From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San formula is indicated for conditions in which external wind has disrupted the flow of Qi energy in the channels or meridians and thus obstructs the clear Yang Qi and causes discomfort. Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Pian has both warming and dispersing actions, which effectively drives wind from the head, clears heat, relieves discomfort and prevents the condition from penetrating deeper into the body.
Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan is most appropriate with signs of external wind invasion which include a thin, white tongue coating, superficial pulse and heat and/or chills due to exogenous wind. It should not be used in cases which arise from hyperascendant Liver Yang or from an overall deficiency of Qi (energy) or blood.
To understand Wind in TCM, just imagine you walk outside in a windy weather for a while, how your head feels.
Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan is an elegant formula composed of 8 Chinese herbs. Here, a large dose of Bo He (Mint) acts as the chief herb to disperse wind, clear heat and benefit the eyes. Chuan Xiong (Sichuan Lovage root), Bai Zhi (Dahurian Angelica root) and Qiang Huo (Notopterygium) act together as deputies to further disperse wind and relieve discomfort in the upper neck or head area. Each of these 3 herbs acts on a different meridian area of the head, based on the meridian(s) each herb acts upon and the corresponding location of those meridians on the head: Chuan Xiong works on the temples and vertex (lesser Yang and terminal Yin). Bai Zhi works on the forehead (Yang brightness) and Qiang Huo works on the occipital region (greater Yang). Chuan Xiong is one of the most essential herbs in the Chinese pharmacopeia for dispelling wind and Qi obstruction in the head, and is particularly effective when used in combination with Bai Zhi as it is here.
Jing Jie (Schizonepeta) and Fang Feng (Siler) are an important Chinese herb pair used to dispel wind and release the exterior. Gui Zhi (Cinnamon) is added to the formula to further clear and warm the channels and relieve discomfort.
Gan Cao (licorice root) harmonizes the actions of the other 7 herbs. Traditionally, this herbal formula is taken with green tea which clears heat and thereby moderates the warming and drying nature of the formula.