Eye swelling according to Chinese Medicine

Eye swelling 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 eye swelling 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 eye swelling is often associated with oedema of face, poor appetite and loose stools in the pattern “Oedema”.

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

Oedema, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause eye swelling

In Chinese Medicine eye swelling is a symptom for the pattern "Oedema". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wu Ling San, a formula used for Oedema

Oedema

Pulse type(s): Hidden (Fu), Slowed-down (Huan)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Oedema manifests itself as swellings due to the retention of Body Fluids. Chinese Medicine believes that it originates from the leaking of Body Fluids from their normal pathways into the space between skin and muscles.

In addition to eye swelling, other symptoms associated with Oedema include oedema of face, poor appetite and loose stools.

Oedema is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Oedema here

Five herbal formulas that might help with eye swelling

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Why might Wu Ling San help with eye swelling?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which eye swelling is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema. Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Calms External Wind.

Why might Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang help with eye swelling?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which eye swelling is a symptom.

Read more about Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang here

Ping Wei San

Source date: 1051 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Dries Dampness. Improves the Spleen's transportive function. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Ping Wei San help with eye swelling?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which eye swelling is a symptom.

Read more about Ping Wei San here

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Why might Wu Pi Yin help with eye swelling?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which eye swelling is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin here

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with eye swelling?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which eye swelling is a symptom.

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here

Acupuncture points used for eye swelling

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat eye swelling

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with eye swelling?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat eye swelling as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Ling Gui Zhu Gan 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

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with eye swelling?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat eye swelling as a symptom, like Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang or Ping Wei San 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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with eye swelling?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat eye swelling as a symptom, like Xiao Qing Long Tang or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with eye swelling?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat eye swelling as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with eye swelling?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat eye swelling as a symptom, like Wu Ling San or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here