Impotence according to Chinese Medicine

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Impotence 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 impotence 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 impotence is often associated with infertility, fatigue and frequent urination in the pattern “Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause impotence.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause impotence

In Chinese Medicine impotence 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.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

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

Tongue color: Pale

Yang Deficiency is an Empty-Cold condition characterized by Coldness and Deficiency. It can cause a general hypoactivity of Organ functions and Oedema. Qi and Blood is more likely to stagnate. Yang Deficiency is mostly related to Spleen Yang, Kidney Yang, Heart Yang or Lung Qi. It is a result of lack of activity or exercise, excessive sex, over-exposure to cold environments and bad diet.

In addition to impotence, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang include infertility, fatigue and frequent urination.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba 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: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang here

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to impotence, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include infertility, spermatorrhea and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba 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: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

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

Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency

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

In addition to impotence, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency include diarrhea, premature ejaculation and lower back pain.

Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency is often treated with Li Zhong Wan, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Li Zhong Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the middle and dispel cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Middle Burner".

Read more about Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with impotence

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with impotence?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang' of which impotence is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Deficiency Or Empty Yang include infertility, fatigue and frequent urination.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with impotence?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which impotence is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include infertility, spermatorrhea and tinnitus.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Li Zhong Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Middle Burner. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Li Zhong Wan help with impotence?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which impotence is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney And Spleen Yang Deficiency include diarrhea, premature ejaculation and lower back pain.

Read more about Li Zhong Wan here

Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Kidney Yang. Strengthens the Essence.

Why might Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan help with impotence?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which impotence is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include infertility, spermatorrhea and tinnitus.

Read more about Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan here

Acupuncture points used for impotence

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat impotence

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with impotence?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impotence and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impotence as a symptom (such as Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance).

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Cuscuta Seed (Tu Si Zi) help with impotence?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impotence and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impotence as a symptom (such as You Gui Wan for instance).

Cuscuta Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Kidney Yang and Essence. Nourishes the Liver.

Read more about Cuscuta Seeds here

Why might Deer Antler Glue (Lu Jiao Jiao) help with impotence?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impotence and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impotence as a symptom (such as You Gui Wan for instance).

Deer Antler Glue is a Warm herb that tastes Salty and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Yang tonification of the Kidneys and Liver, and to nourish vital Essence and Blood

Read more about Deer Antler Glue here

Why might Curculigo Rhizome (Xian Mao) help with impotence?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impotence and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impotence as a symptom (such as Er Xian Tang for instance).

Curculigo Rhizomes is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Kidney Yang and treats Kidney Yang Deficiency patterns. Strengthens the bones and sinews. Clears Cold and Dampness.

Read more about Curculigo Rhizomes here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with impotence?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat impotence and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat impotence as a symptom (such as Li Zhong Wan for instance).

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here