Dark menstrual blood according to Chinese Medicine

Dark menstrual blood 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 dark menstrual blood 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 dark menstrual blood is often associated with dizziness, scanty periods and dark clots in menstrual blood in the pattern “Heat in the Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause dark menstrual blood.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dark menstrual blood

In Chinese Medicine dark menstrual blood is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to dark menstrual blood, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include dizziness, scanty periods and dark clots in menstrual blood.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang 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: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Blood Stagnation

Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Firm (Lao), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

Blood Stagnation, like the name indicates, is when Blood flow becomes Stagnant. It can happen in the whole body or in specific Organs. It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the body.

In addition to dark menstrual blood, other symptoms associated with Blood Stagnation include dizziness, scanty periods and dark clots in menstrual blood.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Scanty Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Blood Stagnation is often treated with Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Tao He Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dispels Heat and".

Read more about Blood Stagnation here

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a formula used for Qi And Blood Stagnation

Qi And Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

In addition to dark menstrual blood, other symptoms associated with Qi And Blood Stagnation include dizziness, scanty periods and dark clots in menstrual blood.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi And Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi And Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Qi And Blood Stagnation here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dark menstrual blood

Gu Jing Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin . Clears Heat. Stops bleeding. Stabilizes the menses.

Why might Gu Jing Wan help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which dark colored blood is a symptom.

Read more about Gu Jing Wan here

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Why might Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stagnation' of which dark colored blood is a symptom.

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang here

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi And Blood Stagnation' of which dark menstrual blood is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Why might Shi Xiao San help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi And Blood Stagnation' of which dark colored blood is a symptom.

Read more about Shi Xiao San here

Dan Shen Yin

Source date: 1801 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates the Blood and removes Blood Stagnation . Promote Qi movement . Relieves pain .

Why might Dan Shen Yin help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Stagnation' of which dark colored blood is a symptom.

Read more about Dan Shen Yin here

Acupuncture points used for dark menstrual blood

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dark menstrual blood

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang or Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Peach Kernel (Tao Ren) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because Peach Kernel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Tao He Cheng Qi Tang or Tao Hong Si Wu Tang for instance.

Peach Kernels is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood and breaks up Stasis. Moistens the Intestines. Relieves coughing.

Read more about Peach Kernels here