Deafness according to Chinese Medicine

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Deafness 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 deafness 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 deafness is often associated with dizziness, tinnitus and irritability in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause deafness.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause deafness

In Chinese Medicine deafness 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.

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

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

In addition to deafness, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire include dizziness, tinnitus and irritability.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire 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 Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Essence Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

Kidney Essence (Jing 精) Deficiency usually involves Deficiency of Kidney Yin and, to some extent, Kidney Yang. Its symptoms are typically in relation to growth, development, reproduction, sexuality, bones, marrow, the brain, teeth, memory and hair.

In addition to deafness, other symptoms associated with Kidney Essence Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

Kidney Essence Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui 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: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney Essence Deficiency here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red

Long term Liver Yin Deficiency causes Liver Yang rising upwards. The treatment should be focused on subduing rising Yang as well as nourishing Liver Yin and Blood. It is also called Arrogant Liver Yang.

In addition to deafness, other symptoms associated with Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

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 Yang Rising here

Five herbal formulas that might help with deafness

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 deafness?

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

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang here

Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Kidney Yang. Strengthens the Essence.

Why might Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan help with deafness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Essence Deficiency' of which deafness is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan here

Tu Si Zi Wan

Source date: 1253 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Kidneys. Prevents abnormal leakage such as urinary incontinence or seminal emissions.

Why might Tu Si Zi Wan help with deafness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Essence Deficiency' of which deafness is a symptom.

Read more about Tu Si Zi Wan 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 deafness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yang Rising' of which deafness 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 deafness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yang Rising' of which deafness is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Acupuncture points used for deafness

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat deafness

Why might Magnetite (Ci Shi) help with deafness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat deafness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat deafness as a symptom (such as Zi Xue Dan for instance).

Magnetite is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Calms and sedates the spirit. Pacifies the Liver and calms the rising Liver Yang. Helps the Kidneys grasp Lung Qi. Improves hearing and eyesight.

Read more about Magnetite here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with deafness?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat deafness as a symptom, like Feng Yin Tang or Dao Chi 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with deafness?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat deafness as a symptom, like Dang Gui Long Hui Wan or Bu Gan 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with deafness?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat deafness as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Wan or Liu Wei 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

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with deafness?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat deafness as a symptom, like Bu Gan Tang or Si Wu Tang 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