Oedema

Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 水肿

Pinyin name: Shuǐ Zhǒng

Associated TCM concepts: Body Fluids

Related conditions: Urticaria Pre-eclampsia Menopausal edema and three other conditions

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Oedema of legs Oedema of face Oedema of feet Oedema of hands Oedema of ankles and four other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan), Hidden (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Oedema (also spelled "Edema") a retention of Body Fluids that results in swellings, depending where the retention occurs: it can be in the limbs, the legs, the face, etc. The swellings are usually so that if one presses on it with a finger, the resulting dip takes a long time to disappear.

Oedema is caused by a Yang Deficiency of either the Spleen, the Lungs or the Kidneys. Those are the three Organs most associated with the production and transportation of Body Fluids. If their function is disturbed due to a Yang Deficiency, the Body Fluids end up overflowing and settling in the space under the skin.

The location of the Oedema depends on the Organ that suffers the Deficiency:

  • Lungs: top part of the body, such as the face or the hands.
  • Spleen: middle part of the body, such as the abdomen.
  • Kidneys: lower part of the body, such as the legs or ankles.

Related conditions

Urticaria Congestive heart failure Ascites from cirrhosis Pre-eclampsia Protein-deficiency edema Menopausal edema

Diagnosing Oedema

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids 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 Oedema will tend to exhibit slowed-down (Huan) or hidden (Fu) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Oedema might experience symptoms like oedema of ankles, oedema of legs, oedema of hands and oedema of face (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Oedema

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Formula summary

Wu Ling San is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Water Plantain (Ze Xie) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote urination and leach out Dampness.

Besides Oedema, Wu Ling San is also used to treat Yin Excess or Phlegm.

Read more about Wu Ling San

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema. Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Calms External Wind.

Formula summary

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Stephania Roots (Fang Ji) and Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) as principal ingredients. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote urination and leach out Dampness.

Besides Oedema, Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang is also used to treat Wind-Damp.

Read more about Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Formula summary

Wu Pi Yin is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Poria-Cocos Mushrooms (Fu Ling), Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi) and Ginger Peel (Sheng Jiang Pi) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1107 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote urination and leach out Dampness.

Besides Oedema, Wu Pi Yin is also used to treat Yin Excess.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin