What is Xiaoyaosan?

Xiaoyaosan is an herbal blend that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for hundreds of years. Xiaoyaosan is said to clear “liver stagnation” by improving blood flow together (vitality). Liver qi stagnation is said to cause stress, mood swings, pain, irritability, constipation, abdominal discomfort, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and irregular periods.

The dried ingredients of Xiaoyaosan can be hand blended or purchased as a dietary supplement. The most commonly used herbs and plants for Xiaoyao San are:

  • Bupleurum
  • Angelica
  • white peony root
  • Atractylodes
  • Poria
  • Mint
  • Quick Fried Ginger Root
  • Licorice

a called Jiawei Xiaoyao San Contains all eight herbs with added peony bark and gardenia fruit.

This article explores how Xiaoyaosan is used in traditional Chinese medicine, including the scientific evidence supporting its use. It also explains how to use Xiaoyao San safely, and the possible risks and side effects of this ancient Chinese remedy.

What is Xiaoyaosan used for?

While few studies strongly support the use of Xiaoyaosan (most of which are animal- or laboratory-based), there are a few herbal remedies that have shown promise.


An animal study published in Phytotherapy research suggests that Xiaoyaosan may help relieve depression by reducing neuroinflammation (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord).

It’s a controversial theory in which imbalances in gut flora, bacteria, and other microbes in the digestive tract are thought to contribute to neuroinflammation, which in turn leads to depression. Xiaoyaosan is said to help by creating compounds that help normalize imbalances.

Published research review Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Twenty-six high-quality trials involving 1,837 people with depression were evaluated. The researchers concluded that taking Xiaoyaosan with antidepressants appeared to improve depression. However, it has no direct effect on depression by itself.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In 2009, researchers found that Xiaoyaosan reduced anxiety behaviors in stressed rats.

A later study, also involving rats, linked this effect to a hormone called a natural hormone. alloprogesterone This is thought to play a role in post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). It was found that taking Xiaoyaosan daily not only reduced anxiety behaviors, but also increased isogesterone levels in the brain.

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Anti-inflammatory compounds found in Xiaoyansan, known as Paeoniflorin and Isoliquiritigeninmay also reduce PTSD symptoms, according to a 2017 review Frontiers in PharmacologyThe researchers found that both compounds appeared to alter brain pathways associated with PTSD.

A laboratory-based study published in Scientific Reports Xiaoyaosan was shown to counteract oxidative stress in the brain in a similar manner to the antidepressant drug Prozac (fluoxetine), which is commonly used to treat PTSD. Oxidative stress is damage to cells caused by unstable atoms called free radicals. In the brain, this leads to neuroinflammation and an increased risk of depression.


Xiaoyaosan is traditionally used to soothe “stomach acid”, also known as functional indigestion or chronic indigestion.

According to published in Journal of Gastroenterology and HepatologyXiaoyaosan relieves symptoms of indigestion (stomach upset, nausea, bloating, belching) better than acid reflux drugs such as Motilium (domperidone) and Reglan (metoclopramide).

2018 in review Advances in the treatment of gastroenterology The results were confirmed and showed that Xiaoyaosan was more effective in relieving indigestion than either of the two drugs.

Despite the positive findings, high-quality research is lacking in these reviews.


There is some evidence that Xiaoyaosan may help treat depression, indigestion, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Even so, evidence remains scant due to the lack of high-quality studies in humans to support its use.

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possible side effects

Xiaoyaosan is generally considered safe. Some of the reported side effects of individual herbs in the mixture include:

  • cramps (licorice root)
  • Dizziness (licorice)
  • Edema (licorice root)
  • headache (licorice root)
  • High blood pressure (licorice)
  • Hypoglycemia (Poria)
  • Lactation in non-lactating women (licorice root)
  • numbness (licorice root)
  • upset stomach (angelica)
  • Weakness (licorice root)


Some ingredients in Xiaoyaosan may not be safe for some people. Consult your healthcare provider before using Xiaoyaosan if you have any of the following:

  • Pregnancy: Angelica can stimulate uterine contractions and should not be taken during pregnancy unless directed by a healthcare provider or midwife trained in Chinese medicine.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: Two ingredients in Xiaoyaosan are not recommended for people with cardiovascular disease: licorice root, which raises blood pressure, and Poria cocos, which has a diuretic effect (meaning it removes salt and water from the body).
  • Kidney Disease: Licorice and Poria are also not recommended for patients with kidney disease.
  • Diabetes: Poria should not be taken with anti-diabetic drugs such as insulin because it can cause a sharp drop in blood sugar.

Also, licorice is not recommended for people over the age of 65. Long-term use of this herb can lead to high blood pressure and lower potassium levels, which can lead to heart and muscle problems.

Always consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any herbal medicine. Mention all medications and supplements you take, and any conditions you have.


Xiaoyaosan can cause side effects, including headache, cramping, dizziness, and upset stomach. People who are pregnant, over the age of 65, or have diabetes, heart or kidney disease should not use Xiaoyaosan without first consulting their doctor.

Dosage and Preparation

Xiaoyao Powder is available in capsules, tinctures, and tea pills (herbal extracts compressed into pea-sized balls). It can be found online, in many natural food stores and specialty herbal stores.

Xiaoyao San supplements are sold under different brands, including Xiao Yaoyou, Leisure You, and Long San. Xiaoyao Pill is a tea pill formulation.

Capsules and tea pills are the most convenient forms of Xiaoyaosan, but TCM practitioners often prefer the traditional hand-mixing of herbs to make decoctions. Decoctions are made by soaking and mashing mixed ingredients in boiling water to create a therapeutic tonic.

There is no recommended dosage for Xiaoyaosan in any form. Follow the directions on the product label or as provided by your healthcare provider.


Xiaoyao San is sold in capsules, tinctures or “tea pills”, as well as traditional hand-blended herbs used to make decoctions. There is no recommended dose.

what to look for

Dietary supplements are largely unregulated in the United States. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, products imported from China pose additional risks because the ingredients are often written in Chinese and are known to contain heavy metals, drugs and other contaminants.

When choosing supplements, look for products certified by third-party agencies, such as ConsumerLab, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), or NSF International. These certification bodies ensure that supplements are pure and contain only the ingredients listed on the product label.


Imported Chinese herbal medicines are not strictly regulated in the United States, and there is a risk of contamination. To be safe, choose supplements certified by the USP, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.


Xiaoyaosan is a mixture of herbs and dried plants – including licorice, angelica and poria – used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat a variety of health conditions, including depression, anxiety, indigestion, constipation, pain, and menstrual problems.

Despite centuries of use, the evidence supporting Xiaoyaosan is still relatively weak.

Side effects include nausea, cramping, dizziness, headache and stomach upset. Some people shouldn’t use it, so check with your healthcare provider before trying Dimethoate.

VigorTip words

Although primary care physicians are increasingly familiar with herbal medicine, it may be helpful to consult with a licensed TCM practitioner.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can Xiaoyaosan relieve PMS?

    It’s unclear.A study published in a journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine Jiawei Xiaoyao Powder was found to be the most prescribed herbal formula for PMS in Taiwan. However, the study authors noted a lack of published studies on its safety or efficacy in the treatment of PMS.

  • How should I take tea pills?

    Tea pills are swallowed whole, but because they are so small, the standard dose is usually up to 8 pills taken 3 times a day. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when taking tea pills or other herbal supplements.

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  • How to translate Xiaoyaosan into English?

    There are various translations. The most common is the “happy worry-free powder”. Others include casual fans, freelance fans, casual fans and happy life fans. Note that “san” is powder and “pills” are pills, so the form of pills is often referred to as Xiaoyao pills.

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