Frequent urination according to Chinese Medicine

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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, tinnitus and back pain in the pattern “Kidney 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.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and scanty periods.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu 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: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for Cold in the Uterus

Cold in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

There are two types of cold patterns: Full Cold or Empty Cold. Full cold refers to actual Cold Evil invading the Uterus and Dampness Stagnation often come along with this Full pattern. Empty cold is the result of Yang Deficiency, especially the Spleen and Kidney Yang.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Cold in the Uterus include scanty periods, feeling of cold and tiredness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Cold in the Uterus is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Late Menstruation.

Cold in the Uterus is often treated with Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Wen Jing Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Uterus and vessels".

Read more about Cold in the Uterus here

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

Yin Excess

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Excess Yin is a Full Yin state pattern. Its symptoms are like those of the Cold and Damp Heat Pernicious Influences such as Edema. It is a result of over-exposure to cold environments and bad diet.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Yin Excess include loose stools, edema and vaginal discharge.

Yin Excess 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 Yin Excess here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to frequent urination, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include dizziness, poor appetite and scanty periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

Five herbal formulas that might help with frequent urination

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.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Qi Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and back pain.

Read more about Qing E Wan here

Dang Gui Di Huang Yin

Source date: 1640 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Tonifies Kidney and Liver Yin. Regulates the menstrual cycle.

Why might Dang Gui Di Huang Yin help with frequent urination?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Read more about Dang Gui Di Huang Yin here

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Why might Wen Jing Tang help with frequent urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' of which frequent urination is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Cold in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang 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 frequent urination?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Yin Excess include loose stools, edema and vaginal discharge.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin here

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 frequent urination?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Scanty Menstruation.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

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

Why might Psoralea Fruit (Bu Gu Zhi) help with frequent urination?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat frequent urination and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat frequent urination as a symptom (such as Qing E Wan for instance).

Psoralea Fruits is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Kidney and Spleen Yang and rises Kidney Qi. Prevent Essence leakage and holds urines.

Read more about Psoralea Fruits here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with frequent urination?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent urination as a symptom, like Dang Gui Di Huang Yin or Wen 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with frequent urination?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent urination as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Wu Ling 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

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with frequent urination?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent urination as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with frequent urination?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat frequent urination as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

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

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