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 irritability, constipation and abdominal pain in the pattern “Fire in Stomach and Intestines”. As you will see below, we have in record five 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 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 stools.

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

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

Fire in Stomach and Intestines

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

In addition to dry stools, other symptoms associated with Fire in Stomach and Intestines include irritability, constipation and abdominal pain.

Fire in Stomach and Intestines is often treated with Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner".

Read more about Fire in Stomach and Intestines 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

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, tinnitus and night sweats.

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 and Spleen Yin Deficiency

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

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

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

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

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

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

Tongue color: Red

In addition to dry stools, other symptoms associated with Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome.

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dry stools

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Why might Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang help with dry stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Fire in Stomach and Intestines' of which dry stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Fire In Stomach And Intestines include irritability, constipation and abdominal pain.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi 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

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Why might Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan help with dry stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys' of which dry stools is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan here

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

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 stools?

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

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

Read more about Shen Ling Bai Zhu San here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 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 Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan or Liang Di 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 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 Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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

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 Qing Jing San or Di Gu Pi Yin 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with dry stools?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dry stools as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Shen Ling Bai Zhu 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