Carbuncles according to Chinese Medicine

Carbuncles 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 carbuncles 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 carbuncles is often associated with boils, sore throat and coughing in the pattern “Toxic-Heat”.

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

Toxic-Heat, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause carbuncles

In Chinese Medicine carbuncles is a symptom for the pattern "Toxic-Heat". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Toxic-Heat

Toxic-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

In addition to carbuncles, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat include boils, sore throat and coughing.

Toxic-Heat is often treated with Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Yin Qiao San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Wind Heat".

Read more about Toxic-Heat here

Five herbal formulas that might help with carbuncles

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxin.

Why might Huang Lian Jie Du Tang help with carbuncles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which carbuncles is a symptom.

Read more about Huang Lian Jie Du Tang here

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Why might Yin Qiao San help with carbuncles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which carbuncles is a symptom.

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Why might Sang Ju Yin help with carbuncles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which carbuncles is a symptom.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin here

Bai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears Qi-level Heat. Drains Stomach Fire. Generates fluids. Alleviates thirst.

Why might Bai Hu Tang help with carbuncles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which carbuncles is a symptom.

Read more about Bai Hu Tang here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with carbuncles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which carbuncles is a symptom.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Acupuncture points used for carbuncles

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat carbuncles

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with carbuncles?

Because it is a key herb in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' (a pattern with carbuncles as a symptom)

Goldthread Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Liver, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites

Read more about Goldthread Rhizomes here

Why might Baikal Skullcap Root (Huang Qin) help with carbuncles?

Because it is a key herb in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' (a pattern with carbuncles as a symptom)

Baikal Skullcap Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Lung, the Small intestine and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome.

Read more about Baikal Skullcap Roots here

Why might Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with carbuncles?

Because it is a key herb in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' (a pattern with carbuncles as a symptom)

Phellodendron Bark is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Bladder, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness.

Read more about Phellodendron Bark here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with carbuncles?

Because it is a key herb in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' (a pattern with carbuncles as a symptom)

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 Honeysuckle Flower (Jin Yin Hua) help with carbuncles?

Because it is a key herb in Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' (a pattern with carbuncles as a symptom)

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

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

Other symptoms often associated with carbuncles

Sores Boils Sore throat Jaundice Coughing Fever Edema Dysentery Eczema Erysipelas