Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six Gentlemen Formula)

Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six Gentlemen Formula)There are a few different versions of Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six Gentlemen Formula) in Chinese herbal remedies. But it is generally acknowledged that the version from Yi Xue Zheng Zhuan (Orthodox Medical Record) is the most used one. So, the following discussion will start with it only.

What is Liu Jun Zi Tang?

It has a few different names like Liu Junzi Tang, Six gentlemen Teapills, Six Gentlemen Decoction, and Six Noble Combination because of the translation differences.

Consumption history

The earliest recorded use of this formula was in 16th century. A herbalist named Chen Zi Ming in Song dynasty compiled a medical book of Jiao Zhu Fu Ren Liang Fang (Collation and Annotation of Effective Prescriptions for Women), in which then it was incorporated. Later Liu Jun Zi Wan and Tang were also mentioned in a few other famous TCM works like Yi Xue Zheng Zhuan. That is to say, its history begins more than six hundred years ago. It is one of the few highly-regarded TCM prescriptions so that a lot of insightful researches have been done to verify its remarkable functions on a series of conditions like dyspepsia.

Herbal ingredients

Ren Shen – Radix Ginseng
Zhi Gan Cao – Honey Fried Licorice Root
Fu Ling – Poria
Bai Zhu – Atractylodes Macrocephala
Chen Pi – Tangerine Peel
Ban Xia – Pinellia Rhizome

Main indications

Main functions of this herbal prescription are to tonify spleen, benefit vital energy, eliminate dampness, and transform phlegm. Main usage and indications include dyspepsia, loss of appetite, excessive amount of phlegm due to Qi deficiency, cough, weak limbs, abdominal distension, and loose stools, or accompanied with belch occasionally.

Today’s research shows that it is capable of regulating gastroenteric movement and releasing spasm of gastrointestinal smooth muscle. And it also regulates abnormal intestinal motility due to chills and fever. In addition, it also inhibits gastric mucosal lesion, regulate gastrointestinal secretory function, and regulate body immunity function.

Mechanism behind this formula

According to the theory of monarch, minister, assistant and guide, different Chinese herbs perform different jobs.

(1). Ren Shen in this formula is the monarch herb as it reinforces vital energy and tonifies spleen;

(2). Bai Zhu is the ministerial drug, which is to tonify spleen and dry dampness due to spleen preferring dryness to dampness. Strength of tonifying spleen is thus enhanced with the combination with Ren Shen;

(3). Fu Ling, Ban Xia, and Chen Pi are adjuvant drugs to improve the function of the spleen to increase the excretion of water;

(4). Gan Cao is a guiding drug to harmonize all the herbs used above.

Probably you will find that only two more herbs of Chen Pi and Ban Xia are added, compared with Si Jun Zi Tang, which is the foundation of plenty of subsequent Chinese herbal formulas exclusively for deficiency of spleen and stomach Qi, such as BU PI Yi Chang Wan (Tonify Spleen and Invigorate Intestines Formula) and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang (Ginseng and Astragalus Combination) mentioned in previous posts.

But they are not exchangeable as they have different priorities respectively.

(1). Liu Jun Zi is suitable for weakness of spleen and stomach accompanied with obvious phlegm and retained fluid; 

(2). Si Jun Zi prefers Qi deficiency with light phlegm and retained fluid;

(3). Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six Gentlemen Decoction with Aucklandia and Amomum Combination) is specialized at stomachache and diarrhea due to deficient cold;

(4). Qi Wei Bai Zhu San (Seven Flavors Atractylodes Powder) is good at fever, thirst, and diarrhea due to spleen deficiency.

Possible side effects and contraindications

This formula is quite mild and considered with no side effects. It is suitable for a variety of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract even though in long-term use. But some believes that its adverse reaction remains unclear yet. TCM wise, it should not to be taken in Yin deficiency of spleen-stomach and during pregnancy. If taken improperly, main clinical manifestations like dryness of the mouth, red tongue with little saliva, and constipation may follow.


  1. Yi Xue Zheng Zhuan (Orthodox Medical Record) (Volume 3);
  2. Shi Yi De Xiao Fang (Effective Formulas Tested by Physicians for Generations) (Volume 5);
  3. Song Ya Zun Sheng Shu (Volume 8);
  4. Zhu Shi Ji Yan Fang (Volume 11);
  5. Dan Xi Xin Fa (Dan Xi’s Experiential Methods) (Volume 4).

25 thoughts on “Liu Jun Zi Tang (Six Gentlemen Formula)

  1. Pingback: Si Jun Zi Tang – Four Gentlemen Decoction

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    1. admin Post author

      Normally Liu Jun Zi Tang won’t make you experience sleeplessness at night if used properly. If it happened, there might be two situations – either this formula isn’t suitable for your condition because it is too tonic, or it is partly suitable and it needs to combine with some other herbs. And further opinion from your TCM doctor is highly recommended.

    1. admin Post author

      It is the general rule that using the corresponding herb or formula to the certain pattern. So, first off you’d better make sure your condition. If you have no idea how to do it, please visit a licensed TCM doctor for a diagnosis.

  3. Niels

    For how long can I use this her combination? My acupuncture doctor says I can use this formula for a long time because it’s a combination of herbs. This is different when you only take ginseng. And he recommended me to use 6 caps a day (3gr). I’ve been taking it since 10 of June. Can it be that there are any side effects like diarea and headache? I weight 141.1lb and my height is 72inch. Is that ok for me? Thanks for the answers:-)

    1. admin Post author

      Sorry your information is not enough to give you a diagnosis. So, if I were you I will stick to what your doctor said, at least for a course.

  4. Ben

    Hi my acupuncture told me to take lui jun zi tang powder 1hr before meal

    2 scoop twice daily or 3 scoop once acupuncture gave me a plastic little spoon

    Is this right I can’t call her cause she is out of town


    1. admin Post author

      Sorry but the scoop you are using is not a standard unit. So I don’t think I can give you anything that is helpful. Please always confirm it again with your doctor if there is suspicion of the dosage.

  5. Larf

    I have a supply of Six Gentlemen which I take.

    What is the best formula to dispel wind condition?

    I was exposed to terrible chill wind at the seashore yesterday and today am a train wreck. Home, drinking hot tea. The chill went inside. I’ve had this before, not a cold, but miserable. Change of season from summer into fall also difficult transition for this body.
    I would like to have a formula on hand for these times. I am an outdoor lover, ocean swimmer. Never bothered me when I was younger, but now in my 60’s I am suseptible.

    Thank you.

    1. admin Post author

      In Chinese Medicine clinics this formula is often used in the treatment of gastroparesis, which is a stomach problem associated with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. And the results show that this is an effective option. Of course, usually the variants instead of the original formula have been used clinically.

  6. Christine arrington

    I’d like to know if I can take your formula I have low vitamin d and low iron. My dr. has me on vitamin d3 , 50,000 units 3 times a week. He has me on prescription ferrous every day. My vitamin d and iron levels have not improved. I’ve been taking these meds more than a year now. No signs of improvement. My dr keeps check on other blood work for me but all other blood work is within normal limits. When I was talking acupuncture she had me take the Chinese medicine (6 pills twice daily). I relocated after retirement. I stopped taking it. Will it be beneficial for me to start taking the supplement again? I believe it really helped to improve my health. However I’m afraid to begin again since I’m taking ferrous and hypertension medicine. Can/will you advise me. Where can I go for local advice? I live near Florence SC.

    1. admin Post author

      If possible, please visit a TCM practitioner, who will make a diagnosis and identify the pattern of your disharmony.

  7. Jean pauley

    What kind do you recommend for gastroparesis the main symptom is the nausea for my son and he is 19 and weighs 198 lbs
    Thank you

  8. Ursula

    It has been about 10 years since I opened a bottle of six gentlemen. My DOM at the time prescribed it for my recovery from food poisoning. I am wondering if the medication is still viable, having been stored in a cool dark location, or do I need to dispose of it.

  9. Jessica

    My acupuncturist recommended this herbal supplement. She told me to take 8 pills 3 times a day. I started this morning on an empty stomach. I forgot to take 8 more in the afternoon on an empty stomach. Is it ok to take them 1-2 hours after a meal? Thanks in advance.

  10. Emily

    I developed a pattern of chronic bronchitis last fall. I don’t know why. Doctors gave three conflicting diagnoses and no western meds helped. I have too much phlegm in my system which TCM doc always says is from damp spleen condition. He prescribes Six Gentlemen. It went away finally but last week I got sick and it came back. Right now I am not coughing so much as it’s hard to breathe deeply.i know licorice in the 6 Gentlemen is good for lung.
    Is there a specific formula you can recommended to help clear out the lung and inflamed bronchial passages?
    I was thinking of trying mullein or lobelia. Thank you.

  11. Emily

    What is best Formula for Heart Qi Deficiency? I have already been diagnosed along with Spleen Qi deficiency but without Chinese herbs. Just needles and Moxa. Acupuncture calms my heart and nerves as I tend to be a worrier. I am looking for an Chinese herbal formula to help my protect my heart from the effects of too much emotional upset. I am prone to palpitations. I have seen cardiologists. They don’t know what causes it. We conclude it is Spleen Qi deficiency related. I have taken Liu Jun Zi Tang in the past from my former TCM doc. and just resumed taking it. Is there another good Heart Qi Deficiency Formula you can suggest?
    Thank you.

  12. Emily

    P.S. I should tell you I have had Spleen Qi Damp Deficiency for many years. (Decades) and my symptoms have caused me to lose my health completely. My case is ADVANCED. I admit I was in denial about it and found it almost impossible to stick to the diet or take the herbs on a regular basis with no self discipline. I have paid a terrible price. i just didn’t get it. Also I live in a damp cold climate which is very bad for me. I must move to the desert or to the sunny California. It makes a huge difference in how I feel. I mean like night and day.
    All my detective work regarding the root cause of my many symptoms ( because Western Medicine have ZERO ANSWERS AND ZERO HELP AND THEIR HORRIBLE DRUGS HAVE ONLY MADE ME SICKER) have now led me back to the original Spleen Qi Diagnosis and Heart Qi deficiency and I believe Lung Qi deficiency. So I am very motivated to find the best herbs for my condition now that I remember what it is. Thank you.


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