Hepatic Encephalopathyaccording to TCM

What is Hepatic Encephalopathy?

Hepatic encephalopathy is a serious complication of liver disease that affects the brain. It occurs when the liver fails to remove toxins from the blood, leading to a buildup that impairs brain function. Symptoms can range from mild confusion and forgetfulness to severe personality changes, tremors, and even coma. This condition often arises in patients with chronic liver disease, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, and requires prompt medical attention to manage the underlying liver dysfunction and prevent further neurological damage.

How does TCM view Hepatic Encephalopathy?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views hepatic encephalopathy as a manifestation of underlying disharmony within the body. Unlike Western medicine, which focuses on the liver's inability to detoxify the blood, TCM considers patterns such as Phlegm misting the Mind, Heat in the Blood, and Qi Stagnation.

These patterns disrupt the normal flow of Qi and Blood, leading to symptoms affecting the Mind and consciousness. Identifying the correct pattern of disharmony is essential for effective treatment, as TCM aims to address the root cause and restore balance within the body.

Causes of Hepatic Encephalopathy According to TCM

In TCM, one common cause of hepatic encephalopathy is Phlegm misting the Mind. This pattern is characterized by symptoms such as confusion, lethargy, and clouded consciousness, resulting from the accumulation of Phlegm obstructing the Mind.

Another potential cause is Heat in the Blood, which manifests with symptoms like restlessness, agitation, and delirium. This pattern occurs when excessive Heat agitates the Blood, leading to mental disturbances. These patterns emphasize the importance of understanding the underlying imbalances to provide effective treatment.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Hepatic Encephalopathy

Treating hepatic encephalopathy in TCM involves using specific herbal formulas tailored to the patient's pattern of disharmony. For patterns involving Phlegm misting the Mind, Su He Xiang Wan is often recommended. This formula includes Styrax (Su He Xiang), a pungent, sweet, and warm herb that helps to warm and open sensory orifices. For patterns of Heat in the Blood, Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang is used, featuring Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao), a bitter, salty, and cold herb that clears nutritive-level Heat.

Another effective formula is Zhi Bao Dan, also with Water Buffalo Horns, which clears Heat and opens sensory orifices. The choice of formula depends on the individual’s specific pattern, ensuring a personalized and effective treatment approach. By addressing the root cause, TCM aims to restore balance and improve overall health.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address hepatic encephalopathy, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that warm and open sensory orifices
  • Formulas that clear nutritive-level heat
  • Formulas that clear heat and open sensory orifices

TCM Herbs for Hepatic Encephalopathy

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address hepatic encephalopathy, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that open the orifices
  • Herbs that cool the blood

"Herbs that open the Orifices" recommended for hepatic encephalopathy

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Musk (She Xiang) Su He Xiang Wan | Zhi Bao Dan
Styrax (Su He Xiang) Su He Xiang Wan
Borneol (Bing Pian) Su He Xiang Wan
Benzoin (An Xi Xiang) Su He Xiang Wan