Xiao Yao Wan, also known as Xiao Yao San, is a traditional Chinese herbal formula. The name translates more or less to "Free and Easy Wanderer." This references the concept that the formula is useful for helping regulate the energy or chi of the liver, which, when working correctly, should be able to move in all directions -- thus, free and wandering.
Chinese herbalists do not diagnose according to Western medical theory. Therefore, stating general uses for Xiao Yao Wan in terms of Western medical issues is difficult to do. For example, although irregular menstruation is a symptom that may be part of the reason for prescribing it, the herbalist would also look for the underlying condition that would suggest using Xiao Yao Wan. This would include such indications as a wiry deficient pulse and a pale red tongue.
One of the uses of Xiao Yao Wan is for women's hormonal problems. This may manifest itself as premenstrual syndrome, distension of the breasts, menstruation that is irregular, menopause or some fertility problems. There may be a combination of excess and deficiency; for example, with PMS, there may be an anger issue, which is an excess symptom, but also included may be a deficiency symptom such as fatigue. Men with blood deficient symptoms such as paleness, dizziness and headaches may also use this herbal formula.
Xiao Yao Wan is useful for treating depression and anxiety. You can use it as a general aid for stress relief. Another interpretation of the name of the formula is that a person must go with the flow, a concept inherent in the Taoist philosophy, the root of traditional Chinese medicine. However, for emotional conditions, Xiao Yao Wan would only be appropriate for mild to moderate cases. With more excessive symptoms, such as nightmares, prolonged insomnia or severe palpitations, you'd need a stronger herbal formula.
An herbalist may recommend Xiao Yao Wan for other diseases, such as ulcers, gastritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, hepatitis, fibrocystic breasts, optic nerve atrophy and retinitis. Often, it will be modified with the addition or substitution of other herbs to correctly address the individual person's situation. For this reason, work with a qualified herbalist to ensure that you take the correct herbal formula.
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