The Anti-Aging Herbal Formula

By John Chen, PhD, PharmD, OMD, LAc

Huan Shao Dan (Return to Youth Pill) is one of the best kidney tonic formulas. Historically, it was used to treat spleen and kidney deficiencies. Today, it is used to successfully treat many premature aging conditions. The pinyin name is Huan Shao Dan, which translates as Return to Youth Pill. Some alternate names include Huan Shao Tan, Youth-Returning Formula, Lycium Formula. The original source for Huan Shao Dan is in Yang Shi Mi Fang (Secret Formulas of the Yang Family). For additional information, please visit

Grind the ingredients into powder and mix with honey to form pills. The pills should resemble the size of wu tong zi (Semen firmianae), a small seed approximately 5 mm in diameter. Take 30 pills per dose, three times daily on an empty stomach with a warm, grain-based liquor and/or warm, salted water. The source text states that improvement will be noted after five to 30 days of continuous use. It also states that this formula is safe for long-term use.

rou cong rong (Herba cistanches) 30g
ba ji tian (Radix morindae officinalis) 30g
xiao hui xiang (Fructus foeniculi) 30g
shu di huang (Radix rehmanniae praeparata) 15g
shan zhu yu (Fructus corni), soaked in liquor for one night and stone-baked 30g
gou qi zi (Fructus lycii) 15g
du zhong (Cortex eucommiae), fried with liquor and the juice of fresh ginger 30g
niu xi (Radix achyranthis bidentatae), soaked in liquor for one night and stone-baked 45g
fu ling (Poria) 30g
shan yao (Rhizoma dioscoreae) 45g
wu wei zi (Fructus schisandrae chinensis) 30g
yuan zhi (Radix polygalae) 30g
shi chang pu (Rhizoma acori tatarinowii) 30g
da zao (Fructus jujubae) 15g
chu shi zi (Fructus broussonetiae) 30g


Huan Shao Dan strengthens the spleen, stomach, kidney and heart. It also tonifies qi, blood and jing (essence), and warms yang. It treats premature aging in both men and women. Premature aging is commonly caused by excessive consumption of qi, blood, yang and jing with underlying deficiencies of the spleen, stomach, heart and kidney. Spleen and stomach deficiencies result in an inadequate supply of qi, which manifests in symptoms such as generalized weakness, fatigue, and anorexia. Deficiencies of blood and heart may lead to forgetfulness, being easily frightened, low-grade fever, and night sweats. Lastly, lack of jing is often accompanied by kidney yang deficiency, leading to decreased libido, seminal emissions and other sexual disorders.

Rou cong rong, ba ji tian, and xiao hui xiang strengthen spleen qi and kidney yang. Shu di huang, shan zhu yu and gou qi zi nourish the kidney and benefit qi. Du zhong and niu xi tonify the kidney and strengthen the knees and lower back. Fu ling and shan yao strengthen the spleen and dissolve dampness. Wu wei zi reduces the loss of fluids from the kidney. Yuan zhi tonifies the heart and calms the shen (spirit). Shi chang pu opens the sensory orifices and improves mental functions. Da zao tonifies qi and blood, and strengthens the Lung and spleen. Chu shi zi warms and tonifies yang to strengthen the muscles and bones. Taking the formula with salted water allows the salt to function as a channel-guiding substance to enhance the kidney-tonifying effect of this formula.


If there is lack of appetite, add lian zi (Semen nelumbinis) and qian shi (Semen euryales). With low-grade fever and night sweats, add mai dong (Radix ophiopogonis) and ren shen (Radix et rhizoma ginseng). For fatigue and weakness, add ren shen, huang qi (Radix astragali), and dang gui (Radix angelicae sinensis).


According to one report, use of Huan Shao Dan continuously for one month was associated with occasional side effects such as a dry mouth, constipation and a feeling of warmth in the body. These reactions are limited and will resolve within two to three weeks.1 Use of this formula is contra-indicated during pregnancy.2


  1. Zhong Guo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi (Chinese Journal of Integrative Chinese and Western Medicine) 1992;12(1):20.
  2. Zhong Yao Ming Fang Yao Li Yu Ying Yong (Pharmacology and Applications of Famous Herbal Formulas) 1989;345-6

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