A robust digestion function is crucial for the body to obtain sufficient nutrients and, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), depends critically on the function of the Spleen. (Please note that the Spleen in TCM does not correspond to today’s anatomical spleen but is rather a digestion functional concept.) The Spleen is in charge of absorbing and transporting the nutrients from digestion around the body and transforming them into the Yin, Yang, and Qi energy etc, the fundamental elements in regulating our overall body functions. When the Spleen function is weak, adsorption and transportation of nutrients is affected, causing pale face, low energy, poor appetite, loose stool etc.
A major function of Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan is to nourish the Spleen and thus support healthy digestion. This is mostly achieved by including Si Jun Zi Tang (Four Gentlemen Decoction) in the formula. Si Jun Zi Tang itself is the basic Chinese herbal formula that supports Spleen Qi and consists of four Chinese herbs, Ren Shen (Ginseng)or Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Bai Zhu (Atractylodes), Fu Ling (Poria), and Gan Cao Yao (Licorice). Among them, Ginseng replenishes the Qi energy and harmonizes the Spleen; Atractylodes is a key tonic for the Spleen and Stomach and dries Dampness; Poria acts mainly to remove Dampness but it also strengthens the Spleen; Licorice tonifies Spleen and Qi and synchronizes the action of the other herbs.
Another main function of Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan is to remove dampness in the Spleen and the Stomach. This function is important because one causal effect of a weakened Spleen transforming function is the accumulation of fluids, which then transform into dampness in the digestive system and causes distension and loose stool. To this end, other Chinese herbs are included in Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan. Of them, Shan Yao (Chinese Yam) and Lian Zi (Lotus Seed) act to both tonify the Spleen and stop loose stool; Yi Ren (Coix Seed) and Bai Bian Dou (Hyacinth Bean) strengthen the Spleen and drain dampness; Sha Ren (Cardamon Seed) transforms dampness and promotes the Qi movement to alleviate the distension.
Shen Ling Bai Zhu Wan may be applied to reduce temporary water-weight gain. In the theory of TCM, overweight is mostly gained by the accumulation of Dampness and Phlegm which may result from the poor function of the Spleen. It is most suitable for those who sit most of the time in the office or on a sofa, are tired of moving or exercising, and/or have loose skin and soft muscles.