Pancreatis according to Chinese Medicine

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In Chinese Medicine, pancreatis can be associated with four 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 pancreatis can be caused by four different patterns.

To understand whether someone's pancreatis 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 pancreatis alone. For instance when pancreatis is caused by the pattern Phlegm Heat in the Lungs, patients also experience symptoms such as constipation, bitter taste in the mouth, coughing of copious thick yellow sputum and chest pain. Similarly, patients with Phlegm Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, yellow coating.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" associated with pancreatis

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

Phlegm Heat in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Symptoms: Clump Phlegm Chest pain Constipation Epigastric pain Clumping in the chest Bitter taste in the mouth Epigastric focal distention Focal distention of the chest Coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

Pancreatis might be due to Phlegm Heat in the Lungs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as constipation, bitter taste in the mouth, coughing of copious thick yellow sputum and chest pain. Similarly, patients with Phlegm Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Phlegm Heat in the Lungs here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Pulse type(s): Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Grey or black coating, Yellow coating

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Flatulence Focal distention Abdominal fullness Severe constipation Tense and firm abdomen Abdominal pain that increases upon pressure

Pancreatis might be due to Heat in Yang brightness Organs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as severe constipation, flatulence, focal distention and abdominal fullness. Similarly, patients with Heat in Yang brightness Organs typically exhibit full (Shi) pulses as well as a tongue with grey or black coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Heat in Yang brightness Organs here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Yang Excess

Yang Excess

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Fever Thirst Red face Irritability Restlnessness Scanty dark urination Yellow vaginal discharge

Yang Excess is a Full Yang state and its symptoms are similar to those are caused by the Heat Pernicious invasion. Yang is associated with Heat, activity and Dryness and these are the general symptoms when patients have Excess Yang. However, they become more specific depending on the Organ involved. For instance, Excess Liver Yang can cause migraines, or Excess Heart Yang can result in manic behavior and extreme restlessness. When there is Excess Yang, the body is in a hyperfunctional state. Over time, the Body Fluids can be "burned off" by the presence of Excessive Yang, resulting in a condition of Yin Deficiency.

Excess Yang is most likely caused by the Heat Pernicious Influence, either External or Internal. It can also be caused by internal damage from the Seven Emotions, the Stagnation of Qi or Blood, over-exposure to hot climates or environments, indigestion, and the over consumption of hot-natured and fried greasy foods, coffee, alcohol and red meat.

Read more about Yang Excess 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

Pancreatis 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

The three herbal formulas that might help with pancreatis

Da Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Relieves constipation.

Why might Da Cheng Qi Tang help with pancreatis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Heat in Yang brightness Organs and Yang Excess which are sometimes associated with pancreatis. 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 Da Cheng Qi Tang here

Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Phlegm. Expands the chest. Dissipates clumps.

Why might Xiao Xian Xiong Tang help with pancreatis?

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

Read more about Xiao Xian Xiong Tang 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 pancreatis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with pancreatis. 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