Frequent urination according to Chinese Medicine

Frequent urination 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 frequent urination 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 frequent urination is often associated with dizziness, loose stools and fatigue in the pattern “Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause frequent urination.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause frequent urination

In Chinese Medicine frequent urination 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.

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency include dizziness, loose stools and fatigue.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang 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: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Empty (Xu), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Yang Deficiency is an Empty-Cold condition characterized by Coldness and Deficiency. It can cause a general hypoactivity of Organ functions and Oedema. Qi and Blood is more likely to stagnate. Yang Deficiency is mostly related to Spleen Yang, Kidney Yang, Heart Yang or Lung Qi. It is a result of lack of activity or exercise, excessive sex, over-exposure to cold environments and bad diet.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang include loose stools, feeling of cold and fatigue.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang here

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, loose stools and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

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

Kidney Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Characterised by frequent urination as the most distinguishing symptom. Kidney Qi Deficiency can be a precursor of Heart Qi Deficiency.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Kidney Qi Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and back pain.

Kidney Qi Deficiency is often treated with Qing E Wan, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Eucommia Bark - Du Zhong - as a key herb). Qing E Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and Reinforces Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidney Qi Deficiency here

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

Bladder Deficient and Cold

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

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Bladder Deficient and Cold include dizziness, feeling of cold and lower back pain.

Bladder Deficient and 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 Deficient and Cold here

Five herbal formulas that might help with frequent urination

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

Qing E Wan

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms and Reinforces Kidney Yang.

Why might Qing E Wan help with frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Qi Deficiency' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

Read more about Qing E Wan here

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 frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Bladder Deficient and Cold' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

Read more about Sang Piao Xiao San here

Acupuncture points used for frequent urination

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat frequent urination

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with frequent urination?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent urination as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Si Ni Tang for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with frequent urination?

Because it is a key herb in Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' (a pattern with frequent urination as a symptom)

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

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

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with frequent urination?

Because it is a key herb in Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' (a pattern with frequent urination as a symptom)

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with frequent urination?

Because it is a key herb in Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' (a pattern with frequent urination as a symptom)

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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with frequent urination?

Because it is a key herb in Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' (a pattern with frequent urination as a symptom)

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