Blood Stagnation

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 血滞

Pinyin name: Xuè Zhì

Associated TCM concepts: Blood

Related conditions: Heavy menstruation Scanty menstruation Intermenstrual bleeding and one other conditions

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Lumps Dark face Purple lips Purple nails Restlessness and eleven other symptoms

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

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

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 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.

Related conditions

Intermenstrual bleeding Heavy menstruation Abnormal uterine bleeding Scanty menstruation

Diagnosing Blood Stagnation

Blood (Xue) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Blood in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Blood Stagnation will tend to exhibit choppy (Se), wiry (Xian) or firm (Lao) pulses as well as a reddish-purple tongue.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Blood Stagnation might experience symptoms like stabbing pain, abdominal masses, purple nails and painful period (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Blood Stagnation

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Formula summary

Si Wu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Blood Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

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 with Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) and Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling) as principal ingredients. 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

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Formula summary

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong), Safflowers (Hong Hua) and Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1830 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang is also used to treat Liver Blood Stagnation or Blood Stasis in the Stomach.

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

Formula summary

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1830 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang is also used to treat Cold in the Uterus or Qi and Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Source date: 1291 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Blood and regulates the Liver. Moves Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen. Stops pain.

Formula summary

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) and Safflowers (Hong Hua) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1291 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Tao Hong Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Qi and Blood Stagnation or Blood Deficiency and Stagnation.

Read more about Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Formula summary

Shi Xiao San is a 2-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Cattail Pollen (Pu Huang) and Flying Squirrel Faeces (Wu Ling Zhi) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1108 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Blood Stagnation, Shi Xiao San is also used to treat Liver Blood Stagnation or Blood Stasis in the Stomach.

Read more about Shi Xiao San

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 with Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) and Rhubarb (Da Huang) as principal ingredients. 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 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 with Rhubarb (Da Huang) as a principal ingredient. 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

Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Stops bleeding.

Formula summary

Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1826 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang

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