Coma according to Chinese Medicine

fainting, loss of consciousness and unconsciousness redirect here

Coma 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 coma 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 coma is often associated with aphasia, mental confusion and incoherent speech in the pattern “Phlegm Misting the Heart”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause coma.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause coma

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

Phlegm Misting the Heart

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is a condition where Phlegm enters the Heart and disturbs the Mind (Shen).

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Phlegm Misting the Heart include aphasia, mental confusion and incoherent speech.

Phlegm Misting the Heart is often treated with Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Wen Dan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm Misting the Heart here

Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma) is the king ingredient for Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, a formula used for Interior Wind

Interior Wind

Pulse type(s): Fine (Xi), Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Interior Wind include convulsions, red face and insomnia.

Interior Wind is often treated with Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Gastrodia Rhizomes - Tian Ma - as a key herb). Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Calms the Liver".

Read more about Interior Wind here

Five herbal formulas that might help with coma

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm Misting the Heart' of which unconsciousness is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Why might Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which coma is a symptom.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang here

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which coma is a symptom.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

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 coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which coma is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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 coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which coma is a symptom.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Acupuncture points used for coma

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat coma

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with coma?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Wen Dan Tang 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with coma?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Di Tan Tang for instance.

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

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

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

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

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

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang 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 Bamboo Shaving (Zhu Ru) help with coma?

Because Bamboo Shaving is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang for instance.

Bamboo Shavings is a Cool herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Gallbladder, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs. Clears Heat in the Stomach and stops vomiting. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding.

Read more about Bamboo Shavings here