Forgetfulness according to Chinese Medicine

Forgetfulness 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 forgetfulness 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 forgetfulness is often associated with fatigue, palpitations and poor appetite in the pattern “Heart and Spleen Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause forgetfulness.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause forgetfulness

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

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

The Heart can receive sufficient Blood from the Spleen, if the latter's transformation and transportation function work properly, providing sufficient nutrients for growth and development. In turn, Heart Blood circulates and supplies the Spleen with nutrients to better perform its functions.

In addition to forgetfulness, other symptoms associated with Heart and Spleen Deficiency include fatigue, palpitations and poor appetite.

Heart and Spleen 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 Heart and Spleen Deficiency here

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

Bladder Deficiency with Cold

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to forgetfulness, other symptoms associated with Bladder Deficiency with Cold include disorientation, lower back pain and dizziness.

Bladder Deficiency with Cold is often treated with Sang Piao Xiao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Praying Mantis Egg-Cases - Sang Piao Shao - as a key herb). Sang Piao Xiao San belongs to the category of "formulas that secure essence and stop enuresis", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates and tonifies the Heart and Kidneys".

Read more about Bladder Deficiency with Cold here

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

Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency

In addition to forgetfulness, other symptoms associated with Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency include fatigue, palpitations and poor appetite.

Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency is often treated with Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Heart and Spleen Qi and Blood Deficiency here

Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) is the king ingredient for Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a formula used for Yin and Blood Deficiency

Yin and Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to forgetfulness, other symptoms associated with Yin and Blood Deficiency include fatigue, irritability and palpitations with anxiety.

Yin and Blood Deficiency 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 Yin and Blood Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with forgetfulness

Sang Piao Xiao San

Source date: 1116 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Regulates and tonifies the Heart and Kidneys. Stabilizes the Essence. Stops leakage.

Why might Sang Piao Xiao San help with forgetfulness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Bladder Deficiency with Cold' of which forgetfulness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Bladder Deficiency With Cold include disorientation, lower back pain and dizziness.

Read more about Sang Piao Xiao San here

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Why might Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang help with forgetfulness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart And Spleen Qi And Blood Deficiency include fatigue, palpitations and poor appetite.

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang 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 forgetfulness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' of which forgetfulness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart And Spleen Deficiency include fatigue, palpitations and poor appetite.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang 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 forgetfulness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yin and Blood Deficiency' of which forgetfulness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yin And Blood Deficiency include fatigue, irritability and palpitations with anxiety.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat forgetfulness

Why might Sweetflag Rhizome (Shi Chang Pu) help with forgetfulness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat forgetfulness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat forgetfulness as a symptom (such as Sang Piao Xiao San for instance).

Sweetflag Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Opens the Orifices, awakens the Mind (Shen) and expels Wind-Damp Phlegm. Harmonizes the Earth element and dispels Damp. Applied internally or externally for Wind-Cold-Damp painful obstruction.

Read more about Sweetflag Rhizomes here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with forgetfulness?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat forgetfulness as a symptom, like Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang or Gui Pi 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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with forgetfulness?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat forgetfulness as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Ren Shen Yang Rong 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with forgetfulness?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat forgetfulness as a symptom, like Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang or Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan 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 Jujube Seed (Suan Zao Ren) help with forgetfulness?

Because Jujube Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat forgetfulness as a symptom, like Gui Pi Tang or Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan for instance.

Jujube Seeds is a Neutral herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Heart Yin and calms the spirit. Contains Fluid leakage.

Read more about Jujube Seeds here