Dry eyes according to Chinese Medicine

Dry eyes 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 dry eyes 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 dry eyes is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and insomnia in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause dry eyes.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dry eyes

In Chinese Medicine dry eyes 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 Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This is a type of empty Fire pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, but with extra signs of Dryness and Yin-Deficient Heat. It can be caused by excessive activity, overwork, 'burning the candle at both ends' without sufficient rest, and poor and irregular diet.

In addition to dry eyes, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency is often treated with Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Qi Ju 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: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Yin Deficiency 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): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to dry eyes, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-and-liver-yin-deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-and-liver-yin-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-and-liver-yin-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 and Liver Yin 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 Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to dry eyes, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-wind-agitating-internally-due-to-liver-yang-rising include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-wind-agitating-internally-due-to-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 Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dry eyes

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 dry eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency' of which dry eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan 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 dry eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/kidney-and-liver-yin-deficiency' of which dry eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei 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 dry eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-wind-agitating-internally-due-to-liver-yang-rising' of which dry eyes is a symptom.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Why might Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang help with dry eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-wind-agitating-internally-due-to-liver-yang-rising' of which dry eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Why might Bu Gan Tang help with dry eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-yin-deficiency' of which dry eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Gan Tang here

Acupuncture points used for dry eyes

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dry eyes

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with dry eyes?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry eyes as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Gui Pi Tang 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with dry eyes?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry eyes as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju 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 dry eyes?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry eyes 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

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dry eyes?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry eyes as a symptom, like Tiao Gan Tang 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with dry eyes?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry eyes as a symptom, like He Che Da Zao Wan or Shi Quan Da Bu Tang for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here