Anemia according to Chinese Medicine

Anemia factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, anemia can be associated with six so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here anemia can be caused by six different patterns.

To understand whether someone's anemia might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from anemia alone. For instance when anemia is caused by the pattern Spleen Qi Deficiency, patients also experience symptoms such as pale complexion, weak voice, poor appetite and loose stools. Similarly, patients with Spleen Qi Deficiency typically exhibit soggy (Ru) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

We've listed below a description of the six patterns associated with anemia so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below six formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with anemia, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The six "patterns of disharmony" associated with anemia

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Soggy (Ru), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Si Jun Zi Tang

Symptoms: Weak voice Loose stools Poor appetite Pale complexion Weakness in the limbs

Anemia might be due to Spleen Qi Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as pale complexion, weak voice, poor appetite and loose stools. Similarly, patients with Spleen Qi Deficiency typically exhibit soggy (Ru) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Spleen Qi Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Anemia might be due to Kidney Yang Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as exhaustion from long-term illness, aversion to cold, cold extremities and impotence. Similarly, patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Gui Pi Tang

Symptoms: Fatigue Anxiety Insomnia Menorrhagia Palpitations Forgetfulness Poor appetite Pale complexion Abnormal uterine bleeding

Anemia might be due to Heart and Spleen Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as forgetfulness, palpitations, insomnia and fatigue. Similarly, patients with Heart and Spleen Deficiency typically exhibit fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Heart and Spleen Deficiency here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency

Anemia might be due to Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as palpitations, forgetfulness, restlnessness at night and feverishness.

Read more about Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency here

The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Lung Qi Deficiency

Recommended herbal formula: Ba Zhen Tang

Symptoms: Weak voice Aversion to speak Shortness of breath

Anemia might be due to Lung Qi Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as shortness of breath, weak voice and aversion to speak.

Read more about Lung Qi Deficiency here

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the key herb for Ba Zhen Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Recommended herbal formula: Ba Zhen Tang

Symptoms: Vertigo Pale face Pale lips Pale tongue Palpitations

Anemia might be due to Blood and Qi Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as palpitations, vertigo, pale face and pale lips.

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

The six herbal formulas that might help with anemia

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Tang help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Lung Qi Deficiency, Spleen Qi Deficiency and Blood and Qi Deficiency which are sometimes associated with anemia. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang here

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Spleen Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with anemia. If it looks like you might suffer from Spleen Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Kidney Yang Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with anemia. If it looks like you might suffer from Kidney Yang Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heart and Spleen Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with anemia. If it looks like you might suffer from Heart and Spleen Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Why might Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with anemia. If it looks like you might suffer from Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang here

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang

Source date: 1180 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Qi. Warms and tonifies Blood.

Why might Shi Quan Da Bu Tang help with anemia?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with anemia. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Shi Quan Da Bu Tang here