Impaired hearing according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Impaired hearing

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Impaired hearing 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 impaired hearing 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 impaired hearing is often associated with dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision in the pattern “Liver Yang Rising”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause impaired hearing.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause impaired hearing

In Chinese Medicine impaired hearing 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.

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

Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red

Long term Liver Yin Deficiency causes Liver Yang rising upwards. The treatment should be focused on subduing rising Yang as well as nourishing Liver Yin and Blood. It is also called Arrogant Liver Yang.

In addition to impaired hearing, other symptoms associated with Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

Liver Yang Rising 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 Liver Yang Rising here

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

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to impaired hearing, other symptoms associated with Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency is often treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)".

Read more about Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency here

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

Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to impaired hearing, other symptoms associated with Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder include dizziness, headaches and irritability.

Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder here

Four herbal formulas that might help with impaired hearing

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1675 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi. Removes Dampness. Moves Qi. Alleviates pain.

Why might Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang help with impaired hearing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency' of which impaired hearing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Stomach Qi Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

Read more about Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang 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 impaired hearing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yang Rising' of which impaired hearing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with impaired hearing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder' of which impaired hearing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Excess In The Liver Or Gallbladder include dizziness, headaches and irritability.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan 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 impaired hearing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency' of which impaired hearing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Stomach Qi Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and blurred vision.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat impaired hearing

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with impaired hearing?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired hearing as a symptom, like Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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 Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with impaired hearing?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired hearing as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang 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

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with impaired hearing?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired hearing as a symptom, like Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

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

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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with impaired hearing?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired hearing as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with impaired hearing?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired hearing as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi 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