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, palpitations and tiredness in the pattern “Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three 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 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 listlessness.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause listlessness

In Chinese Medicine listlessness 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.

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for 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 Qi Deficiency include dizziness, palpitations and tiredness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

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

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include late period, scanty periods and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen 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: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

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

Spleen and Kidney Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Hidden (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to listlessness, other symptoms associated with Spleen and Kidney Qi Deficiency include poor appetite and spermatorrhea.

Spleen and Kidney Qi Deficiency is often treated with Fu Tu Dan, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Cuscuta Seeds - Tu Si Zi - as a key herb). Fu Tu Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that secure essence and stop enuresis", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Stabilizes the Kidney Qi".

Read more about Spleen and Kidney Qi Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with listlessness

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' of which listlessness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Qi Deficiency include dizziness, palpitations and tiredness.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which listlessness is a symptom.

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

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang here

Fu Tu Dan

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Stabilizes the Kidney Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Stops leakage.

Why might Fu Tu Dan help with listlessness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Kidney Qi Deficiency include poor appetite and spermatorrhea.

Read more about Fu Tu Dan here

Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1575 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Resolves Damp-Phlegm. Nourishes Blood.

Why might Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang help with listlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which listlessness is a symptom.

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

Read more about Xiong Gui Er Chen 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 Jun Zi Tang or 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

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 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 Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with listlessness?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Liu Jun Zi Tang or Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Read more about Tangerine Peel here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with listlessness?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Liu Jun Zi Tang or Xiong Gui Er Chen 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

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

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat listlessness as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang 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