Bai Zhu – White Atractylodes rhizome

Nature: bitter, sweet, warm

Enters: Spleen, Stomach

Actions: Tonifies spleen Qi; dries dampness; promotes urination; stabilizes the exterior, stops sweating; calms the fetus; resolves water retention and phlegm.

• Spleen (or stomach) Qi deficiency with dampness: diarrhea, fatigue, distention in the epigastric region and abdomen, poor appetite, vomiting, constipation.
• Failure of the spleen to transform and transport food: retention of water and dampness: edema, cough, difficult breathing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, reduced urination.
• Auxiliary herb for damp Bi syndrome.
• Spleen Qi deficiency leading to failure of the Wei Qi to control the pores: spontaneous sweating.
• Spleen Qi deficiency: threat of miscarriage.
• For constipation due to spleen Q deficiency and dampness, use 30g Bai zhu alone.
• Elevates prothrombin time.
• Use raw to dry dampness and promote urination.
• Dry-fry to strengthen the spleen and tonify Qi.
• Scorch to strengthen the spleen and stop diarrhea.
Li: Very warm and dry.
PFGC: Increases the appetite, enhances processing of ingested food.
• Best herb for tonifying spleen Qi (Yang).
• Controls excessive sweating due to spleen dampness.
• Can stimulate sweating because a strong spleen will facilitate sweating if there is a need for it.
• All disorders involving water accumulation and dampness will resolve when the spleen is built up.
Bai zhu should not be used in excessive cold-damp when water pathogens drown the entire central region of the body (must tonify kidney Yang).
• Unprocessed, it can disperse blood between the lumbar region and umbilicus that runs disorderly in the vessels and causes Qi counterflow and internal distress.
• Treats weakness or pain in the extremities caused by a dilapidated spleen.
• With rising and dispersing herbs, it can regulate the liver.
• With sedating herbs, it can nourish the heart.
• With cooling, moistening herbs, it can tonify the Lungs.
• With herbs that moisten Yin, it can tonify the kidney system.
DY: Disperses swelling.
Bai zhu is incompatible with black carp, peaches, plums, coriander, and Chinese cabbage.
• To fortify the spleen and supplement the Qi, bran stir-fried Bai zhu is prescribed. To dry dampness and disinhibit urination, unccoked Bai zhu is used.
• With Fu ling, the two herbs reinforce each other to effectively supplement the spleen and dry dampness, percolate dampness, and disinhibit urination. For such indications as:
– 1. Edema due to accumulation of dampness, due in turn to spleen deficiency. (Bai Zhu San)
– 2. Fatigue, weakness in the limbs, lack of appetite, loose stools or diarrhea caused by spleen deficiency with accumulation of dampness. (Shen Ling Bai Zhu San)
– 3. Vertigo, blurred vision, and/or heart palpitations due to phlegm-dampness. (Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang)
– 4. Chronic cough due to phlegm-dampness and spleen deficiency. (Liu Jun Zi Tang)
• With Huang qin to clear heat stirring the fetus, dry dampness, and fortify the spleen to contain the blood and the fetus. For uterine bleeding during pregnancy, threatened miscarriage, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy caused by heat or damp-heat associated with spleen deficiency which is incapable of containing the blood within the vessels. For these indications, the Bai zhu should be bran stir-fried, and the Huang qin should be stir-fried until scorched.
• With Zhi shi to supplement without producing stagnation and drain without damaging the correct Qi, to fortify the spleen, disperse food stagnation, and effectively eliminate accumulations and distention. For the following indications, except as otherwise indicated, the two herbs should be stir-fried:
– 1. Accumulation of food, distention and fullness of the abdomen and epigastrium, and difficult bowel movements due to spleen Qi deficiency and Qi stagnation. (Zhi Zhu Wan) When the patient’s main complaint is abdominal and epigastric distention due to Qi deficiency and spleen deficiency with or without dampness, the dosage for Bai zhu should be very high – as much as 100g per day. In this case Bai zhu is generally used alone.
– 2. Splenomegaly and hepatomegaly due to Qi deficiency and stagnation.
– 3. Ptosis of the organs (stomach, uterus, and anus) due to central Qi deficiency. For these indications, honey mix-fried Huang qi, stir-fried Chai hu, and honey mix-fried Sheng ma should be added.
Dong bai zhu is Bai zhu harvested in the winter. Instead of having a drying nature, it has a moistening one. It fortifies spleen Yang and nourishes spleen Yin, moistens the intestines, and treats constipation.
Hsu: Pronounced and long-lasting diuretic effect; sedative; lowers blood sugar; stomachic.

Dose: 4.5-9g

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