Breast pain according to Chinese Medicine

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

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause breast pain

In Chinese Medicine breast pain is a symptom for 4 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 breast pain, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include breast distention, breast lumps and depression.

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

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

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

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

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

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood 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 Qi and Blood 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 breast pain, other symptoms associated with Blow Breast (Chui Ru) include breast distention, breast lumps and breast hardness.

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

Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels

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

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

In addition to breast pain, other symptoms associated with Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels include breast distention, breast lumps and irritability.

Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels is often treated with Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan 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: "Promotes Blood and lymphatic circulation, thus eleminates Blood Stagnation".

Read more about Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels here

Five herbal formulas that might help with breast pain

Unblock Nursing Tea

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Alleviates milk blockages and uneven supply issues*

Rating: from 123 customer reviews

Why might Unblock Nursing Tea help with breast pain?

Designed by Me & Qi's expert practitioners to tackle some of the patterns that can cause breast pain, Unblock Nursing Tea is a 100% natural and vegan product composed solely of the 12 herbs listed in its ingredients.

Read more about Unblock Nursing Tea here

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

Why might Xia Ru Yong Quan San help with breast pain?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with breast pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which breast pain is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Xiao Yao 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 breast pain?

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

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.

Why might Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan help with breast pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stagnation in the Directing and Penetrating Vessels' of which breast pain is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood Stagnation In The Directing And Penetrating Vessels include breast distention, breast lumps and irritability.

Read more about Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat breast pain

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with breast pain?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat breast pain as a symptom, like Xia Ru Yong Quan San or Xiao Yao 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 Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with breast pain?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat breast pain as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with breast pain?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat breast pain as a symptom, like Tuo Li Xiao Du San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with breast pain?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat breast pain as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xia Ru Yong Quan San for instance.

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

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

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with breast pain?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat breast pain as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Me & Qi product associated with breast pain