How Gui Pi Tang Helped Save a Marriage through Better Sleep

by Dr. Eric Karchmer, PhD, MD (China), LAc |

How Gui Pi Tang Helped Save a Marriage through Better Sleep

As Chinese herbal medicine like Gui Pi Tang is known for their innumerable benefits, one of its distinguishing features is to improve sleep quality by minimizing sleep disturbances. All these features explain what makes them so effective-is that they don’t sedate the body. A renowned scholar named Wang Jianzhi, once said that Chinese herbal medicine are non-habit forming which is why they treat broad array of psychological disorders rather than just treating sleep.

While, Chinese herbal medicine therapies target insomnia at cellular level, this makes them effective against the wide array of sleep problems rather than just improving sleep. This pretty much explains why one of our client praise Mental Tranquility for not just enhancing sleep quality but also saving her martial life.

A Working Mother’s Battle

When you can’t sleep it can be horrible, sometimes developing so gradually that sometimes we don’t even recognize that we’re falling into a “bad sleep pattern” when in fact we are. This was precisely the case with a recent patient who sought me out for general issues of fatigue that she attributed to the challenge of trying to succeed at a demanding job and raising three young children.

Since the birth of her eldest child, who ages eight years, she has been longing to get a restful night sleep. Till then she considers herself as “light sleeper”. When I inquired further, it was clear that she nonetheless had significant anxiety about getting a good night’s sleep. 

“Getting through the day was always a struggle, and she rarely felt mentally sharp”

Even though her husband had taken on most of the nighttime responsibilities with the younger children, this patient often woke up at night, did not go back to sleep easily, and felt exhausted when she woke in the morning. Getting through the day was always a struggle, and she rarely felt mentally sharp. In the patient’s eyes, she was just suffering from the hardships of modern family life and motherhood.

It was obvious to me that she would instantly be cured with just first session of Chinese herbal therapies; before that, I need to examine her properly. She complained that she remains cold throughout the day which further explains she does not feel hot at night. She also told that one night she stayed awake with closed eyes and active brain wondering about will she able to get a peaceful sleep to handle everything on her agenda.

When I inquired about her health concerns, I got to know that she has a lifelong complaint of acute abdominal pain that was much manageable now. Her menstrual cycle was very regular and her periods relatively uneventful. I examined her tongue, and it was pale and with a thin white coating

Was She a Hot or Cold Sleeper?

In Chinese medicine theory, chronic sleep issues are usually attributed to some sort of “deficiency” (an important Chinese herbal medicine concept). In some cases, the patient will also have one or more clear signs of heat, such as a strong sensation of heat accompanied by sweating, vivid dreams or nightmares, constipation, cankers sores, irritability or anger (in this case, our Physical Tranquility, based on Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, would be the more appropriate formula for this type of sleeper).

This patient, however, had almost no signs of heat. Instead, her fatigue, stress, the history of her digestive issues, the color of her tongue, and the fact that her disrupted sleep was brought on by the heavy demands of motherhood and work, suggested a pattern of Qi (and Blood) deficiency. Mental Tranquility, based on Gui Pi Tang, was clearly a good fit, and she decided to try it.

 gui pit tang 

After Two Months, She Realized How Much Happier She Was 

Almost immediately, she noticed some benefits. On the very first night of taking Gui Pi Tang, she slept quite deeply. Was it a fluke? Over the next couple nights, she noticed that if she took Gui Pi Tang and was awakened at night, she could easily go back to sleep.

The anxiety, the mental gymnastics, the long stretches of sleeplessness began to fade away. Over time, she also noticed two other fascinating developments. First, she began to notice that she felt more emotionally grounded. She was no longer stressed by the fear of sleeplessness at night, but even more importantly her mood during the day improved dramatically.

Sleep Sample

Several months after she began treatment, she remarked on how much happier she was, and that the whole family was reaping the benefits. In retrospect, she now recognized that she had been struggling with a lot of anxiety. Half jokingly, she told me that Mental Tranquility may have “saved her marriage.” I was delighted to hear this report but not surprised since I have used this formula for patients with similar patterns before. But her second discovery did truly surprise me.

A Chinese Herbal Medicine Explanation

How can this one little formula treat so many health concerns? To answer this question, let’s explore the classic theory of "Restore the Spleen Decoction" (or GU Pi Tang in Chinese)- the secret behind Mental Tranquility.

At first, conventional Chinese herbal medicine textbooks cures depression, anxiety, and mental exhaustion which contribute to heart palpitations, mental fogginess, and reduce sleep.  In Chinese medicine, this combination of symptoms is caused by a “Spleen Qi and Heart Blood deficiency.“ Although this expression may be perplexing to the lay reader, what is fascinating here is the way it describes the interconnectedness of mind and body, what westerner consider a separate entity.

Tension, anxiety, and physical exhaustion are conditions associated with spleen; however, memory loss, sleep disorders, and heart palpitations are concerns of Heart. By addressing low “Spleen Qi” flow, this formula improves digestion, reduces exhaustion, and brightens up one’s mind, treating stress and tension.

Sleep Sample Image

By treating deficient "Heart Blood", the "Spirit" - a term that broadly refers to one’s mental and emotional faculties - is settled and takes up its proper residence in the Heart.  This improves sleep quality and restores mental clarity.

With enhanced Qi flow, the herbal formula helps to treat mild bleeding problems, making it suitable for situations were least blood loss in involved like a woman might experience at the beginning or end of her period.

Furthermore, improving flow of Qi leads to blood creation thus assisting body to recover from any trauma. Mostly Chinese books believe that Restore the Spleen Decoction is a Blood boosting formula. Though it not only “increases blood” as effectively as other herbal supplements like Si Wu Tang (Dao Women’s Formula), it is considered an effective strategy to treat concerns where there is evidence of a Qi deficiency.

Apart from the symptoms discussed above, many Chinese researchers have experienced positive clinical trials using this strategy to improve patient dealing with of low self esteem, anxiety, menopause, post-concussion syndrome, iron deficiency anemia, gastric bleeding, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, certain heart conditions, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

At every visit, the patient should provide report on flows of “Spleen Qi” and Heart Blood Deficiencies. Mental Tranquility has the potential to transform the lives of countless people suffering from disrupted sleep, as well as a wide variety of other related conditions.

Though, it does not regulate all kinds of disrupted sleep patterns (for this read  my other article  on comparison between DAO Mental Tranquility and Physical Tranquility). But if you think it’s the right formula for you then it may lighten your evenings, and some other important things, like your marital life.

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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

Dr. Eric Karchmer is a practicing Chinese medical doctor, medical anthropologist, and co-founder and Chief Doctor of Chinese Medicine for DAO Labs. From 1995-2000, Eric studied at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and today is both a licensed acupuncturist and professor at Appalachian State University. Eric can be reached at

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