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Theory of diseases treated with White Tiger decoction

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Credit: Theory of diseases treated with White Tiger decoction. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Woodcut illustration from an edition of 1833 (13th year of Daoguang reign period of Qing dynasty). The image and text give an account of the principles of diseases treated with White Tiger decoction, and the therapeutic effects of the individual ingredients of this remedy. White Tiger decoction is used to treat cases where malign Qi has already turned into heat and entered the interior of the body, manifesting as disorders of the yangming channel. The patient is hot and sweaty and very thirsty. S/he is not averse to cold but cannot tolerate heat. The pulse is large and surging, floating and slippery. Therefore gypsum preparations of a pungent, cold nature are used. The pungent sapor can release the muscles; cold can clear heat; the pungent sapor can go outwards; cold can sink downwards. They clear and cure external and internal heat in the whole body. Bitterness is the mother of moisture; bitterness purges fire; moisture relieves dryness. Liquorice and round-grained rice regulate earth and the centre and nourish stomach Qi, balancing the short- and long-term effects of medicines of a cold nature, eliminating malign Qi and preventing healthy Qi from being harmed.


Malign Qi has already turned to heat. It will enter the stomach. Gypsum is used to clear, cool and disperse. Like the mother, it helps regulate dryness, produce saliva and protect the lungs. Liquorice harmonises the stomach. Round-grained rice helps stomach Qi



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