Hypotension according to Chinese Medicine

orthostatic hypotension redirects here

Hypotension 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 hypotension 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 hypotension is often associated with palpitations and coughing in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause hypotension.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause hypotension

In Chinese Medicine hypotension is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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 hypotension, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium include palpitations 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 Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe with additional Cold symptoms, such as cold feeling and cold limbs. The causes are similar to these of Spleen Qi Deficiency, along with surplus consumption of cold, raw foods and drinks and overexposure to cold damp environments and climates.

In addition to hypotension, other symptoms associated with Spleen Yang Deficiency include edema and loose stools.

Spleen Yang Deficiency is often treated with Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Zhen Wu 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 and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys".

Read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with hypotension

Shi Zao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids.

Why might Shi Zao Tang help with hypotension?

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

Read more about Shi Zao Tang here

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with hypotension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which orthostatic hypotension is a symptom.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with hypotension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which orthostatic hypotension is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Why might Yi Huang Tang help with hypotension?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which orthostatic hypotension is a symptom.

Read more about Yi Huang Tang here

Acupuncture points used for hypotension

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hypotension

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with hypotension?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with hypotension as a symptom)

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with hypotension?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with hypotension as a symptom)

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

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

Why might Jujube Date (Da Zao) help with hypotension?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium' (a pattern with hypotension as a symptom)

Jujube Dates is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula.

Read more about Jujube Dates here

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with hypotension?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with hypotension as a symptom)

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Why might Genkwa Flower (Yan Hua) help with hypotension?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium' (a pattern with hypotension as a symptom)

Genkwa Flowers is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Kidney, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves chronic congestion of Fluids in the chest and stops cough. Drains congested Fluids through the urine and the stool. Expels parasites.

Read more about Genkwa Flowers here