Dark menstrual blood according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Dark menstrual blood

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, abdominal pain and irritability in the pattern “Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record five 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 five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dark menstrual blood

In Chinese Medicine dark menstrual blood is a symptom for 5 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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to dark menstrual blood, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include dizziness, abdominal pain and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

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, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

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), Wiry (Xian), Firm (Lao)

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 scanty periods, dark clots in menstrual blood and abdominal pain.

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

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for Cold in the Uterus

Cold in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

There are two types of cold patterns: Full Cold or Empty Cold. Full cold refers to actual Cold Evil invading the Uterus and Dampness Stagnation often come along with this Full pattern. Empty cold is the result of Yang Deficiency, especially the Spleen and Kidney Yang.

In addition to dark menstrual blood, other symptoms associated with Cold in the Uterus include scanty periods, dark clots in menstrual blood and abdominal pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Cold in the Uterus is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Late Menstruation.

Cold in the Uterus is often treated with Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Wen Jing 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: "Warms the Uterus and vessels".

Read more about Cold in the Uterus here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

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

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

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 Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dark menstrual blood

Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Removes Stagnation. Drains Fire. Unblocks the Meridians.

Why might Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which dark menstrual blood is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao 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.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with dark menstrual blood?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Stops bleeding.

Why might Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang help with dark menstrual blood?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Scanty Menstruation.

Read more about Zhu Yu Zhi Xue Tang here

Da Ying Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Expels Cold.

Why might Da Ying Jian help with dark menstrual blood?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' of which dark menstrual blood is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Cold in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Da Ying Jian here

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 Xiao Yao San for instance.

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

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 Da Ying Jian 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 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 Spleen and the Liver.

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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with dark menstrual blood?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dark menstrual blood as a symptom, like Qing Jing San or Di Gu Pi Yin 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 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