Hypochondrial distention according to Chinese Medicine

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Hypochondrial distention 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 hypochondrial distention 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 hypochondrial distention is often associated with irritability, insufficient or absent lactation after childbirth and depression in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause hypochondrial distention.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause hypochondrial distention

In Chinese Medicine hypochondrial distention 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 Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to hypochondrial distention, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include irritability, insufficient or absent lactation after childbirth and depression.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Liver Qi 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 Liver Qi Stagnation 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 hypochondrial distention, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include irritability, watery milk and no feeling of distension of the breasts.

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

Kansui Roots (Gan Sui) is the king ingredient for Shi Zao Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium

Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Phlegm-Fluids clogs up the chest and hypochondriac regions, producing chest pain, cough and shortness of breath.

In addition to hypochondrial distention, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium include shortness of breath and coughing.

Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium is often treated with Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Kansui Roots - Gan Sui - as a key herb). Shi Zao Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that drive out excess water", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium here

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to hypochondrial distention, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include irritability, depression and breast distention.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

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

Heat in Gall Bladder

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to hypochondrial distention, other symptoms associated with Heat in Gall Bladder include bitter taste in the mouth, mild chills alternating with pronounced fever and stifling sensation in the chest.

Heat in Gall Bladder is often treated with Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Sweet Wormwood Herbs - Qing Hao - as a key herb). Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder".

Read more about Heat in Gall Bladder here

Five herbal formulas that might help with hypochondrial distention

Xia Ru Yong Quan San

Source date: 1840 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Increases breast milk supply.

Why might Xia Ru Yong Quan San help with hypochondrial distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which hypochondrial distention is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Qi Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Xia Ru Yong Quan San here

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Why might Yue Ju Wan help with hypochondrial distention?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Low Breast Milk Supply.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with hypochondrial distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium' of which hypochondrial distention is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Hypochondrium include shortness of breath and coughing.

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

Why might Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San help with hypochondrial distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which hypochondrial distention is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire can contribute to many health issues, including Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San here

Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Source date: Qing Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang help with hypochondrial distention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in Gall Bladder' of which hypochondrial distention is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat In Gall Bladder include bitter taste in the mouth, mild chills alternating with pronounced fever and stifling sensation in the chest.

Read more about Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hypochondrial distention

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with hypochondrial distention?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hypochondrial distention as a symptom, like Xia Ru Yong Quan San or Xiao Yao San 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with hypochondrial distention?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hypochondrial distention as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Hao Qin Qing Dan 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 Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with hypochondrial distention?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hypochondrial distention as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Xia Ru Yong Quan San for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with hypochondrial distention?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hypochondrial distention as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with hypochondrial distention?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hypochondrial distention as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xia Ru Yong Quan San for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here