Blisters according to Chinese Medicine

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Blisters 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 blisters 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 blisters is often associated with breast pain, breast distention and breast lumps in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause blisters.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of blisters we’ve identified two 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 blisters.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause blisters

In Chinese Medicine blisters is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to blisters, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include breast pain, breast distention and breast lumps.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Liver Qi Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). 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: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the king ingredient for Tuo Li Xiao Du San, a formula used for Blow Breast (Chui Ru)

Blow Breast (Chui Ru)

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to blisters, other symptoms associated with Blow Breast (Chui Ru) include breast pain, breast distention and breast lumps.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blow Breast (Chui Ru) is associated with health issues such as Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Blow Breast (Chui Ru) is often treated with Tuo Li Xiao Du San, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Tuo Li Xiao Du San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear internal abscesses and sores", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Draws out toxicity".

Read more about Blow Breast (Chui Ru) here

Two herbal formulas that might help with blisters

Gua Lou San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Remove breast carbuncle (mastitis) after birth giving.

Why might Gua Lou San help with blisters?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which blisters is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Mastitis.

Read more about Gua Lou San here

Tuo Li Xiao Du San

Source date: 1548 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Draws out toxicity. Expels pus from the interior. Tonifies Qi and Blood.

Why might Tuo Li Xiao Du San help with blisters?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blow Breast (Chui Ru)' of which blisters is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blow Breast (Chui Ru) can contribute to many health issues, including Mastitis.

Read more about Tuo Li Xiao Du San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat blisters

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

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat blisters as a symptom, like Gua Lou San or Tuo Li Xiao Du San 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 Angelica Root (Bai Zhi) help with blisters?

Because Angelica Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat blisters as a symptom, like Gua Lou San or Tuo Li Xiao Du San for instance.

Angelica Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind. Disperses Wind and Cold from the Yang Brightness channels. Relieves Wind-Damp Cold painful obstruction. Dries Dampness and pus and reduces swelling. Opens the nasal passages.

Read more about Angelica Roots here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with blisters?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat blisters as a symptom, like Tuo Li Xiao Du San or Gua Lou San for instance.

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

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 Honeysuckle Flower (Jin Yin Hua) help with blisters?

Because Honeysuckle Flower is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat blisters as a symptom, like Gua Lou San or Tuo Li Xiao Du San for instance.

Honeysuckle Flowers is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Dispels Wind-Heat derived from an External pathogen. Expels Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner. Relieves Carbuncles.

Read more about Honeysuckle Flowers here

Why might Snake Gourd (Gua Lou) help with blisters?

Because it is a key herb in Gua Lou San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern '' (a pattern with blisters as a symptom)

Snake Gourds is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Phlegm-Heat conditions with thick difficult to expectorate sputum. Regulates the Qi of the chest and relieves constriction and swellings of the chest and Lungs. Lubricates the Intestines.

Read more about Snake Gourds here