Convulsions according to Chinese Medicine

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 opisthotonos, high fever and fainting in the pattern “Heat victorious stirring Wind”. 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 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 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.

Heat victorious stirring Wind

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

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

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

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 convulsions, other symptoms associated with Interior Wind include fever, dizziness 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 convulsions

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.

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 convulsions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which convulsions 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 convulsions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which convulsions 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 convulsions?

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

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

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 convulsions?

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

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Acupuncture points used for convulsions

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 Chicken Egg Yolk (Ji Zi Huang) 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 E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang for instance).

Chicken Egg Yolks is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Nourishes Yin and moisturizes Dryness. Nourishes blood and dispels Wind.

Read more about Chicken Egg Yolks 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 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

Other symptoms often associated with convulsions

Fever Dizziness Sores Tetanus Insomnia Coma Delirium Epilepsy Boils Paralysis