Li Dongyuan's Formula Structure - An Open Secret

Dealing with Heat from Internal Damage

Li Dongyuan created many formulas. But many of these formulas have a particular structure that allowed him incredible flexibility combined with high efficacy. Understanding this structure allows you to design your own formulas in the same way.

Steven Clavey
Steven Clavey

Course Overview

Please Note: This course is presented in English and is verbally translated into German, back and forth, during the presentation.


In "Li Dongyuan's Formula Structure - An Open Secret" we look at how Li Dongyuan used a module-like system of constructing many of his formulas, using couplets and triplets of different classes of herbs to achieve a wide variety of effects.


The famous Shang Han Lun expert Liu Duzhou loved Li Dongyuan's formulas, and we employ many case histories from Liu to flesh out the contemporary clinical use of formulas such as:

(a) Sheng Yang Yi Wei Tang

(b) Yi Qi Cong Ming Tang

(c) Yuan Ming Nei Zhang Sheng Ma Tang

(d) Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

(e) Tiao Zhong Yi Qi Tang

(f) Wen Wei Tang

(g) Li Dongyuan's original Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang


We dissect each of the above to show the same basic structural pattern that underlies the design of each, and that can be used in our own practice to design prescriptions for an individual patient. To help this, Li Dongyuan's formula modifications are also covered, and his use of acrid and bitter herbs in combination.


We also look at "yin fire" -- both the phenomenon itself and the history that led to Li Dongyuan's development of the concept. Then we describe in detail the variety of ways that the different categories of "internal heat" are dealt with, from "leading fire back to the source" to "lifting yang to eliminate heat" to the use of wind-herbs to disperse fire in various channels.


  • To recognize and appreciate the flexible way Li Dongyuan structured his formulas, and to be able to apply that structure and flexibility to your own herbal prescriptions. Learn the components that Li combined to achieve a complex whole.

  • To understand the historical situation that informed Li Dongyuan’s clinical understanding, particularly the impact of the Mongol invasion upon northern China and how this created the insights into "internal damage" and "yin fire."

  • To deepen your ability to employ the specific methods that Li Dongyuan used to address his understanding of “heat from internal damage,” for example "Lifting to Drain Fire" or "Lifting to Disperse Fire."


  • 0 hrs - 30 min

    I. Who Was Li Dongyuan? a) Li’s extant medical texts b) Li’s teacher: Zhang Yuansu c) Li’s Formula Carved in Stone

  • 30 min - 45 min

    II. Middle Jiao as Pivot a) Liu Duzhou’s Rule of Thumb for Employing Li Dongyuan’s Formulas b) Li Dongyuan’s use of Huang Qi (Astragalus)

  • 45 min - 1.5 hrs

    III. The Structure of Important Li Dongyuan Formulas a) Sheng Yang Yi Wei Tang b) Yi Qi Cong Ming Tang c) Yuan Ming Nei Zhang Sheng Ma Tang d) Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang e) Tiao Zhong Yi Qi Tang f) Wen Wei Tang g) Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

  • 1.5 hrs - 1.75 hrs

    IV. Formula Modification Guidelines

  • 1.75 hrs - 2.25 hrs

    V. External Exposure versus Internal Damage a) the importance of Li Dongyuan’s personal experience of siege and epidemics b) Nei Shang (Internal Damage): when Shang Han Lun no longer worked c) The Play of Extremes: Yin Fire

  • 2.25 hrs - 2.5 hrs

    VI. Heat from Internal Damage a) excess versus deficiency b) heat from different deficiencies: i) heat due to blood deficiency ii) yang deficiency heat iii) qi deficient heat

  • 2.5 hrs - 2.75 hrs

    VII. Lifting to Eliminate Fire a) Bu Pi Wei Xie Xin Huo Sheng Yang Tang (Tonify Spleen-Stomach and Drain Heart Fire to Lift Yang Decoction) b) Sheng Yang San Huo Tang (Lift Yang to Disperse Fire Decoction) c) Huo Yu Tang (Heat Constraint Decoction)

  • 2.75 hrs - 3 hrs

    VIII. Conclusion a) Generations of Development: i) Luo Tianyi ii) Wang Haogu


  • Tiffany H. (United States of America)

    The best introduction to the Earth Tonifying school I've ever had. Truly excellently developed, organized, and presented. - T. H.

  • PETER A. (Australia)

    All Great.


The best introduction to the Earth Tonifying school I've ever had. Truly excellently developed, organized, and presented. - T. H.

Tiffany H. (United States of America)

All Great.

PETER A. (Australia)


Steven Clavey

Steve Clavey studied classical Chinese language in Taiwan and learned Chinese medicine and the PROC in the 70s and 80s. He has been practicing Chinese herbal medicine in Melbourne Australia for over 30 years.


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More Details
  • CEUs:

    Approved By: NCCAOM (3), Florida (3), Standard Certificate (3)

    Pending: California [Upon Request]*

  • Language: English (Primary), Deutsch (Translated)

  • Course Type: Recorded Webinar

  • Course Length: 3 h

  • Course Notes: Notes are provided with this course.

  • Access Period: Lifetime


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