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Table 2 Summary of top five most frequently used CHM formulasa

From: Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of ulcerative colitis: a review

English name (Phonetic)

Combination (Phonetic)



Frequency of usage

Frequency of integration with Western medicineb

Pulsatilla Decoction (Bai-Tou-Weng-Tang)

Pulsatillae Radix (Bai Tou Weng), Phellodendri Chinensis Cortex (Huang Bai), Coptidis Rhizoma (Huang Lian), Fraxini Cortex (Qin Pi)

Clears heat, resolves toxins, cools the blood, and arrests dysentery

This formula is indicated for heat toxin bloody dysentery. The symptoms are stools with pus and fresh blood, abdominal pain, abdominal urgency with rectal heaviness, burning sensation in the anus, thirst with a desire to drink, a red tongue with yellow coating, and a slippery, rapid pulse


Mesalazine: 86

Sulfasalazine: 83

Ginseng, Poria and Atractylodes Macrocephala Powder (Shen-Ling-Bai-Zhu-San)

Nelumbinis Semen (Lian Zi Xin), Coicis Semen (Yi Yi Ren), Amomi Fructus (Sha Ren), Platycodonis Radix (Jie Geng), Lablab Semen Album (Bai Bian Dou), Poria (Fu Ling), Ginseng Radix et Rhizoma (Ren Shen), Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma (Gan Cao), Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma (Bai Zhu), Dioscoreae Rhizoma (Shan Yao)

Boosts qi and fortifies the spleen, drains dampness and arrests diarrhea

This formula is indicated for patterns of spleen deficiency with excessive dampness accumulation marked by epigastric bloating or stuffiness, borborygmus, diarrhea, lack of strength in the four limbs, thin body, and lusterless yellow facial complexion. The tongue is pale with a white, greasy coating and the pulse is moderate and deficient


Sulfasalazine: 38

Mesalazine: 19

Peony Decoction (Shao-Yao-Tang)

Paeoniae Radix Alba (Shao Yao), Angelicae Sinensis Radix (Dang Gui), Coptidis Rhizoma (Huang Lian), Arecae Semen (Bing Lang), Aucklandiae Radix (Mu Xiang), Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma (Gan Cao), Rhei Radix et Rhizoma (Da Huang), Scutellariae Radix (Huang Qin), Cinnamomi Cortex (Rou Gui)

Clears heat in the large intestine, dries dampness, invigorates the blood, and moves qi

This formula is indicated for damp-heat dysentery. The symptoms are dysentery with stool containing pus and blood, abdominal pain, abdominal urgency with rectal heaviness, burning sensation in the anus, scant dark urine, a greasy yellow tongue coating, and a wiry rapid pulse


Sulfasalazine: 26

Mesalazine: 21

Center-Supplementing and Qi-Boosting Decoction (Bu-Zhong-Yi-Qi-Tang)

Astragali Radix (Huang Qi), Glycyrrhizae Radix et Rhizoma Praeparata cum Melle (Zhi Gan Cao), Ginseng Radix et Rhizoma (Ren Shen), Angelicae Sinensis Radix (Dang Gui), Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium (Chen Pi), Cimicifugae Rhizoma (Sheng Ma), Bupleuri Radix (Chai Hu), Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma (Bai Zhu)

Supplements the center and boosts qi; raises yang and lifts the sunken

This formula is indicated for two patterns. The first pattern is deficient or sunken spleen qi with reduced food intake, general sluggish sensation, weak breathing, lack of desire to speak, sallow-yellow facial complexion, and loose unformed stool. The tongue is pale and the pulse is deficient. The second pattern is objective or subjective fever due to qi deficiency manifested by a feverish sensation, spontaneous sweating, thirst with a desire for hot drinks, shortness of breath, and lack of strength. The tongue is pale and the pulse is deficient, big, and weak


Sulfasalazine: 18

Mesalazine: 13

Important Formula for Painful Diarrhea (Tong-Xie-Yao-Fang)

Atractylodis Macrocephalae Rhizoma (Bai Zhu), Paeoniae Radix Alba (Bai Shao), Citri Reticulatae Pericarpium (Chen Pi), Saposhnikoviae Radix (Fang Feng)

Supplements the spleen and softens the liver, dispels dampness and arrests diarrhea

This formula is indicated for painful diarrhea due to a deficient spleen and a vigorous liver, characterized by borborygmus, abdominal pain, diarrhea with abdominal pain, pain that is relieved after diarrhea, the guan pulses of both hands not in harmony (a wiry pulse on the left hand and a moderate pulse on the right)


Sulfasalazine: 21

Mesalazine: 14

  1. a Including both fixed formulas and individualized formulas. Thus, the top five formulas provided in the Table also included their modifications
  2. b We selected the integrated western medicines which have been used more than 10 times