Newborn jaundice, clinically known as neonatal jaundice, is a common condition that causes a yellow discoloration in a newborn baby's skin and eyes. This condition occurs when a baby has a high level of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced during the normal breakdown of red blood cells.
In most cases, newborn jaundice is a benign condition that resolves on its own as the baby's liver develops and becomes more efficient at processing bilirubin. It is especially common in preterm babies and within the first week of life in full-term babies.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on newborn jaundice, viewing it through the lens of energy imbalances and disharmony within the body. TCM considers jaundice in newborns as an indication of an imbalance in the body's Qi (vital energy), particularly involving the liver and gallbladder.
This condition is often attributed to factors such as Damp-Heat, a term in TCM that refers to the accumulation of heat and dampness in the body. Identifying the specific underlying pattern of disharmony is crucial in TCM for providing the most effective treatment.
In TCM, newborn jaundice is often associated with two primary patterns. The first is Damp-Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder, characterized by symptoms such as yellowing of the skin and eyes, irritability, and possibly a feverish body with cool extremities. This indicates an accumulation of heat and dampness in these organs, impairing the normal flow of Qi and blood.
Another common TCM pattern linked to newborn jaundice is Spleen and Stomach Deficiency, wherein the infant's digestive system, mainly the Spleen and Stomach, is underdeveloped. This leads to a buildup of Dampness and Phlegm, manifesting as poor appetite, loose stools, lethargy, along with the jaundice symptoms. These patterns highlight the TCM approach of looking at the whole body system to address the root cause of the condition.
TCM recommends specific formulas and herbs based on the diagnosed pattern. For Damp-Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder, Yin Chen Hao Tang is commonly prescribed. This formula contains key herbs like Virgate wormwood (Yin Chen), known for their properties to clear heat and expel dampness, thus addressing the excess heat and damp accumulation.
In cases where the pattern is identified as Spleen and Stomach Weakness, TCM practitioners may suggest formulas that strengthen these organs. These formulas aim to enhance digestion and nutrient absorption, indirectly helping resolve the jaundice by boosting the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The selection of these treatments in TCM is tailored to each individual infant, based on their unique symptoms and overall health constitution.
See more details below about Yin Chen Hao Tang, a herbal formula used to address newborn jaundice.
See more details below about Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen), a herb used to address newborn jaundice.
Newborn jaundice can be treated by these herbs when caused by excessive dampness in the body, aiding in eliminating damp through diuretic action.