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 mouth, dry stools and fatigue in the pattern “Stomach and Spleen Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four 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 four 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 four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dry lips

In Chinese Medicine dry lips is a symptom for 4 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 mouth, dry stools and fatigue.

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

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 dry lips, other symptoms associated with Blood Deficiency include dizziness, dry skin and amenorrhea.

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

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 skin, dry mouth and dry stools.

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

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Gui Pi Tang, a formula used for Qi and Blood Deficiency

Qi and Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan), Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

In addition to dry lips, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Deficiency include dizziness, dry skin and dry hair.

Qi and Blood Deficiency is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Qi and Blood Deficiency here

Four 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 mouth, dry stools and fatigue.

Read more about Shen Ling Bai Zhu San here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with dry lips?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood Deficiency include dizziness, dry skin and amenorrhea.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang 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 skin, dry mouth and dry stools.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang here

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Tang help with dry lips?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Qi And Blood Deficiency include dizziness, dry skin and dry hair.

Read more about Ba Zhen 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 Gui Pi 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dry lips?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 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 Ba Zhen Tang 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with dry lips?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Xing Su San or Ba Zhen Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with dry lips?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry lips as a symptom, like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here