The Benefits of Xiao Yao San: A Traditional Chinese Herbal Formula

The following article is provided only as an educational resource - it is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, and the herbs and/or formulas within are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases. This information is intended for only licensed healthcare practitioners.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the use of herbal formulas has been an important healing modality for centuries. One such formula that has gained mainstream recognition is Xiao Yao San, also known as "Free and Easy Wanderer." First documented in the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), Xiao Yao San has stood the test of time and can be found in TCM clinics and natural health stores worldwide.

What are the benefits of Xiao Yao San?

Xiao Yao San, a traditional Chinese herbal formula, may assist in promoting emotional balance for better sleep; relieving stress and anxiety; boosting energy naturally; addressing bloating and digestive issues; and supporting women's health during PMS and perimenopause.

You may be wondering, "How can one formula address so many different health concerns?" We'll discuss this, along with the classic formula's ingredients, traditional actions on the body, and potential health benefits, all in greater detail.

What ingredients are in Xiao Yao San?

Xiao Yao San is a blend of eight herbs. Each herb contains unique, natural properties that work together to address imbalances in the body. The herbs in this formula include: bupleurum root (chai hu), Chinese angelica root (dang gui), white peony root (bai shao), Poria mushroom (fu ling), white atractylodes rhizome (bai zhu), roasted ginger (sheng jiang), licorice root (gan cao), and mint herb (bo he).  

Xiao Yao San herb mint

What are Xiao Yao San's traditional actions on the body?

Just as each herb in Xiao Yao San has unique natural properties that serve a particular function, so do they work collectively to bring overall balance and harmony to the body. This helps to explain why one formula can address such a wide range of health issues: Many symptoms share the same root imbalance.

Irritability and menstrual cramps, for example, can share a root imbalance of what TCM calls "liver qi (pronounced "chee") stagnation." As you'll see next, Xiao Yao San is especially effective at smoothing the flow of liver qi!

Let's look at all the traditional actions that Xiao Yao San has on the body:

Smooths the flow of liver qi

According to TCM, imbalances in the flow of liver Qi can lead to various health issues. When the liver Qi is stagnant due to stress, overwork, or emotional turmoil, it can manifest as symptoms like pain, digestive upset, anxiety, or other health issues. By easing the liver and promoting the smooth flow of Qi, Xiao Yao San aims to alleviate these symptoms and restore harmony in the body. 

Nourishes the blood

In TCM, blood is considered a vital resource that nourishes the body. Daily activities, illnesses, childbirth, traumas, and chronic stress can deplete the blood, leading to deficiencies. Xiao Yao San contains herbs that help nourish and replenish the blood, providing support for healthy hair, skin, nails, reproductive systems, and overall vitality. 

Strengthens the spleen and stomach

The Chinese spleen and stomach systems play a crucial role in TCM, not only in digestion but also in maintaining overall energy and vitality. Xiao Yao San helps strengthen these systems, improving digestive function and supporting overall vitality. By enhancing the strength and power of the stomach and spleen, Xiao Yao San contributes to better digestion, increased energy, and improved overall well-being. 

Five Potential Benefits of Xiao Yao San

The health benefits derived from Xiao Yao San are a result of its traditional actions on the body. These actions create internal balance and harmony, resulting in natural symptom relief and improved health. Here are five common health benefits people can experience with this formula:

1. Promotes emotional balance for better sleep

Xiao Yao San is frequently used to promote emotional balance and improve sleep quality. The formula's ability to ease stress and calm the mind makes it a valuable tool for those struggling with sleep disturbances caused by overthinking or anxiety. And, unlike melatonin and other sleep aids, Xiao Yao San can be added to morning or evening routines for overall sleep improvement.

Xiao Yao San promotes healthy sleep

2. Addresses stress and anxiety

We all know that stress can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Xiao Yao San is a wonderful formula for improving emotional balance naturally. Those suffering from anxiety may also experience benefits from this formula: A 2023 review in the journal Chinese Herbal Medicines reported that Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, a popular modification of the formula, "has shown excellent clinical efficacy in anxiety disorder."

3. Boosts energy naturally

Xiao Yao San can offer a natural and caffeine-free energy boost. In fact, many have found this formula can lift their mood and even replace their morning coffee. Unlike caffeine, Xiao Yao San offers gentle and sustained energy without the worry of sleep disruption. 

4. Addresses bloating and digestive issues

Xiao Yao San may also be effective in addressing bloating and digestive issues. The gut-brain connection, a fundamental principle in Chinese medicine, has gained mainstream recognition in recent years, highlighting the impact of emotional well-being on digestive health. Xiao Yao San, with its ability to soothe the liver and promote the smooth flow of Qi, can help with digestive issues, which are often associated with anxiety or moodiness.

5. Supports women's health during PMS and perimenopause

Xiao Yao San has a long history of use in women's health. It is particularly beneficial for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and perimenopause, when women often experience symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, bloating, breast tenderness, and hormonal imbalances. Many have reported relief and achieved a smoother monthly cycle with more balanced hormones after adding Free & Easy Wanderer to their daily routine. 

Xiao Yao San for womens health

Where can you buy Xiao Yao San?

For practitioners, Treasure of the East offers Xiao Yao San granules and capsules, which offer superior absorption over teapills or tablets. We also offer bulk granules, offering a savings of 20% compared to bottled herbs!  

For consumers, while it's possible to find Xiao Yao San online and in health food stores, we highly recommend going through a qualified practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine. Please read "Which Chinese herbal medicines are safe?" for more information.

How long does it take to see results from taking Xiao Yao San?

Results can vary depending on the individual and their specific condition. Some may experience improvements within a few days, while others notice changes within a few weeks of consistent use.

For the best results with Xiao Yao San or any TCM herbal formula, we always recommend consulting with a qualified practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.

Safety and Precautions

Xiao Yao San is generally regarded as safe for most individuals. However, as with any herbal supplement, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before introducing a new herbal product or supplement. 

Your practitioner will also consider any potential interactions with other medications or supplements you may be taking. Pregnant individuals and those with kidney disease or high blood pressure should exercise caution and seek professional guidance before using Xiao Yao San. 


Xiao Yao San, the "Free and Easy Wanderer," is a classical formula which may have wide-ranging health benefits. Whether you're seeking a natural option to support emotional balance, stress alleviation, increased energy, improved digestion, or support for women's health, Xiao Yao San can be a valuable tool in promoting lasting health and wellness.

Practitioners, did you know...? Treasure of the East’s full-spectrum extracts contain the same active chemical constituents as raw herbs! Register for a professional account today, or read on to discover all the benefits of including full-spectrum granules in your herbal pharmacy.