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 aphasia, mental confusion and incoherent speech in the pattern “Phlegm Misting the Heart”. As you will see below, we have in record four 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 four 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 four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause coma

In Chinese Medicine coma 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 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

Heat victorious stirring Wind

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

In addition to coma, other symptoms associated with Heat victorious stirring Wind include convulsions, high fever and opisthotonos.

Heat victorious stirring Wind is often treated with Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Saiga Antelope's Horns - Ling Yang Jiao - as a key herb). Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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: "Cools the Liver".

Read more about Heat victorious stirring Wind here

Four herbal formulas that might help with coma

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

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 'Heat victorious stirring Wind' of which coma is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Victorious Stirring Wind include convulsions, high fever and opisthotonos.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat coma

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 Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with coma?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome 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.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.

Read more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with coma?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coma as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Di Tan 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 Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with coma?

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

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

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