Dry stools according to Chinese Medicine

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Dry stools 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 stools 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 stools is often associated with dizziness, dry throat and scanty periods in the pattern “Heat in the Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause dry stools.

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

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

In Chinese Medicine dry stools 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.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to dry stools, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include dizziness, dry throat and scanty periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

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

Stomach Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Stomach Yin Deficiency causes Dryness and Heat, which harms the Organ's ability of receiving and ripening foods and drinks. It is the result of prolonged unbalanced diet and irregular eating habits.

In addition to dry stools, other symptoms associated with Stomach Yin Deficiency include dry throat, dry mouth and constipation.

Stomach Yin Deficiency is often treated with Mai Men Dong Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dwarf Lilyturf Roots - Mai Dong - as a key herb). Mai Men Dong Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Stomach".

Read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency here

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to dry stools, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include dizziness, irritability and constipation.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

Four herbal formulas that might help with dry stools

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

Why might Liang Di Tang help with dry stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which dry stools is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Liang Di Tang here

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Why might Yi Wei Tang help with dry stools?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Yin Deficiency include dry throat, dry mouth and constipation.

Read more about Yi Wei Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with dry stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which dry stools is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Qing Jing San

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Blood-Heat. Stops bleeding.

Why might Qing Jing San help with dry stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which dry stools is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Qing Jing San here

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

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

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Liang Di Tang or Yi Wei 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

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with dry stools?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Qing Jing San for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Dwarf Lilyturf Root (Mai Dong) help with dry stools?

Because Dwarf Lilyturf Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Mai Men Dong Tang or Yi Wei 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dry stools?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xuan Yu Tong Jing 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with dry stools?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

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