San, Tang and Wan – What’s The Difference?

San Tang and Wan

Phoenix Concentrated Herbal GranulesIf you’ve learnt Chinese herbal medicine and Chinese isn’t your first language, kudos to you -because the Chinese language is not easy especially when you’re combining medical knowledge! It gets even more confusing when herbal formulas are described as San, Tang and Wan. For example: Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San (Free and Easy Wanderer).

The reason why some herbal formulas use Wan and some use San or Tang, is because some herbs are better extracted with certain mediums. For example, if a formula is usually found with Tang on the end, it means that traditional water decoction extracts the active ingredients from the herbs best and has been found to provide better clinical results.

Here’s a table to clarify the difference between San, Tang and Wan. We’ve also added more terms including KeLi (granules), JiaoNang (capsules) and KouFuYe (oral solutions):

Gao (膏)Gao means syrup or paste. By simmering the herbs (Ao/熬), you can produce your own syrups by using honey or you can make a thick paste for skin disorders.
KeLi (颗粒)KeLi means granules - specifically referring to granulated herbs. The herbs may be traditionally decocted and then produced into concentrated granules. At Phoenix, we supply granules produced by Spray Dry Granulation, which removes the need for cornstarch, a filler found in many other brands.
KouFuYe (口服液)KouFuYe refers to an oral solution or a medication in a liquid form, such as a cough syrup.
Pian (片)Pian refers to tablets. By using a tablet press or tabletting machine, we can make tablets out of our concentrated herbal granules. This is an easy and convenient way for your patient to take their herbs.
Tang (汤)Broth, soup or decoction - Tang describes the soup produced when raw dried herbs are boiled and reduced into a concentrated broth.
San (散)Concentrated granules or powders - this is a modern form of herbs which have been readily processed and require only the addition of hot water. San formulas are quick and easy to use, perfect for the modern individual.
Shui (水)Shui means water or liquid
Wan (丸)Wan refers to tea pills. The herbal formula is simmered until concentrated, then it is formed into small balls that are often black in colour. This is a common format used by supplement manufacturers in Asia.
JiaoNang (胶囊)JiaoNang means capsules. Herbal granules or powders may be encapsulated into gelatin or vegetable cellulose capsules for convenience. Our Chinese herbal dispensary offers an encapsulation service for bespoke prescriptions.

So Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang refers to the herbal “soup” or “decoction” and Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan refers to the tea pills.

Phoenix Medical Dispensary

At Phoenix Medical, we run a fully comprehensive dispensary where we produce herbal formulas on demand. We have hundreds of dried herbs and concentrated herbal granules to build a formula from. What’s more, we also have a variety of formats and packaging options available. Qualified herbalists can sign up for a practitioner account and start building formulas in our online ordering system.

Why choose Phoenix to dispense your herbs?

•    Free next day delivery for all orders placed before 2:30 pm (U.K. orders only)

•    Largest range of over 600 dry herbs and concentrated herbal granules

•    An efficient online-ordering system has an instant price calculation

•    Customised labels with your clinic logo so your brand is presentable throughout your patient’s treatment process

•    Flat pack re-sealable zip lock packaging as they are more space efficient and easy to deliver through letterboxes, so your patient doesn’t have to wait around for the postman

•    Variety of prescriptions and solutions available to suit the needs of your patient

For more information about herbal formulas and our Chinese herbal dispensary, please email or visit the Chinese Herbal Dispensary website.

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