Blood Stagnation

Home > Patterns of disharmony > Blood Stagnation

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 血瘀      Pinyin name: Xuè Yū

Pattern nature: Full

Pattern hierarchy: General pattern with specific forms like Liver Blood Stagnation or Heart Blood Stagnation

Common combinations: Qi And Blood Stagnation

Causes

Precursor patterns: Qi Deficiency Qi Stagnation Heat in the Blood and nine other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Emotional stress, 2. Traumas or severe injuries, 3. Difficult childbirth, abortion, miscarriage and menopause

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Lumps Dark face Purple lips Purple nails Painful period and five other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian), Firm (Lao)

Tongue description: Purple tongue

Treatment

Treatment principle: Invigorate Blood and Qi, Unblock the Liver Stagnation

Common formulas: Tao He Cheng Qi Tang Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Pathology

Blood Stagnation - also often referred to as "Blood Stasis" - is where the Blood flow is heavily restricted in all or parts of the body. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the body.

It differs from Qi Stagnation: pain associated with stagnant Qi tends to move and change locations and intensity of sensation, while Stagnant Blood results in a fixed stabbing pain. Also when a stagnant Qi doesn't lead to skin symptoms, Blood Stagnation often leads to signs on the skin such as purple blotches or bruises, purple lips,  face and nails.

The causes for Blood stagnation can include:

  • Qi Stagnation: this is the most common cause of Blood Stagnation since Qi moves Blood. As a result if Qi stagnates then Blood stagnates.
  • Qi Deficiency: again, Qi moves Blood. Therefore it is logical that if Qi becomes too weak, this would result in its Blood-moving function not being performed optimally.
  • Heat in the Blood: this may cause the Blood to condense and therefore stagnate.
  • Blood Deficiency: since Qi and Blood move together, a Blood Deficiency over the long term may result in a Qi Deficiency which, as explained above, may induce Blood Stagnation.
  • Interior Cold: Cold congeals Blood which slows down its flow.
  • Phlegm: although Phlegm doesn't directly induce Blood Stagnation, it is an aggravating factor.
  • Liver disorders: since the Liver "stores the Blood".
  • Spleen disorders: since a function of the Spleen is to maintain Blood in the vessels.
  • Traumas or severe injuries
  • Difficult childbirth, abortion, miscarriage and menopause
  • Some gynecological diseases

Blood Stagnation is a condition of toxicity which the main distinguishing symptom is pain that is fixed in one place, and is of a boring or stabbing character. Most commonly the pain is located in the lower abdominal area. 

To determine this, lie on your back with legs flexed, then rather gently at first, palpate the lower abdomen below the umbilicus, especially the left and right sides. If there is severe Blood Stagnation, you will usually feel pain upon palpation. Milder Stagnation may result in lumps or swelling in the area.

Other symptoms of Blood Stagnation can include traumatic swelling, blotchy skin, increase in skin capillaries, red spots and varicosities, coarseness of the skin and discoloration, itchy scalp, shoulder stiffness, dizziness and numbness. The tongue may exhibit a purplish cast especially noticeable on the sides, and there may be a tendency to bleed. There may be a feeling of abdominal fullness, even when there isn't any, especially in women before menses. 

The Organ that is most frequently affected by Blood Stagnation is the Liver. Other Organs that are commonly affected are the Heart, Lungs, Stomach, Intestines and Uterus.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Blood Stagnation can derive from Qi Deficiency Qi Stagnation Heat in the Blood Phlegm Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs Phlegm Misting the Heart Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium Pericardium Qi Stagnation Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

Emotional stress: Prolonged or intense emotional stress disturbs the Mind (Shen) and causes disharmony in Organs, Qi and Blood. According to TCM, all 7 emotions (Anger, Joy, Sadness, Worry, Pensiveness, Fear, and Shock) has some effect on Qi and Blood Stagnation. Pensiveness and Worry are supposed to knot Qi the most and cause Qi Stagnation, which then lead to Blood Stagnation.  On the other hand, the Liver stores the Blood and this function can be largely disturbed by anger.

Traumas or severe injuries: Traumas or severe injures such as bruises, sprains and swelling can cause Blood stasis under skins.

Difficult childbirth, abortion, miscarriage and menopause: Difficult childbirth, abortion, miscarriage and menopause or other genealogical diseases can cause Blood Stagnation.

Diagnosing Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), wiry (Xian) or firm (Lao)

Tongue description: Purple tongue

Main symptoms: Lumps Dark face Purple lips Purple nails Painful period Abdominal mass Abdominal masses Dark colored blood Boring fixed stabbing pain Dark clots in menstrual blood

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the pain that is boring, stabbing and fixed in one place. The pain is often around the chest area. Dark or purple face, lips, nails and tongue are the other typical manifestations.

Treating Blood Stagnation

Treatment principle

Invigorate Blood and Qi, Unblock the Liver Stagnation 

Herbal formulas used to treat Blood Stagnation

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes Blood and lymphatic circulation, thus eleminates Blood Stagnation. Softens and resolves hard lumps such as cysts and fibroids.

Formula summary

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan is also used to treat Qi And Blood Stagnation or Blood Stagnation and Phlegm in the Uterus.

Read more about Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dispels Heat and. Eliminates Blood Stagnation.

Formula summary

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Tao He Cheng Qi Tang is also used to treat Greater Yang Accumulation of Blood or Heat and Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner.

Read more about Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Clears Stagnant Heat in the intestines. Reduces swelling and disperses lumps.

Formula summary

Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear internal abscesses and sores.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang is also used to treat Blood Stagnation with Heat.

Read more about Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang

Related conditions

Intermenstrual bleeding Heavy menstruation Abnormal uterine bleeding Scanty menstruation

Special highlight: the link between scanty menstruation and Blood Stagnation

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the key herb for Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, a formula used for scanty menstruation caused by Blood Stagnation

Blood Stagnation in the Uterus can be caused by traumas and abdominal surgery, especially due to the adhesions formed after repeated operations. Another cause is when emotional stress leads to Liver Qi stagnation which itself can lead to Liver Blood Stagnation if the situation becomes chronic. 

Blood Stagnation can also be caused by internal Cold in the Uterus. It is a common reason for young school girls who have scanty period because they do sport outdoor on cold and damp days and don't wear...Read more about scanty menstruation

Special highlight: the link between abnormal uterine bleeding and Blood Stagnation

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the key herb for Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, a formula used for abnormal uterine bleeding caused by Blood Stagnation

Typical symptoms for abnormal uterine bleeding caused by Blood Stagnation: Dark face Hesitant periods Premenstrual pain Dark colored blood Dark clots in menstrual blood Abdominal distention and fullness

Recommended herbal formulas: Tao Hong Si Wu Tang, Shi Xiao San

The Blood Stagnation type of abnormal uterine bleeding is characterized by dark clots and dark menstruation color. The periods are unpredictable as they seem to stop but then start again trickling for a while or even with a flood. There is often premenstrual pain as well.

The pathology is that the stagnant Blood accumulates in the Uterus and the vessels. Therefore the newly-created Blood has no place to go and spills out. Women just went through childbirth often experience Blood Stagnation and...Read more about abnormal uterine bleeding

Consequence patterns

Heat in the Blood

When Blood stagnates, it blocks the vessels and accumulate Heat, which then cause bleeding with very dark Blood. 

Loss of Blood

When Blood stagnates, it blocks the vessels and accumulate Heat, which then cause bleeding with very dark Blood and often clots. The volume is comparatively scanty as the majority of Blood are stagnated. 

If the Loss of Blood is caused by other type of Heat in the Blood, the quantity is often profuse and the color is red or dark.