Hot flushes according to Chinese Medicine

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Hot flushes 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 hot flushes 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 hot flushes is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus in the pattern “Kidney Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause hot flushes.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause hot flushes

In Chinese Medicine hot flushes 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 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 hot flushes, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus.

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

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to hot flushes, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, irritability and depression.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

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

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

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

Tongue color: Red

In addition to hot flushes, other symptoms associated with Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys include dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome.

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys 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 Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys here

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

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to hot flushes, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver 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 and Liver Yin Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with hot flushes

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes Blood and lymphatic circulation, thus eleminates Blood Stagnation. Softens and resolves hard lumps such as cysts and fibroids.

Why might Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan help with hot flushes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which hot flushes is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan here

Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 1706 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Gui Shao Di Huang Tang help with hot flushes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which hot flushes is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Gui Shao Di Huang Tang here

Zuo Gui Yin

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Tonifies the Kidneys.

Why might Zuo Gui Yin help with hot flushes?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Zuo Gui Yin here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with hot flushes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys' of which hot flushes is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hot flushes

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with hot flushes?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hot flushes as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan or Gui Shao Di Huang Tang for instance.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with hot flushes?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hot flushes as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan or Zuo Gui Yin 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with hot flushes?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hot flushes as a symptom, like Wen Jing Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu 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 Yam (Shan Yao) help with hot flushes?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hot flushes as a symptom, like Gui Shao Di Huang Tang or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with hot flushes?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hot flushes as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Conditions associated with hot flushes

Menopausal syndrome