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, tremor and coma in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat”. As you will see below, we have in record two 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 three 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 two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause convulsions

In Chinese Medicine convulsions 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 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, tremor and coma.

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

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

Three 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, tremor and coma.

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 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

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 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 Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat convulsions

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 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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with convulsions?

Because Mudan Peony Bark 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.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with convulsions?

Because Yam 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.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

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

Because Prepared Rehmannia 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.

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

Other symptoms often associated with convulsions

Dizziness Fever Sores Tetanus Restlessness Insomnia Nosebleed Bloody sputum Seizures Spasms