Zhi Gan Cao - Honey Fried Licorice Root

TCM Materia Medica

Zhi Gan Cao TCM Herb Classifications and Usages

The TCM herb "zhi gan cao" which in english is "honey fried licorice root", is categorized within the "herbs that tonify qi" functional grouping. It is thought to enter the gall bladder, heart, kidney, large intestine, liver, lung, pericardium, small intestine, spleen, stomach, triple heater and urinary bladder channels and exhibits sweet (gan) and warm (wen) taste/temperature properties.

Dosages and preparations will vary according to each individual and the overall approach of a formula, but generally this herb has the following dosage and/or preparation guidelines:

  • Dosage: 2-12g

Of many possible clinical applications, it may be considered to influence the following issues/symptoms:

  • This preparation increases the qi tonifying aspects of the heart and spleen along with its general harmonizing function within formulas.  See Gan Cao for complete information.

While it may not always be included depending on the manufacturer or herbalist making the formula, zhi gan cao is generally included in the following 22 formulas:

ViewBai Hu Wan (White Tiger Decoction)

In 6 channel theory, Yang ming channel heat or the "4 bigs" - big thirst, big sweat, big thirst, big pulse - accordingly, fever, thirst, profuse sweating, aversion to heat. Many symptoms may fit t…

ViewBa Zheng Wan (Eight Herb Powder for Rectification)

Painful urination when it arises from damp heat syndrome - urinary tract infections, leukorrhea, cystitis. Prostatitis when from damp heat.

ViewBa Zhen Wan (Eight Treasure Combination)

For recovery of qi and blood after acute trauma or accident For frequent heavy menstrual cycles Pale complexion, fatigue, dizziness from qi deficiency Vertigo, palpitations, anxiety from blood def…

ViewBu Fei Er Jiao Wan (Tonify the Lungs Formula with Gelatin)

Lung yin deficiency with strong heat signs and/or bleeding - chronic dry cough, wheezing, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, COPD. Stops bleeding when it arises from lung yin deficiency - …

ViewBu Zhong Yi Qi Wan (Tonify the Middle and Augment the Qi Formula)

Coldness of the limbs, borborygmus with loose stools or diarrhea due to spleen yang deficiency. Spontaneous or easy sweating, general fatigue, changes in appetite due to spleen qi deficiency. Pale …

ViewChai Hu Gui Zhi Tang Wan (Bupleurum and Cinnamon Twig Decoction)

A combination of gui zhi tang and xiao chai hu tang - together they work with both taiyang and shaoyang syndromes - common colds and flu, fever, chills, joint pain, nausea, abdominal/epigastric diste…

ViewChai Hu Shu Gan Wan (Bupleurum Powder to Spread the Liver)

Liver qi stagnation signs - hypochondriac tension, abdominal pain, IBS symptoms Alternating chills and fever.

ViewEr Chen Wan (Two Aged Herbs)

The primary base formula to resolve phlegm damp, particularly in the lungs and GI system - cough (with white mucus), plugged ears, sinus blockage - along with GI symptoms of nausea, vomiting. Upper …

ViewFu Zi Li Zhong Wan (Aconite Regulate Middle Pills)

Spleen yang deficiency resulting in coldness of the limbs and/or interior, borborygmus, and possible loose stools or diarrhea. Feeling full even with small amounts of food, bloating, epigastric/abdo…

ViewGui Pi Wan (Restore the Spleen Formula)

The formula is used to tonify both the spleen and heart which can be damaged from excessive overthinking, compulsions, etc. along with poor dietary habits and stressful lifestyle.   Anxiety, phobias…

ViewGui Zhi Tang Wan (Cinnamon Twig Decoction)

Gan Mao (wind-cold) - Common cold or flu (or related illnesses, asthma, rhinitis, etc.) presenting with fever and chills (unrelieved by sweating), headache, aversion to wind, no desire for fluids, dr…

ViewHuo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan (Agastache Powder to Correct the Qi)

Acute flu or cold symptoms including fever, aversion to cold, headaches, sinus pressure, runny nose. Vomitting and diarrhea from interior damp with possible abdominal cramps or pains.

ViewPing Gan Liu Qi Yin Wan (Dang Gui And Pinellia Combination)

Liver qi stagnation with blood deficiency heat - signs of heat, red eyes, possibly anxiety and/or irritability, etc. along with digestive issues such as gastritis, cirrhosis, cholecystitis, hernia.…

ViewRen Shen Yang Rong Wan (Ginseng Decoction to Nourish the Nutritive Qi)

Tonifies both qi and blood and nourishes the heart and calms the spirit - generally used for weakness from longer term or deep diseases such as cancer and for a host of other conditions affecting a b…

ViewShao Yao Gan Cao Wan (Peony and Licorice Decoction)

Cramping and/or muscle spasms that are due to fluid deficiency. Frozen shoulder, trigger finger. General tightness or cramps especially along the tendons or ligaments. Restless leg syndrome for pa…

ViewSi Jun Zi Tang Wan (Four Gentlemen Teapills)

General qi tonification formula - weak extremities, lassitude, pale face, poor appetite, loose stools. Due to the strenghtening functions can bolster immunity. Spleen qi deficiency is the backdro…

ViewSi Ni San Wan (Frigid Extremities Powder Pills)

Important formula for liver qi stagnation - manifesting as moodiness, depression, cold in the extremities (particularly hands and/or feet), possibly along with other stress signs - mild headaches, te…

ViewSi Ni Tang Wan (Frigid Extremities Formula)

Aversion to cold, very cold limbs, sensations of deep cold, fatigue, lethary resulting from kidney yang deficiency. Diarrhea with undigested food, vomiting, abdominal pain.

ViewWen Dan Wan (Warm the Gallbladder Formula)

Anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other shen disturbances caused by phlegm misting the mind. Seizures, convulsions or other types of involuntary muscle contractions that are caused by phlegm and he…

ViewXiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Wan (Aucklandia, Amomi & Six Gentlemen Pills)

A modified version of the base, zhi zhu wan, which is used to treat qi stagnation and food retention from qi deficiency.  This modification includes herbs which add more movement and damp drying. Di…

ViewXiao Chai Hu Tang Wan (Minor Bupleurum Decoction)

Shao Yang Syndrome (or "lesser yang stage") - alternating fever and chills, hypochondriac pain, irritability, bitter taste in mouth, poor appetite, nausea.  Often used for illnesses (chronic or short…

ViewXiao Yao Wan (Free and Easy Wanderer)

Depression, anxiety, loss of motivation - resulting from liver qi stagnation. Fatigue, bloating, changes in appetite from the combination of spleen qi deficiency with liver qi stagnation. PMS, brea…

As noted above, zhi gan cao is within the herbs that tonify qi functional group. All the herbs in this category are listed below.

(truncated intro "... herbs in this category are generally sweet and rich. they are most often combined with herbs that move and regulate the qi. )".

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