Coma according to Chinese Medicine

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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 convulsions, insomnia and dizziness in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising”. As you will see below, we have in record five 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 five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause coma

In Chinese Medicine coma is a symptom for 5 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 Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include convulsions, insomnia and dizziness.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

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 Hot-Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm Misting the Heart here

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

Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

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

Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart is often treated with Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Huang Lian 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 Hot Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart here

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

Heat in Pericardium

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

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Heat in Pericardium include convulsions, aphasia and mental confusion.

Heat in Pericardium is often treated with Qing Ying Tang, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Qing Ying Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears the Nutritive level Heat".

Read more about Heat in Pericardium here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Thick coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Stiff

The invasion of Exterior Wind-Heat leads to this pattern and it then transforms to Interior Wind and Heat.

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat include convulsions, dizziness and paralysis.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat 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 Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat here

Five herbal formulas that might help with coma

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Why might E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include convulsions, insomnia and dizziness.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. 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 coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm Misting The Heart include aphasia, mental confusion and incoherent speech.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1852 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

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

Why might Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart' of which coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fire Harassing The Heart include aphasia, mental confusion and incoherent speech.

Read more about Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang here

Qing Ying Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Clears the Nutritive level Heat. Relieves Fire Toxin. Removes Heat. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Qing Ying Tang help with coma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in Pericardium' of which coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat In Pericardium include convulsions, aphasia and mental confusion.

Read more about Qing Ying 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 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat' of which coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Extreme Heat include convulsions, dizziness and paralysis.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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 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 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 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

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

Why might Gambir Stem And Thorn (Gou Teng) help with coma?

Because Gambir Stem And Thorn is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin or Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang for instance.

Gambir Stems And Thorns is a Cool herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Calms Liver Wind and relieves spasms. Clears Liver Heat and sedates Liver Yang.

Read more about Gambir Stems And Thorns here

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with coma?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Qing Ying Tang or E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang for instance.

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here