Abnormal uterine bleeding according to Chinese Medicine

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Abnormal uterine bleeding can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like abnormal uterine bleeding here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here abnormal uterine bleeding is often associated with poor appetite, fatigue and pale complexion in the pattern “Spleen not controlling Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of abnormal uterine bleeding we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat abnormal uterine bleeding.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause abnormal uterine bleeding

In Chinese Medicine abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Spleen not controlling Blood

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

In addition to abnormal uterine bleeding, other symptoms associated with Spleen not controlling Blood include poor appetite, fatigue and pale complexion.

Spleen not controlling Blood is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Spleen not controlling Blood here

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Loss of Blood

Loss of Blood

In addition to abnormal uterine bleeding, other symptoms associated with Loss of Blood include bloody sputum, epistaxis and menorrhagia.

Loss of Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Loss of Blood here

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

Damp-Heat in the Liver

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

This pattern is caused by excessive Heat in the Liver and Dampness due to Spleen Deficiency. Dampness can cause the formation of Phlegm.  Patients often have a feeling of fullness. It is often caused by bad diet and lifestyle, hot and damp environment and emotional stress such as anger.

In addition to abnormal uterine bleeding, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Liver include poor appetite, vomiting and irregular menstruation.

Damp-Heat in the Liver is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Liver here

The Triple Burner is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Triple Burner in Chinese Medicine

Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner caused by Cold

In addition to abnormal uterine bleeding, other symptoms associated with Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner caused by Cold include dark clots in menstrual blood, abdominal masses and lower abdominal pain.

Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner caused by Cold is often treated with Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Szechuan Lovage Roots - Chuan Xiong - as a key herb). Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood".

Read more about Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner caused by Cold here

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

Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat

In addition to abnormal uterine bleeding, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat include palpitations, irritability and spontaneous sweating.

Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat is often treated with Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Jia Wei Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat here

Five herbal formulas that might help with abnormal uterine bleeding

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen not controlling Blood' of which abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Not Controlling Blood include poor appetite, fatigue and pale complexion.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

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.

Why might Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stagnation in the Lower Burner caused by Cold' of which abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood Stagnation In The Lower Burner Caused By Cold include dark clots in menstrual blood, abdominal masses and lower abdominal pain.

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat' of which abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation With Spleen Qi Deficiency That Transforms Into Heat include palpitations, irritability and spontaneous sweating.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Loss of Blood' of which abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Loss Of Blood include bloody sputum, epistaxis and menorrhagia.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Why might Yin Chen Hao Tang help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' of which abnormal uterine bleeding is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Liver include poor appetite, vomiting and irregular menstruation.

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat abnormal uterine bleeding

Why might Milkvetch Root (Huang Qi) help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat abnormal uterine bleeding and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom (such as Gui Pi Tang for instance).

Milkvetch Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Wei Qi and stops perspiration. Tonifies the Spleen Qi and the Yang Qi of the Earth Element. Tonifies the Qi and Blood. Expels pus and assists in the healing of wounds. Helps to regulate water metabolism in the body and reduce edema.

Read more about Milkvetch Roots here

Why might Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat abnormal uterine bleeding and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom (such as Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance).

Dried Ginger is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Stomach, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and expels Cold. Restores collapse of Yang and expels Interior Cold. Warms the Lungs and assists expectoration of Cold Phlegm. Stops chronic bleeding caused by Cold.

Read more about Dried Ginger here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom, like Yin Chen Hao Tang or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with abnormal uterine bleeding?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat abnormal uterine bleeding as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Other symptoms often associated with abnormal uterine bleeding

Tinnitus Sores Palpitations Hematemesis Hematochezia Dizziness Night sweats Diarrhea Insomnia Nosebleed