Impaired vision according to Chinese Medicine

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Impaired vision 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 vision 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 vision is often associated with dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause impaired vision.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause impaired vision

In Chinese Medicine impaired vision 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 Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

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

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to 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 Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency is often treated with E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Donkey-Hide Gelatin - E Jiao - as a key herb). E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Yin".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency here

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 impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and scanty periods.

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

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood.

This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood Deficiency here

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

Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to impaired vision, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and scanty periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps.

Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Tiao Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Tiao Gan Tang 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: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with impaired vision

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, tinnitus and insomnia.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang

Source date: the Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Nourishes Blood. Calms the Liver. Extinguishes Wind.

Why might E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Blood Deficiency' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and insomnia.

Read more about E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang here

Er Zhi Wan

Source date: 1534 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Liver Yin. Nourishes Kidney Yin.

Why might Er Zhi Wan help with impaired vision?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Irregular Menstruation.

Read more about Er Zhi Wan here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with impaired vision?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Deficiency' of which impaired vision is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Si Wu Tang here

Tiao Gan Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin.

Why might Tiao Gan Tang help with impaired vision?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Blood and Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Tiao Gan Tang here

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

Why might Abalone Shell (Shi Jue Ming) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin for instance).

Abalone Shells is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms ascending Liver Yang. Clears Liver Heat that is obstructing the vision.

Read more about Abalone Shells here

Why might Eclipta Herb (Mo Han Lian) help with impaired vision?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impaired vision and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impaired vision as a symptom (such as Er Zhi Wan for instance).

Eclipta Herbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Yin of the Liver and Kidneys. Clears Blood Heat and stops bleeding.

Read more about Eclipta Herbs here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with impaired vision?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired vision as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Da Bu Yuan Jian 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with impaired vision?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired vision as a symptom, like Tiao Gan Tang or Si Wu 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with impaired vision?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat impaired vision as a symptom, like Ren Shen Zi Xie Tang or He Che Da Zao 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