Dry lips according to Chinese Medicine

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Dry lips 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 lips 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 lips is often associated with dry stools, poor appetite and dry mouth in the pattern “Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause dry lips.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of dry lips we’ve identified three 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 lips.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dry lips

In Chinese Medicine dry lips is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency

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

In addition to dry lips, other symptoms associated with Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency include dry stools, poor appetite and dry mouth.

Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency is often treated with Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Shen Ling Bai Zhu San belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Augments the Qi".

Read more about Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency here

Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren) is the king ingredient for Xing Su San, a formula used for Body Fluids Deficiency

Body Fluids Deficiency

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

Tongue shape: Cracked

If Body Fluids - all liquids in the body other than Blood - are Deficient, then this leads to many symptoms of Dryness.

In addition to dry lips, other symptoms associated with Body Fluids Deficiency include dry stools, dry tongue and dry skin.

Body Fluids Deficiency is often treated with Xing Su San, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Apricot Seeds - Xing Ren - as a key herb). Xing Su San belongs to the category of "formulas that disperse dryness and moisten", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Dry-Cold".

Read more about Body Fluids Deficiency here

Three herbal formulas that might help with dry lips

Shen Ling Bai Zhu San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Augments the Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Leaches out Dampness. Stops diarrhea.

Why might Shen Ling Bai Zhu San help with dry lips?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency' of which dry lips is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach And Spleen Yin Deficiency include dry stools, poor appetite and dry mouth.

Read more about Shen Ling Bai Zhu San here

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Why might Bai He Gu Jin Tang help with dry lips?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Body Fluids Deficiency' of which dry lips is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Body Fluids Deficiency include dry stools, dry tongue and dry skin.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang here

Zeng Ye Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and Essence. Lubricates Dryness.

Why might Zeng Ye Tang help with dry lips?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Body Fluids Deficiency' of which dry lips is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Body Fluids Deficiency include dry stools, dry tongue and dry skin.

Read more about Zeng Ye Tang here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San or Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 Dwarf Lilyturf Root (Mai Dong) help with dry lips?

Because Dwarf Lilyturf Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Zeng Ye Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang for instance.

Dwarf Lilyturf Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Replenishes Yin Essence and promotes secretions. Lubricates and nourishes the Stomach. Soothes the Lung. Nourishes the Heart.

Read more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with dry lips?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San or Xing Su San for instance.

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

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

Why might Platycodon Root (Jie Geng) help with dry lips?

Because Platycodon Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Xing Su San or Bai He Gu Jin Tang for instance.

Platycodon Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Opens the Lungs and smoothes the flow of Lung Qi. Expels Phlegm and pus from the Lungs and throat, can be used for either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat according to the other herbs in the formula. Directs the actions of other herbs to the Upper Warmer.

Read more about Platycodon Roots here

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with dry lips?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Zeng Ye Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang for instance.

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here