The Three Treasures Formula, Nourish the Root® is a variation of the ‘Restoring the Left [Kidney] Pill” (Zuo Gui Wan) prescription to nourish Kidney-Yin. This was chosen as the main formula to nourish Kidney-Yin as, on the basis of clinical experience, it is better suited to Western patients than the more famous Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (Six-Ingredient Rehmannia Pill) because it tends also to nourish Blood (with Gou Qi Zi) and it strengthens the back and Kidney-Yang as well with Huai Niu Xi.
It is suitable for an extremely wide range of problems, provided the underlying pattern is Kidney-Yin deficiency. If there is very pronounced Empty-Heat, however, consider using the formula Ease the Journey – Yin® instead. Although the latter is primarily intended for addressing menopausal problems occurring against a background of Kidney-Yin deficiency, its use is not restricted to women: it can be used for patients of either sex and any age provided the presenting pattern is one of deficiency of Kidney-Yin evidenced by a tongue without coating; if there is Empty Heat, the tongue would be red.
The possible causes of this condition are overwork (in the sense of working long hours without adequate rest for years), irregular diet, emotional stress and, in women, bearing too many children too close together (which is not common in Western countries); in men, excessive sexual activity may also contribute to Kidney deficiency.
Nourish the Root® can be used for complex conditions characterized by a deficiency of both Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang. Such conditions occur frequently, especially in women. The manifestations might be, for example, dizziness, tinnitus, night-sweating, feeling of heat in the evening, hot flushes, cold hands and feet and frequent-pale urination. However, it should be stressed that this formula should be used only when the deficiency of Kidney-Yin predominates over that of Kidney-Yang and the tongue therefore tends towards being red.
The formula nourishes Liver-Yin and Kidney-Yin. Its emphasis is on strengthening the sinews and bones, and the tissues related to Liver and Kidneys respectively. Niu Xi has this function in the prescription. There is a correlation between the physical aspect of strengthening sinews and bones with herbs which act on the Liver and Kidneys, and the strengthening of the Ethereal Soul (Hun) and Will-Power (Zhi) related to these organs.
The Ethereal Soul resides in the Liver and is responsible for vision, planning, sense of direction. The Will-Power resides in the Kidneys and controls drive, enthusiasm and spirit of initiative. When the Yin of the Liver and Kidneys is deficient, the Ethereal Soul is deprived of its root and the Will-Power is weak. This results in depression and exhaustion characterized by lack of a sense of direction, aimlessness and loss of Drive and Will-Power. In the same way that there is physical stiffness in the back, this person may tend to be rather rigid in his or her mental attitude.
The condition can arise either as a consequence of emotional problems caused by shock, fear, or guilt, or vice-versa, as a result of depletion of Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Essence (through overwork). In particular, inappropriate feelings of guilt are often the cause of Kidney-Yin deficiency together with a certain sinking of Kidney-Qi; a feeling of guilt over a long period of time gnaws away at the Mind and Will-Power and consumes Yin.
Caution and Contraindications
Yin-nourishing substances are cloying in nature and tend to weaken the Spleen and increase Dampness. If there is a Spleen deficiency and some Dampness together with the Kidney-Yin deficiency (which is quite common), do not use the formula continuously: take it for 3-4 months and then suspend its use for 1-2 months. Alternatively, if the patient is receiving acupuncture, the practitioner could address the Kidney-Yin deficiency with this formula and concentrate on tonifying the Spleen and resolving Dampness with acupuncture.
Timing of Administration
Take in the evening (or a higher dose in the evening), ideally with a little, slightly-salted, hot water.