Medicinal plants: A Chinese Herbal Formula Is Effective For Treating Depression

The prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center health and research center in New York highlights that the mixture of plants “xiao yao san” reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety with fewer side effects than drugs.

A traditional Chinese medicine formula based on medicinal plants, called “xiao yao san”, is effective in treating depression and has fewer and less serious side effects than the most frequently used antidepressant drugs, according to several studies cited by the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York.

Xiao yao san” not only does not produce great serious side effects, but also has protective properties on the liver, the organ that is usually more punished by synthetic drugs.


Xiao yao san is a blend with a long medicinal history as a treatment for depression, anxiety and stress. A review of studies by researchers at Guang”anmen Hospital concluded that combining traditional medicine with drugs improved outcomes in the treatment of depression.

A modified version of the mixture, called “jia wei xiao yao san”, achieves even longer effects and a lower complication rate compared to serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant medications such as fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline. In addition, this formula improves the symptoms of sleep disorder.


According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), “xiao yan san” is indicated in the treatment of perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms, such as tiredness, mood swings, depression, and insomnia.

In Taiwan, on the other hand, it is the traditional medicine most prescribed for breast cancer patients, to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy. It also reduces the risk of endometrial cancer, always according to studies collected by the MSKCC.

The biological mechanisms that explain the effects of these medicinal plant mixtures have not yet been fully clarified, but researchers suggest that they act on mood by regulating the levels of arginine, alanine, lactic acid, glycerol, glutamine, glutamic acid, and hypoxanthine. , myoinositol and cholesterol, which are involved in the metabolism of aspartate, D-glutamine and D-glutamate.

A study published in Phytotherapy Research suggests that “xiao yao san” can alleviate depression by modifying the gut microbiota, which would improve amino acid metabolism.


“Xiao yao san” is made up of 8 medicinal plants:

  • Chinese peony root or bush rose ( Paeonia lactiflora Pall)
  • Bupleurum chinense root
  • Poria ( Wolfiporia extensive )
  • Rhizome of Attraylodis macrocephalae
  • Angelicae sinensis ( dong quai ) root
  • Licorice root ( Glycyrrhizae uralensis )
  • Ginger ( Zingiber officinale )
  • Japanese mint ( Mentha haplocalyx )

The “jia wei xiao yao san” version adds two floors:

  • Peony bark ( Cortex moutan )
  • Gardenia jasminoides fruits

The formulas “xiao yao san” and “jia wei xiao yao san” are sold in the form of capsules, tablets, infusion mix and extracts.

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