Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian

Yin qiao jie du pian (yin chiao wan) is another classical formula, primarily for summer colds and flu. Where ge gen wan contains primarily warming herbs, yin qiao wan contains primarily cooling herbs. This classical formula is much newer than Ge Gen Wan/Kudzu Pills, dating back to only 1798. This formula is a good example of the evolution of Chinese medicine over the past 2,000 years. Colds, flu, and many other diseases were long linked to an invasion of “pathogenic cold”. The cold may transform into heat in time, but for a long time cold was considered to be the origin. In the 18th century, doctors began to focus on “pathogenic heat” as the origin of many diseases. This gave rise to the “warm disease” school of Chinese medicine. This transition is sometimes identified with a change in focus from viral disease to bacterial disease. Yin qiao wan is an example of a formula from this school. The doctor who invented the formula was part of a school of medicine which studied diseases due to “heat damage” rather than “cold damage”.

Yin qiao wan takes its name from two herbs, honeysuckle and forsythia, which function to clear heat from the body. This combination is a good example of herb combining. On their own, these two herbs clear heat from the “interior” of the body. Used together, they clear heat from the “exterior”. In other words, they are usually used for chronic heat syndromes, but together they are effective for acute infections.

In addition to these herbs, there are a number of herbs which focus specifically on relieving the throat. Two of these herbs give us another example of how the focus of an herb can change depending on the other herbs they are combined with. Platycodon, or jie geng in Chinese, is primarily used for cough and phlegm. Licorice, or gan cao, is usually used to mitigate toxic qualities of other herbs or as an energy tonic. Used together, however, these two herbs are very effective to relieve sore throat.


Where Ge Gen Wan/Kudzu Pills is used for “cold” colds, yin qiao wan is used for “hot” colds. These are often spring and summer colds, rather than winter colds. Sore throat is often the cardinal symptom of this type of cold, which is also accompanied by more fever or a subjective feeling of heat and less feeling of being chilled, and there may also be sweating. There is often a cough, and nasal discharge tends to be thicker and more yellow, compared to ge gen wan where it is usually clear and runny.

Because of the American lifestyle, which is generally stressful and marked by a poor diet with a lot of greasy, fried and processed foods filled with artificial ingredients, many people have internal heat conditions. As a result, even “cold” colds can quickly turn to heat, often making this an appropriate formula for winter colds as well.

Cautions and Contraindications

Yin qiao wan should not be taken long-term. If symptoms persist, please consult a health professional.