Free and Easy Wanderer (Xiao Yao San): An Ancient Herbal Formula for Emotional Balance

by Lenore Cangeloso, LAc |

Free and Easy Wanderer (Xiao Yao San): An Ancient Herbal Formula for Emotional Balance

Free and Easy Wanderer, also known as Xiao Yao San, stands as a timeless herbal formula that has numerous benefits which have worked for centuries to promote emotional balance and overall well-being. This popular herbal remedy is renowned for its ability to alleviate stress, manage emotional disorders, and bring balance to the body. 

Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) numerous herbal formulas, like Free and Easy Wanderer Benefits, have been developed that address specific needs that can impact our daily lives from digestive complaints to sleep issues, aches and pain, and even stress and other emotional complaints. 

This article explores its composition, uses, and benefits. Read on to learn how to use these herbs to enhance your emotional well-being. 

What is Xiao Yao San?

Xiao Yao San, which can be translated as "Free and Easy Wanderer" or "Rambling Powder," has its roots deep in Chinese Medicine theory. It is an herbal formula composed of 8 herbs—bupleurum root, Chinese angelica root, white peony root, poria, atractylodes rhizome, ginger, licorice root, and mint. The synergist combination of this formula is used to treat patterns and conditions within TCM such as: 

  • Calm the Liver: Allows more emotional fluidity and calms the body
  • Spread Liver QiAllows more ease within the physical and emotional 
  • Strengthen the Spleen: Helps to strengthen the digestive system and its associated functions
  • Nourish the Blood: Boosts the overall quantity and quality of blood
  • Harmonize the Liver and Splee: Brings more balance to the digestive system, detoxification system and emotional regulation

The actions and indications of these herbs help to support the body's natural healing capabilities, meanwhile supporting digestive function, emotional control, disharmony manifesting in the flank region, PMS, and more. 

Xiao Yao San was originally created to address "Liver Qi stagnation," a concept in TCM that refers to the disruption of energy flow, and function of the Liver. According to TCM principles, this stagnation can lead to various emotional imbalances, such as irritability, depression, and anxiety.

Xiao Yao San Calming

Over the centuries, Free and Easy Wanderer has evolved and adapted to meet the needs of countless individuals, proving its timeless efficacy in promoting emotional well-being.

Ingredients of Xiao Yao San

The unique blend of herbs that are found within this formula plays a pivotal role in its effectiveness. 

  • Bupleurum (Chai Hu)-  Known for its ability to soothe liver qi stagnation, Bupleurum is considered the primary herb in Xiao Yao San. It helps relieve feelings of frustration and irritability.
  • White Peony (Bai Shao)-  This herb nourishes the blood and calms the Liver, addressing symptoms like mood swings and emotional instability.
  • Dong Quai (Dang Gui)- Dong Quai supports the blood and helps with Liver qi stagnation.
  • Poria (Fu Ling)- Poria is included to strengthen the spleen and resolve dampness, a concept in TCM related to digestive issues and emotional well-being.
  • White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu)- This herb is added to boost the spleen's function and reduce fatigue.
  • Mint (Bo He)- Mint helps to soothe the liver and relieve irritability.
  • Licorice (Gan Cao)- Licorice is used as a harmonizing herb to balance and enhance the effects of the other ingredients.
Xiao Yao’s Uses and Benefits

Xiao Yao, while mainly used to address emotional complaints, has been widely used to address various health needs, making it a versatile remedy in TCM. A study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal found Xiao Yao to be an effective standalone solution, and a useful combination with anti-depressive drugs to treat symptoms of depression such as “depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, and poor concentration or difficulty making decisions”.

Xiao Yao San

Xiao Yao San's effectiveness extends beyond emotional balance, and other health benefits may be as follows;

Stress Reduction

Free and Easy Wanderer has been utilized for its ability to reduce stress, irritability, and anxiousness. It helps to calm the shen (body-mind connection) and improve overall mental well-being.

Improved Menstrual Health

Xiao Yao San is often used to address symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and irregular menstrual cycles, thanks to its blood-regulating, and Qi-moving properties.

Improved Digestive Function

Its ability to strengthen the spleen and "resolve dampness" makes it an excellent choice for digestive issues, such as bloating and indigestion.

How to Take Xiao Yao San 

Xiao Yao is traditionally available in various forms, including raw herbs (decoctions), granules (powders), and capsules. The dosage and form may depend on your individual needs and possibly the guidance of a qualified TCM practitioner. This herbal formula should be used with caution during pregnancy Use with caution during pregnancy and for those with Qi Stagnation with underlying Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency.

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In a world where stress, anxiousness, and emotional imbalances are increasingly prevalent, the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine provides a unique perspective on promoting emotional well-being. Free and Easy Wanderer, or Xiao Yao San, with its rich history and versatile benefits, can help you find your way toward emotional balance and improved vitality.


Zhang Y, Han M, Liu Z, Wang J, He Q, Liu J. Chinese herbal formula xiao yao san for treatment of depression: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:931636. 

Care Consideration: Just a reminder that the above information is not a substitute for medical care and is not a substitute for medical advice or recommendations from a healthcare provider. This information is not intended to treat, mitigate or cure any disease. That said, we encourage you to connect with an Acupuncturist in your community to learn more about this and other Traditional Chinese Medicine options. If you’ve got questions about Chinese herbal medicine or getting started with an Acupuncturist, feel free to connect with us on

Lenore Cangeloso, LAc is a state-licensed and board-certified Acupuncturist and herbal medicine practitioner. She owns Wild Earth Acupuncture based in Portland, Oregon and is a Forbes Health Medical Advisor. Lenore has spent many months traveling to deepen her knowledge of the human body and is a dedicated and skilled practitioner who strives to help you achieve optimal states of well-being. You can learn more about Lenore at, @wild_earthacupuncture

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