Lethargic and withdrawn state according to Chinese Medicine

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Lethargic and withdrawn state can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.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is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like lethargic and withdrawn state here).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 For instance here lethargic and withdrawn state is often associated with muttering to oneself, dull eyes and sudden blackouts in the pattern “Phlegm Misting the Heart”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause lethargic and withdrawn state.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of lethargic and withdrawn state we’ve identified three herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat lethargic and withdrawn state.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause lethargic and withdrawn state

In Chinese Medicine lethargic and withdrawn state is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record.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.

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

Phlegm Misting the Heart

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is a condition where Phlegm enters the Heart and disturbs the Mind (Shen).

In addition to lethargic and withdrawn state, other symptoms associated with Phlegm Misting the Heart include muttering to oneself, dull eyes and sudden blackouts.

Phlegm Misting the Heart is often treated with Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Wen Dan 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: "Clears Hot-Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm Misting the Heart here

Dong Quai (Dang Gui) is the king ingredient for Sheng Yu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to lethargic and withdrawn state, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include lower abdominal pain and pale complexion.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood and Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menstrual Cramps or Absence Of Menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency is often treated with Sheng Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Sheng Yu 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: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

Three herbal formulas that might help with lethargic and withdrawn state

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm Misting the Heart' of which lethargic and withdrawn state is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm Misting The Heart include muttering to oneself, dull eyes and sudden blackouts.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Tang help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which lethargic and withdrawn state is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood And Qi Deficiency include lower abdominal pain and pale complexion.

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang here

Sheng Yu Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Preserves the Blood.

Why might Sheng Yu Tang help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which lethargic and withdrawn state is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood And Qi Deficiency include lower abdominal pain and pale complexion.

Read more about Sheng Yu Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat lethargic and withdrawn state

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat lethargic and withdrawn state as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Ba Zhen 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat lethargic and withdrawn state as a symptom, like Ba Zhen Tang or Sheng Yu Tang 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

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat lethargic and withdrawn state as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Ba Zhen 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat lethargic and withdrawn state as a symptom, like Ba Zhen Tang or Sheng Yu Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with lethargic and withdrawn state?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat lethargic and withdrawn state as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Di Tan Tang for instance.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.

Read more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes here