Orthostatic hypotension according to Chinese Medicine

Home > List of conditions > Orthostatic hypotension

Orthostatic hypotension factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, orthostatic hypotension can be associated with three 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 orthostatic hypotension can be caused by three different patterns.

To understand whether someone's orthostatic hypotension 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 orthostatic hypotension alone. For instance when orthostatic hypotension is caused by the pattern Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency, patients also experience symptoms such as abdominal pain that worsens with cold, urinary difficulty, deep aching and heaviness in the extremities and dizziness. Similarly, patients with Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

We've listed below a description of the three patterns associated with orthostatic hypotension 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 Zhen Wu Tang, a formula that can help treat the patterns Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency, Exterior Cold invading the Interior and Spleen Yang Deficiency.

The three "patterns of disharmony" associated with orthostatic hypotension

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

Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Tooth-marked, Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Zhen Wu Tang

Symptoms: Edema Coughing Vomiting Dizziness Loose stools Palpitations Urinary difficulty Heavy sensation in the head Abdominal pain that worsens with cold Deep aching and heaviness in the extremities

Orthostatic hypotension might be due to Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as abdominal pain that worsens with cold, urinary difficulty, deep aching and heaviness in the extremities and dizziness. Similarly, patients with Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit deep (Chen) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Zhen Wu Tang

Symptoms: Dizziness Unsteadiness Generalized twitching Palpitations in the epigastrium Sweating that doesnt reduce fever

Orthostatic hypotension might be due to Exterior Cold invading the Interior if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as sweating that doesnt reduce fever, palpitations in the epigastrium, dizziness and generalized twitching. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading the Interior typically exhibit deep (Chen) or fine (Xi) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior here

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Generally speaking, Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe. The common manifestations are these related to digestive functions such as loose stools, poor appetite, slight abdominal distension and pain after eating, gas and bloating. Since the Spleen fails to transport the Food Qi to the body, patients also suffer from general fatigue, lassitude, weak limbs, pale tongue and face. Patients prefers to lie down. 

On top of above, the Yang Deficiency also brings in additional Cold symptoms, such as a cold feeling and cold limbs. It is because Spleen Yang fails to warm the body and Organs. Therefore, the body metabolism get slower and some food are not digested properly and passes directly into the stools.

Since the Spleen fails to perform the function of transforming and transporting fluids, the circulation of Body Fluids is disturbed, causing symptoms such as Oedema, vaginal discharge and Lung mucus. The Yang Deficiency pattern is even more likely to form Dampness and Phlegm.

Read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency here

Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula that might help with orthostatic hypotension

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with orthostatic hypotension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency, Exterior Cold invading the Interior and Spleen Yang Deficiency which are sometimes associated with orthostatic hypotension. 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 Zhen Wu Tang here