Colitis according to Chinese Medicine

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Colitis 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 colitis 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 colitis is often associated with poor appetite, forgetfulness and palpitations in the pattern “Heart and Spleen Deficiency”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of colitis we’ve identified that a herbal formula called Gui Pi Tang can help treat the patterns behind the symptom.

Heart and Spleen Deficiency, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause colitis

In Chinese Medicine colitis is a symptom for the pattern "Heart and Spleen Deficiency". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

The Heart can receive sufficient Blood from the Spleen, if the latter's transformation and transportation function work properly, providing sufficient nutrients for growth and development. In turn, Heart Blood circulates and supplies the Spleen with nutrients to better perform its functions.

In addition to colitis, other symptoms associated with Heart and Spleen Deficiency include poor appetite, forgetfulness and palpitations.

Heart and Spleen Deficiency 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 Heart and Spleen Deficiency here

A herbal formula that might help with colitis

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 colitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' of which colitis is a symptom.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat colitis

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with colitis?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with colitis as a symptom)

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Milkvetch Root (Huang Qi) help with colitis?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with colitis as a symptom)

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

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with colitis?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with colitis as a symptom)

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

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with colitis?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with colitis as a symptom)

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 Longan (Long Yan Rou) help with colitis?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with colitis as a symptom)

Longans is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Blood. Calms the spirit. Relieves fatigue, especially mental fatigue.

Read more about Longans here