Listlessness according to Chinese Medicine

Listlessness 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 listlessness 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 listlessness is often associated with dizziness, loose stools and shortness of breath in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause listlessness.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause listlessness

In Chinese Medicine listlessness is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency include dizziness, loose stools and shortness of breath.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi 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".

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Shen Fu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yang

Collapse of Yang

Pulse type(s): Scattered (San), Slow (Chi), Hidden (Fu)

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yang include loose stools, feeling of cold and cold limbs.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yang is often treated with Shen Fu Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Shen Fu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that rescue devastated yang", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores Yang".

Read more about Collapse of Yang here

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the king ingredient for Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-cold

Empty-Cold

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

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-cold include dizziness, scanty periods and loose stools.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-cold is often treated with Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang 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 and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach)".

Read more about Empty-Cold here

Achyranthes Roots (Niu Xi) is the king ingredient for Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-wind-agitating-in-the-interior

Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-wind-agitating-in-the-interior include low-grade fever, weight loss and malar flush.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-wind-agitating-in-the-interior is often treated with Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Achyranthes Roots - Niu Xi - as a key herb). Zhen Gan Xi Feng 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: "Sedates the Liver".

Read more about Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior here

Five herbal formulas that might help with listlessness

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 listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-deficiency' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Shen Fu Tang

Source date: 1445 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Restores Yang. Strongly tonifies the source Qi. Saves Qi from collapsing due to devastated Yang.

Why might Shen Fu Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yang' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Read more about Shen Fu Tang here

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach). Tonifies Qi. Relieves spasmodic pain.

Why might Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-cold' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Read more about Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang here

Da Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Middle Burner Deficiency. Directs rebellious Qi downward. Relieves pain.

Why might Da Jian Zhong Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-cold' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Read more about Da Jian Zhong Tang here

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Why might Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/empty-wind-agitating-in-the-interior' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat listlessness

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with listlessness?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Si Ni Tang or Si Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 listlessness?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

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

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 listlessness?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang for instance.

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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with listlessness?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with listlessness?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

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