Updated: Feb 2, 2022
Yu Ping Feng San is one of the classical formulas of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It's a beautiful, ancient, precise little powerhouse of a formula, and I'm thrilled to share it with you. It is comprised of just three herbs, one of them enhanced by way of the equally ancient practice of Pao zhi.
Honey-fried Astragalus membranaceus (Huang Qi)
Atractylodes macrocephala (Bai Zhu)
Saposhnikovia divaricata (Fang Feng)
Let's do a little TCM vocabulary here to help me explain the wonders of this formula.
TCM is the commonly used acronym for Traditional Chinese Medicine, which dates at least as far back as the Han Dynasty (168BC-8AD), when the Pen T'sao of Shen Nong (the very first materia medica) and the Huang-Di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine) were written. My study and understanding of these ancient texts lead me to believe that God authored and fostered the plants, people, and understanding of this beautiful system of holistic healing. It is my calling and great honor to share it with you.
Pao Zhi (pow jher) is the practice of altering the therapeutic properties of an herb through some method (or several successive methods) of processing. In this case, I utilized a technique called Chao Fa to stir-fry the Huang Qi in honey. This increases the herb's action on the Spleen and on Qi, both of which affect the strength of the immune system.
Wei Qi (way chee), also known as Protective Qi, is the body's first line of defense against external pathogens. The more we can strengthen our Wei Qi, the fewer successful attacks on our immune system, and the fewer illnesses we experience. In TCM, the Wei Qi is controlled by the Lungs. The Lungs, as the only Organ having direct contact with the outer world, are therefore vulnerable to attack.
(Remember, capitalized Organ Systems in TCM are not exactly the same as anatomical organs. Go with the flow here, and don't be surprised when an Organ System is responsible for more than an anatomical organ. I'll explain as necessary.)
Wind Evils, either Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold, are external attacks on the Wei Qi. When you are fighting off a bug and your symptoms include chills, aversion to cold, stiffness (especially of the neck), headache, and white or clear-colored phlegm, you are experiencing a Wind-Cold Invasion. When your symptoms include sore throat, feeling warm and/or agitated (whether or not there is a fever), yellow or green-colored phlegm, and aversion to heat, you are in the midst of a Wind-Heat Invasion. These are two of several External Pernicious Influences.
On its own, Huang Qi is an immunomodulator of great fame. It is useful for those who experience profuse and spontaneous sweating, frequent colds and flu, or chronic immune deficiency (including that from chemotherapy). It's a wonderful herb, often used in formula with elderberry for immune defense. The challenge is that on its own, Huang Qi, by the same action that stops sweating, can lock in pathogens during the acute phase of a Wind attack. Thus, herbalists urge people to discontinue its use, either alone or in formula, at the onset of fever and/or chills. This is unfortunate, because astragalus does many of the things we want an herb to accomplish during a Wind-Heat or Wind-Cold Invasion. Huang Qi strengthens the Spleen. It raises the Yang Qi of the Spleen and Stomach. It tonifies the Wei Qi and stabilizes the exterior.
Here's where things get exciting. Huang Qi, when combined with Fang Feng, stabilizes the exterior without trapping the pathogenic influence. Remember that we want to stabilize the exterior. It's what keeps the External Pernicious Influences from becoming internal. We needed a way to stabilize without trapping, and here we are. On its own, Fang Feng releases the exterior and expels External Wind (yay!), but when combined with Huang Qi, it prevents Wind from penetrating the skin in the first place.
I know I get nerdy about these things, but I see such beauty in plants. It's as if they were created to work, separately and together, in your body for your good. It's as if you are dearly loved.
The third herb in the trio is Atractylodes (Bai zhu). On its own, Bai zhu strengthens the Spleen, tonifies Qi, stabilizes the exterior and stops sweating. All good, right? Right. When Bia zhu is combined with Huang Qi and Fang Feng, it is also useful for expelling External Wind Pathogens.
Altogether, this formula
Tonifies the Wei Qi and stabilizes the Exterior
Stops spontaneous sweating (resulting from Qi Deficiency)
Disperses and Expels External Wind Pathogens
Is safe for those with autoimmune conditions
This is a fabulous formula to add to your Winter Wellness collection. I take one dose on days I am staying at home and two doses on days I am interacting with clients, friends, or the public at large.