Dizziness according to Chinese Medicine

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Dizziness 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 dizziness 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 dizziness is often associated with tinnitus, back pain and frequent urination in the pattern “Kidney Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause dizziness.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dizziness

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

Kidney Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Characterised by frequent urination as the most distinguishing symptom. Kidney Qi Deficiency can be a precursor of Heart Qi Deficiency.

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms associated with Kidney Qi Deficiency include tinnitus, back pain and frequent urination.

Kidney Qi Deficiency is often treated with Qing E Wan, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Eucommia Bark - Du Zhong - as a key herb). Qing E Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and Reinforces Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidney Qi Deficiency here

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood.

This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms associated with Blood Deficiency include insomnia, scanty periods and blurred vision.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood Deficiency here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency include insomnia, scanty periods and blurred vision.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency is often treated with E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Donkey-Hide Gelatin - E Jiao - as a key herb). E Jiao Ji Zi Huang 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: "Nourishes Yin".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency here

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 dizziness, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat include convulsions, 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 Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to dizziness, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include insomnia, tinnitus and blurred vision.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency 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 Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dizziness

Qing E Wan

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms and Reinforces Kidney Yang.

Why might Qing E Wan help with dizziness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Qi Deficiency include tinnitus, back pain and frequent urination.

Read more about Qing E Wan here

Da Bu Yuan Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yin and Blood. Nourishes Qi and Yang.

Why might Da Bu Yuan Jian help with dizziness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Deficiency' of which dizziness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Da Bu Yuan Jian 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 dizziness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Blood Deficiency include insomnia, scanty periods and blurred vision.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Tiao Gan Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin.

Why might Tiao Gan Tang help with dizziness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which dizziness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Tiao Gan 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 dizziness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Extreme Heat include convulsions, tremor and coma.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dizziness

Why might Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong) help with dizziness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat dizziness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat dizziness as a symptom (such as Qing E Wan for instance).

Eucommia Bark is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys. Calms ascendant Liver Yang (hypertension/high blood pressure). Calms a restless fetus.

Read more about Eucommia Bark here

Why might Donkey-Hide Gelatin (E Jiao) help with dizziness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat dizziness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat dizziness as a symptom (such as E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang for instance).

Donkey-Hide Gelatin is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies and nourishes Blood. Stops bleeding. Moistens and lubricates Yin.

Read more about Donkey-Hide Gelatin here

Why might Abalone Shell (Shi Jue Ming) help with dizziness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat dizziness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat dizziness as a symptom (such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin for instance).

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

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms ascending Liver Yang. Clears Liver Heat that is obstructing the vision.

Read more about Abalone Shells here

Why might Gastrodia Rhizome (Tian Ma) help with dizziness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat dizziness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat dizziness 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 Eclipta Herb (Mo Han Lian) help with dizziness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat dizziness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat dizziness as a symptom (such as Er Zhi Wan for instance).

Eclipta Herbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Blood Heat and stops bleeding.

Read more about Eclipta Herbs here