Got leg cramps? Try Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang!

Updated: Feb 18


Peony and Licorice Decoction, or Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang, is a time-tested 2000 year old herbal combination that effectively treats muscle cramps and spasms anywhere in the body. It may be most known for relieving leg and foot cramping, but it can be effective for muscle cramping anywhere. Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang can be used by itself, or added to personalized formulas to better treat multiple symptoms.


For example, a patient recently came in seeking help with depression and low mood. He also reported he had insomnia and couldn’t sleep because he had leg cramps. After diagnosing him according to Chinese Medical principles, the connection between the systems causing his depression, as well as the leg cramps became clear. He was prescribed an herbal combination of about 10 herbs, which included herbs to help relieve depression. Specifically including the combination of Peony and Licorice, to soften the muscle cramping. After 3 weeks taking the herbs, the patient reported significant mood lifting as well as a complete elimination of his leg cramps.


The effects of Shao Yao Gan Cao Tang are accomplished by the synergy between just 2 herbs.


Bai Shao (also called Shao Yao, and more commonly known as White Peony Root) is known in Chinese Medicine to tonify blood, calm the Liver system, and help soften muscles and tendons through its sour nature. What does this mean? As an analogy, if your body is a rubber band that is not fully nourished, it is more likely to be brittle and cause you problems. Bai Shao softens the rubber band nature of our body, making it flexible and adaptable to our environment. As a result, cramping is relieved.



Gan Cao, or Licorice Root, is a powerful Chinese herb with many actions. In this formula, it is known to help tonify the Spleen system, which in turn is the system that regulates the muscles of the body according to Chinese Medical theory. In this way it is known to help relieve spasms and cramping, particularly when combined with Bai Shao.





Want to know if this 2000 year old herbal combination is the right formula for your muscle cramping? Schedule a Telehealth Herbal Consult with one of our licensed Chinese Herbologists.



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