral indices.3

Cancer: According to one report that screened and evaluated 116 herbal formulas for treatment of cancer, Shi Quan Da Bu Tang was determined to be the most effective. Clinical benefits of Shi Quan Da Bu Tang included extremely low toxicity, self-regulatory and synergistic actions of its components in immuno-modulatory and immuno-potentiating effects, enhanced therapeutic activity in chemotherapy and radiotherapy, inhibited recurrence of malignancies, prolonged survival and reduced adverse toxicities of many anticancer drugs.4

Anemia: Administration of Shi Quan Da Bu Tang effectively increased hemoglobin, red blood cells and platelets in 41 patients with post-surgical proteinemia.5

Meniere's syndrome: In one study, 27 patients with Meniere's syndrome were treated with modified Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, with good results. The herbs were administered in a decoction once daily, for a total of six to 24 doses. Out of 27 patients, the study reported recovery in 23 patients (asymptomatic with no recurrences for six months), a marked effect in three patients and no benefit for one patient.6

Sheehan's syndrome: Continuous administration of modified Shi Quan Da Bu Tang for two months was effective in alleviating signs and symptoms in seven patients with Sheehan's syndrome. The herbal treatment was based on Shi Quan Da Bu Tang, with addition of yi mu cao (Herba leonuri), yin yang huo (Herba epimedii) and zi he ghe (Placenta hominis), and the removal of huang qi (Radix astragali).7

Shwachman's syndrome: Use of Shi Quan Da Bu Tang was associated with beneficial effects in patients with Shwachman's syndrome, a rare disease characterized by a decreased ability to digest food because the cells of the pancreas do not work properly.8


  1. He Bei Zhong Yi (Hebei Chinese Medicine) 1987;6:16.
  2. Fu Jian Zhong Yi Yao (Fujian Chinese Medicine and Herbology) 1985;3:19.
  3. Horie Y, Kato K, Kameoka S, Hamano K. Bu ji (hozai) for treatment of postoperative gastric cancer patients. Am J Chin Med 1994;22(3-4):309-19.
  4. Zee-Cheng RK. Shi-quan-da-bu-tang (Ten Significant Tonic Decoction), SQT. A potent Chinese biological response modifier in cancer immunotherapy, potentiation and detoxification of anticancer drugs. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1992 Nov;14(9):725-36.
  5. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi (Journal of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine) 1989;10:622.
  6. Guang Xi Zhong Yi Yao (Guangxi Chinese Medicine and Herbology) 1987;1:14.
  7. Liao Ning Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Liaoning Journal of Chinese Medicine) 1987;1:22.
  8. Hisha H, Kohdera U, Hirayama M, et al. Treatment of Shwachman syndrome by Japanese herbal medicine (Juzen-taiho-to): stimulatory effects of its fatty acids on hemopoiesis in patients. Stem Cells 2002;20(4):311-9.

Click here for previous articles by John Chen, PhD, PharmD, OMD, LAc.

Page printed from: