Xiao Yao Wan, commonly called Free and Easy Wanderer in English-speaking countries, was once reviewed by Ye Tianshi, the famous physician in Qing Dynasty, as “a woman’s best medicine”. In ancient time, it was usually taken orally in the powder form. Hence, it is called Xiao Yao San too. As you can see, they are actually the same thing but in a different form. This formula is particularly designed for the syndromes caused by depressed liver and deficient spleen and failure of spleen in transportation. Thanks to its powerful function in reconciling liver and spleen, it has been one of highly regarded and mostly recommended herbal remedies by generation of TCM doctors. By the way, the word “Xiao Yao”, meaning “free and unfettered”, is taken from Zhuangzi, one of the most influential Chinese philosophical books written by Zhuangzi more than 2,300 years ago. As its name suggested, this pill is literally capable of making people, especially women, happy again. So, what does Xiao Yao Wan do? Let’s take a close look at it now.
Xiao Yao Wan ingredients
Due to different versions in translation, it has quite a few English names include Free and Easy Wanderer, Xiao Yao Pian (tablets), relaxx extract, Free & Easy Wanderer, Rambling powder pill, EaseTonicTM, EaseTonic, Bupleurum and Tang-Kuei Formula, Ease Pills, and so on. It is made of 8 Chinese herbs and the details are as follows:
1) Bupleurum (Chai Hu);
2) Dong Quai (Dang Gui);
3) White Peony Root (Bai Shao);
4) White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu);
5) Poria (Fu Ling);
6) Honey Fried Licorice Root (Zhi Gan Cao);
7) Mint Herb (Bo He);
8) Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang).
Among the above mentioned herbal ingredients, bupleurum serves as the monarch drug in this prescription to soothe the Liver and spread Liver Qi; Dong Quai and white peony assist and reinforce that action by nourishing blood and moistening liver; white atractylodes, Poria, and licorice root nourish the liver since they are good at invigorating spleen and supplementing qi and in turn helping blood production; ginger acts to warm the stomach to regulate the middle warmer; a little field mint cooperates bupleurum to soothe the liver and dissipate stagnated heat.
Mind you, today this pill is produced by many pharmaceutical firms, among which some tends to miss the ingredient of fresh ginger. This is simply because they have no idea at all the relationships among the ingredients. If ginger is absent from the ingredients listed on the medication instruction sheet, you’d better add it on your own. What you have to do is just cut a piece of fresh ginger, soak it with boiling water, and then take the pills with it. And it will worth your effort since it does work better to you.
By the way, many variants are derived from this famous recipe. Among them, the most common ones are Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan (relaxx plus extract, free and easy wanderer plus), Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, and more.
Xiao Yao Wan benefits
This formula was first recorded in Tai Ping Hui Min He Ji Ju Fang (Tai Ping Imperial Grace Formulary), which was a medical formulary compiled on the request of the emperor in Song Dynasty, about 880 years ago. Later it was introduced to the West and there it has become one of the most prescribed Chinese patent medicines today. So, what is Xiao Yao wan used for? Well, here are the most common Xiao Yao Wan uses for your reference.
1) Hypochondriac pain, depression syndrome, low-grade fever, nodules of breast, hair loss, fertility problems, and others due to liver depression, anemia, and spleen deficiency. Specific manifestations include wandering flank pain and fullness, lack of appetite, belching or nausea and vomiting; mental depression and fatigue, no desire to eat; alternating periods of chills and fever, irritability, dull flank pain, and dizziness.
2) PMS (premenstrual syndrome). An experiment was ever conducted in order to find out the difference of pharmacodynamic effects between 300 cases of PMS prescribed with this pill and 200 cases treated with western medicine. The result showed that the efficacy of treatment group was much better than that of control group. That’s to say, there was significant statistical difference. As a result, a conclusion can be drawn that this is a specific medicine for PMS since it is found to have definite effects on PMS, and, more importantly, the long-term curative effect is quite stable.
3) Polymenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, vomiting blood or nosebleed during periods, and uterine bleeding. According to theories of Chinese herbal remedies, a woman is blood oriented. Blood is the essence extracted and transformed from consumption of cereal by the spleen and stomach. After blood is built it is under the control of the spleen and stored in liver. Once the liver qi is stagnated, it will thus cause qi stagnation and thus irregular menstruation; in the cases of long-term stagnation, it will be transformed into fire. And then Chong and Ren meridian will be injured by heat, which in turn results in Polymenorrhea, oligomenorrhea, vomiting blood or nosebleed during periods, uterine bleeding, and other syndromes.
As a commonly used prescription for reconciling the liver and spleen, clinically it is a very popular medication in treating women-only ailments, in particular those caused by liver depression and blood deficiency and transformed heat due to chronic stagnation. Thanks to these amazing healing abilities, it is able to make a difference in the treatment of disorders associated with menstrual cycle if used properly.
4) Breast diseases. It can be also used to treat rounded nodules on both sides of the breast, which are usually of varying sizes, hard or cystic in texture, movable if pushed, aggravated before period starts but reduced or totally gone after menstrual period, and with no clear edges. In addition, it is suitable for diagnosed mammary gland hyperplasia and cystic hyperplasia by Western medicine.
5) Men’s disorders as the result of liver depression, spleen deficiency, and blood deficiency. It is often stereotyped by some as a women medication, especially for regulating menstruation only. However, it is not true and in fact it works for both men and women. And this can be confirmed by tons of men’s medical cases recorded in ancient medical books.
Xiao Yao Wan side effects and contraindications
First off, it must be made clear that this is not a supplement but a drug that is used to treat illness, from the perspective of Chinese herbal medicine. To use it, the condition must fall into its indications – liver-qi depression, deficient spleen, and blood deficiency. So, don’t just trust your instincts and make your judgment subjectively. And it is highly recommended for you to see a TCM doctor for a thorough exam and accurate diagnosis before taking it. In addition, the matters needing attention are as follows:
1) Consult with your physician before taking if you are pregnant;
2) Avoid cold or raw foods in the process of taking this drug;
3) Try not to get mad or anxiety during the course;
4) You should hurry to the hospital for a checkup in the case of sudden delayed menstruation or little bit of lengthened bleeding since you have a normal menstruation before that;
5) Don’t take a medicine for colds simultaneously;
6) Use it according to the specified usage and dosage. And immediately stop it and turn to your physician once adverse reactions occur;
7) Don’t take it if the drug property has changed;
8) Please keep it out of children;
9) Please consult your physician before using this if you are using other medicines;
10) You should go to the hospital if no improvements are found 2 weeks after taking the medication;
11) Don’t use it if you are allergic to it or use it with care if you belong to allergic constitution;
12) It should not be used during breastfeeding and during pregnancy.
Some final thoughts
In fact, nowadays diseases caused by emotions are quite common since the modern lifestyle is often characterized as overwhelming environmental and mental stresses. In addition to poor emotional control and failure of letting go of negative feelings, it’s no surprise to see a long list of diseases caused by negative emotions these days. And that is exactly where Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer) comes in as modern people are too easily influenced by emotions. However, you must accept that this formula can only give you a necessary boost when your bodies are newly defeated in a cruel battle and dying for help, just like any other medications. However, after that you need to learn how to outgrow it and use defense system of your body. That being said, to totally recover and be happy again, sometimes you have to be on you own and trust your capacity for self-adjustment. From this viewpoint, instead of saying that this article introduces a drug called Xiao Yao Wan, I’d like to say it is all about how to get a free, unfettered, and positive mindset. And finally, wish you a happy life ahead!