Convulsions according to Chinese Medicine

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Convulsions 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 convulsions 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 convulsions is often associated with dizziness, coma and paralysis in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause convulsions.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause convulsions

In Chinese Medicine convulsions 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 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 convulsions, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat include dizziness, coma 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

Heat victorious stirring Wind

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

In addition to convulsions, other symptoms associated with Heat victorious stirring Wind include high fever, fainting 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

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 convulsions, other symptoms associated with Heat in Pericardium include delirium, coma and cold hands and feet.

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

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

Four herbal formulas that might help with convulsions

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 convulsions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat' of which convulsions is a symptom.

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

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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 convulsions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat victorious stirring Wind' of which convulsions is a symptom.

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

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng 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 convulsions?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat In Pericardium include delirium, coma and cold hands and feet.

Read more about Qing Ying Tang 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 convulsions?

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

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

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat convulsions

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

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat convulsions and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat convulsions as a symptom (such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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 Gastrodia Rhizome (Tian Ma) help with convulsions?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat convulsions and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat convulsions as a symptom (such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin for instance).

Gastrodia Rhizomes is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Liver.

Its main actions are: Calms Liver Wind. Sedates Liver Yang and relieves convulsions. Relieves Wind and stops pain.

Read more about Gastrodia Rhizomes here

Why might Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with convulsions?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat convulsions and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat convulsions as a symptom (such as Qing Ying Tang for instance).

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here

Why might Saiga Antelope's Horn (Ling Yang Jiao) help with convulsions?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat convulsions and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat convulsions as a symptom (such as Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang for instance).

Saiga Antelope's Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Clears Internal Liver Wind, subdues Yang. Clears Liver Fire and brightens the eyes. Eliminates toxins and reduces fever.

Read more about Saiga Antelope's Horns here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with convulsions?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat convulsions as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan 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

Other symptoms often associated with convulsions

Dizziness Fever Sores Tetanus Delirium Epilepsy Boils Seizures Restlessness Insomnia