Anxiety according to Chinese Medicine

evening anxiety, nervousness and worry redirect here

Anxiety 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 anxiety 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 anxiety is often associated with insomnia, dizziness and night sweats in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/yin-deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause anxiety.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of anxiety 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 anxiety.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause anxiety

In Chinese Medicine anxiety 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.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/yin-deficiency

Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Red

In the case of Yin Deficiency, the body is short in the cooling, moistening and nurturing aspects. This leads to Heat and Dryness accompanied by weakness and lack of strength and resistance. Yin becomes Deficient by over-working, lack of sleep, over-exercising, overindulgence in sex, long-term chronic diseases, internal injury due to the seven emotions, and the over-eating of dry and hot-natured foods.

In addition to anxiety, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/yin-deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and night sweats.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/yin-deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Yin Deficiency here

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency

Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood. This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to anxiety, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood Deficiency here

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to anxiety, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

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

Heart Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) and it causes insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory, dizziness and tendency to be scared. It can be caused by Deficient Spleen Qi that fails to produce Blood, long-term anxiety and worry, a severe blood loss and excessive workload.

In addition to anxiety, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-blood-deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-blood-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Postpartum Depression.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-blood-deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Heart Blood Deficiency here

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

Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This is a type of empty Fire pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, but with extra signs of Dryness and Yin-Deficient Heat. It can be caused by excessive activity, overwork, 'burning the candle at both ends' without sufficient rest, and poor and irregular diet.

In addition to anxiety, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and night sweats.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency is often treated with Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Qi Ju Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Yin Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with anxiety

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with anxiety?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/yin-deficiency' of which anxiety is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

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 anxiety?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/blood-deficiency' of which slightly anxiety is a symptom.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with anxiety?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-yin-deficiency' of which anxiety is a symptom.

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

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

Why might Si Wu Tang help with anxiety?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-blood-deficiency' of which anxiety is a symptom.

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with anxiety?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency' of which nervousness is a symptom.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Acupuncture points used for anxiety

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat anxiety

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with anxiety?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat anxiety as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with anxiety?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat anxiety as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with anxiety?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat anxiety as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Si Wu Tang for instance.

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

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 Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with anxiety?

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat anxiety as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui Wan for instance.

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with anxiety?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat anxiety as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Bu Gan Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here