Generalized body pain according to Chinese Medicine

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Generalized body pain 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 generalized body pain 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 generalized body pain is often associated with irritability, alternating fever and chills and absence of sweating in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause generalized body pain.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of generalized body pain we’ve identified three 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 generalized body pain.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause generalized body pain

In Chinese Medicine generalized body pain is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Body Fluids stagnate in the four limbs instead of flowing in the body and getting released as sweat.

In addition to generalized body pain, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs include irritability, alternating fever and chills and absence of sweating.

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs is often treated with Da Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Da Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes sweating".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Xiao Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when, often due to a stagnant Qi, the Body Fluids are retained in the chest and Lungs.

In addition to generalized body pain, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm include alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating and wheezing.

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm is often treated with Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Xiao Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) is the king ingredient for Fu Zi Tang, a formula used for Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Minute (Wei), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

In addition to generalized body pain, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp include aching bones and joints and cold extremities.

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp is often treated with Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Fu Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Meridians".

Read more about Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp here

Three herbal formulas that might help with generalized body pain

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Why might Da Qing Long Tang help with generalized body pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs' of which generalized body pain is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Limbs include irritability, alternating fever and chills and absence of sweating.

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang here

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with generalized body pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' of which generalized body pain is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids Above The Diaphragm include alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating and wheezing.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Meridians. Assists the Yang. Dispels Cold. Transforms Dampness.

Why might Fu Zi Tang help with generalized body pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp' of which generalized body pain is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Deficiency With Cold-Damp include aching bones and joints and cold extremities.

Read more about Fu Zi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat generalized body pain

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with generalized body pain?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat generalized body pain as a symptom, like Da Qing Long Tang or Xiao Qing Long 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with generalized body pain?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat generalized body pain as a symptom, like Fu Zi Tang or Xiao Qing Long Tang 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 Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with generalized body pain?

Because Ephedra is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat generalized body pain as a symptom, like Da Qing Long Tang or Xiao Qing Long Tang for instance.

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here

Why might Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with generalized body pain?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat generalized body pain as a symptom, like Xiao Qing Long Tang or Da Qing Long Tang for instance.

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

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 Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with generalized body pain?

Because it is a key herb in Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp' (a pattern with generalized body pain as a symptom)

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

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