Epilepsy according to Chinese Medicine

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In Chinese Medicine, epilepsy can be associated with five 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 epilepsy can be caused by five different patterns.

To understand whether someone's epilepsy 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 epilepsy alone. For instance when epilepsy is caused by the pattern Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner, patients also experience symptoms such as lower abdominal pain, night fever, delirious speech and irritability. Similarly, patients with Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner typically exhibit choppy (Se) or full (Shi) pulses.

We've listed below a description of the five patterns associated with epilepsy 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 five formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with epilepsy, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The five "patterns of disharmony" associated with epilepsy

The Triple Burner is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Triple Burner in Chinese Medicine

Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Full (Shi)

Recommended herbal formula: Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Amenorrhea Night fever Irritability Dysmenorrhea Restlnessness Delirious speech Lower abdominal pain

Epilepsy might be due to Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as lower abdominal pain, night fever, delirious speech and irritability. Similarly, patients with Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner typically exhibit choppy (Se) or full (Shi) pulses.

Read more about Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner here

Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) is the key herb for Yue Ju Wan, a formula used for Qi Stagnation

Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

Recommended herbal formula: Yue Ju Wan

Symptoms: Belching Vomiting Acid reflux Indigestion Poor appetite Fixed pain in the hypochondria Mild coughing with copious sputum Stifling sensation in the chest and abdomen

Epilepsy might be due to Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as stifling sensation in the chest and abdomen, fixed pain in the hypochondria, belching and vomiting. Similarly, patients with Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a normal (light red) tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Qi Stagnation here

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

Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Tight (Jin)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Symptoms: Coughing Dizziness Headaches Depression Moving pain Listlessness Hypochondrium fullness

Epilepsy might be due to Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as coughing, hypochondrium fullness, dizziness and headaches. Similarly, patients with Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit empty (Xu) or tight (Jin) pulses as well as a normal (light red), pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation here

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Wheezing No thirst Absence of sweating Generalized body pain Alternating fever and chills General sensation of heaviness Stifling sensation in the chest Coughing of copious thin and white sputum

Epilepsy might be due to Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating, wheezing and stifling sensation in the chest. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Epilepsy might be due to Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus. Similarly, patients with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue.

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

The five herbal formulas that might help with epilepsy

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dispels Heat and. Eliminates Blood Stagnation.

Why might Tao He Cheng Qi Tang help with epilepsy?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner, a pattern sometimes associated with epilepsy. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Tao He Cheng Qi Tang here

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Why might Yue Ju Wan help with epilepsy?

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

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with epilepsy?

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

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with epilepsy?

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

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with epilepsy?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising, a pattern sometimes associated with epilepsy. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here