Hepatic encephalopathy according to Chinese Medicine

hepatic coma redirects here

Hepatic encephalopathy 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 hepatic encephalopathy 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 hepatic encephalopathy is often associated with fever, black and tarry stools and delirious speech in the pattern “Heat in the Blood”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of hepatic encephalopathy we’ve identified that a herbal formula called Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang can help treat the patterns behind the symptom.

Heat in the Blood, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause hepatic encephalopathy

In Chinese Medicine hepatic encephalopathy is a symptom for the pattern "Heat in the Blood". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to hepatic encephalopathy, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include fever, black and tarry stools and delirious speech.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

A herbal formula that might help with hepatic encephalopathy

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with hepatic encephalopathy?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which hepatic coma is a symptom.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

The four Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hepatic encephalopathy

Why might Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with hepatic encephalopathy?

Because it is a key herb in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' (a pattern with hepatic encephalopathy as a symptom)

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with hepatic encephalopathy?

Because it is a key herb in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' (a pattern with hepatic encephalopathy as a symptom)

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Red Peony Root (Chi Shao) help with hepatic encephalopathy?

Because it is a key herb in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' (a pattern with hepatic encephalopathy as a symptom)

Red Peony Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood, relieves pain and reduces swelling. Cools the Blood and the Liver.

Read more about Red Peony Roots here

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with hepatic encephalopathy?

Because it is a key herb in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' (a pattern with hepatic encephalopathy as a symptom)

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here

Other symptoms often associated with hepatic encephalopathy

Fever Black and tarry stools Delirious speech