Urolithiasisaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Urinary Stone Disorders

Sub-symptom(s): Urinary Tract Calculi

What is Urolithiasis?

Urolithiasis refers to the formation of stones, known as calculi, in any part of the urinary system. Stones can form in the kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra, causing pain, obstruction, and other complications. These calculi are typically composed of minerals and acid salts and can range widely in size. Symptoms may include intense pain, hematuria, and nausea. Urolithiasis often requires medical intervention to remove or break down the stones, especially if they obstruct urinary flow or cause recurrent infections.

How does TCM view Urolithiasis?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches urolithiasis not as an isolated condition but as a sign of systemic imbalance. TCM theory posits that symptoms arise from disharmonious patterns within the body's energy system.

Urolithiasis, in TCM, is often associated with stagnation and accumulation, such as Damp-Heat in the urinary tract, leading to the crystallization of minerals. Treatment focuses on restoring balance, enhancing flow, and dissolving stagnation, which differs markedly from the surgical and pharmacological approaches of Western medicine.

Causes of Urolithiasis According to TCM

TCM links the formation of urinary stones to imbalances in the body's internal environment. A common TCM pattern associated with urolithiasis is Damp-Heat or Damp-Cold, where an Excess of Heat or Cold combined with Dampness in the body crystallizes into stones.

Emotional stress and dietary habits can exacerbate this pattern, leading to the symptoms associated with stones. TCM treatments aim to address these patterns, clear Damp-Heat, and prevent the recurrence of stones by promoting a harmonious flow of Qi and fluids within the body.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Urolithiasis

When treating urolithiasis, TCM practitioners may prescribe formulas such as Shi Wei San and Wu Lin San, which are designed to alleviate Damp-Cold in the Bladder and support the body's natural stone-resolving mechanisms. Da Cheng Qi Tang is employed for its purgative action in cases of Heat accumulation, while Dao Chi San can be effective for addressing Full-Heat in the Small Intestine.

In cases of concurrent Summer-Heat patterns, Liu Yi San, with its cooling properties, is beneficial. Each formula is chosen based on the individual's specific pattern of disharmony to ensure that the treatment is as effective as possible in not only managing the symptoms but also addressing the root cause of the condition.

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

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that clear heat and expel dampness
  • Formulas that purge heat accumulation
  • Formulas that clear heat from the organs
  • Formulas that dispel summer-Heat and facilitate resolution of dampness
  • Formulas that harmonize liver-Spleen
  • Formulas that warm the middle and dispel cold
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation

All "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness" recommended for urolithiasis

Formula Key herbs
Shi Wei San
Wu Lin San Cape Jasmine Fruits (Zhi Zi)
Ba Zheng San Chinese Pink Herbs (Qu Mai), Knotgrass (Bian Xu)

TCM Herbs for Urolithiasis

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

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that drain dampness
  • Purgative herbs that drain downward
  • Herbs that clear heat and dry dampness
  • Herbs that relieve food stagnation
  • Tonic herbs for yang deficiency
  • Herbs that clear heat and relieve toxicity
  • Cool/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Herbs that clear heat and purge fire and/or clear summer heat
  • Herbs that warm the interior and/or expel cold
  • Tonic herbs for blood deficiency

"Herbs that drain Dampness" recommended for urolithiasis

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Akebia Stems (Mu Tong) Dao Chi San
Talc (Hua Shi) Liu Yi San
Chinese Pink Herbs (Qu Mai) Ba Zheng San
Knotgrass (Bian Xu) Ba Zheng San
Gold Coin Herb (Jin Qian Cao) Not applicable
Mallow Seeds (Dong Kui Zi) Not applicable
Pyrrosia Leaves (Shi Wei) Not applicable

"Purgative herbs that drain downward" recommended for urolithiasis

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Rhubarb (Da Huang) Da Cheng Qi Tang
Niter (Xiao Shi) Not applicable