What is Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang??

Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang

The formula you’ve never heard about to soothe America in 2020/21


Since the many events of 2020 our culture has been through a lot, to say the least. All too commonly patients are presenting with a whole new (or enhanced) set of symptoms, resulting at least in part, from all the tumultuous shifts in our external environment. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and burn-out are all on the rise. Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang or Bupleurum Powder to Spread the Liver has been in use for the last 400 years and might be making a comeback!

This formula consists of seven herbs. Like any Chinese herbal remedy, it may be modified by the addition or subtraction of herbs to make a custom formula for the consumer’s individual symptoms. The actions of this formula are to “spread and regulate Liver Qi” as well as to “harmonize the Blood and relieve pain”. The Liver, in TCM, is the organ most easily disrupted by stress and overwhelm. A disturbed Liver might manifest as many clinical symptoms not limited to the ones here mentioned:

  • Disturbed sleep and insomnia
  • Feeling wired and fatigued
  • Forgetting to breathe/breath holding
  • Flank or rib pain or tension
  • PMS
  • Irritability or fluctuating emotions
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Stomach or GI issues/pains worse with stress


This formula has been in several studies over the years. One study found 96.7% effectiveness in patients with chronic insomnia. Of the 30 patients, 26 reported total amelioration of their sleeplessness, improvement in 3, and no change in only one patient (Zhong, Yi, Ming, …). A meta-analysis in 2018 of 42 different trials totaling over 3,000 patients showed statistically significant improvement in their depression with the use of this formula.

“Meta analyses showed better effect of Chai Hu Shu Gan San than fluoxetine for pure depression […], for post-stroke depression […], and for postpartum depression[…]. None of the articles reported severe adverse events of oral administration of Chai Hu Shu Gan San. Furthermore, any adverse effects of using Chai Hu Shu Gan San alone were fewer than those of regular Western medicines.”(Sun,Xu,Zhang,Chen)

So, fellow Americans, consider Chai Hu Shu Gan next time you’re feeling too restless to sleep or when the current circumstances have you down n’ out. It is here to help you feel free and easy again.

Written by Ashley

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash


Yan Sun, Xia Xu, Jinping Zhang, and Yuanyuan Chen. (2018, February 17). Treatment of depression with Chai Hu Shu Gan San: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 42 randomized controlled trials. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5816377/

Zhong, Yi, Ming, Fang, Lin, Xuang, Xin, Yong (Contemporary Clinical Apllications of Classic Chinese Formulas)v2001;575