Mouth ulcers according to Chinese Medicine

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Mouth ulcers 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 mouth ulcers 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 mouth ulcers is often associated with insomnia, tongue ulcers and abdominal pain in the pattern “Full-Heat in the Small Intestine”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause mouth ulcers.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause mouth ulcers

In Chinese Medicine mouth ulcers 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.

The Small Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Full-Heat in the Small Intestine

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu)

In addition to mouth ulcers, other symptoms associated with Full-Heat in the Small Intestine include insomnia, tongue ulcers and abdominal pain.

Full-Heat in the Small Intestine is often treated with Dao Chi San, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Akebia Stems - Mu Tong - as a key herb). Dao Chi San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears the Heart".

Read more about Full-Heat in the Small Intestine here

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Toxic-Heat

Toxic-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

In addition to mouth ulcers, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat include sore throat, fever and eczema.

Toxic-Heat is often treated with Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Yin Qiao San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Wind Heat".

Read more about Toxic-Heat here

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

Stomach Heat or Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red centre

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst and gum bleeding. Stomach Fire can be the result of excessive intake of hot, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods or other factors such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In addition to mouth ulcers, other symptoms associated with Stomach Heat or Fire include dry stools, feeling of heat and constipation.

Stomach Heat or Fire is often treated with Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner".

Read more about Stomach Heat or Fire here

Four herbal formulas that might help with mouth ulcers

Dao Chi San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears the Heart. Promotes urination.

Why might Dao Chi San help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Full-Heat in the Small Intestine' of which mouth ulcers is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Full-Heat In The Small Intestine include insomnia, tongue ulcers and abdominal pain.

Read more about Dao Chi San here

Qing Ying Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Clears the Nutritive level Heat. Relieves Fire Toxin. Removes Heat. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Qing Ying Tang help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which mouth ulcers is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat include sore throat, fever and eczema.

Read more about Qing Ying Tang here

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Why might Qing Wei San help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' of which mouth ulcers is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Heat Or Fire include dry stools, feeling of heat and constipation.

Read more about Qing Wei San here

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Why might Sang Ju Yin help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which mouth ulcers is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat include sore throat, fever and eczema.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin here

Acupuncture points used for mouth ulcers

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat mouth ulcers

Why might Lophatherum Herb (Dan Zhu Ye) help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat mouth ulcers and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat mouth ulcers as a symptom (such as Dao Chi San for instance).

Lophatherum Herbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and aids thirst. Aids urination and drains Damp-Heat.

Read more about Lophatherum Herbs here

Why might Wild Mint (Bo He) help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat mouth ulcers and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat mouth ulcers as a symptom (such as Sang Ju Yin for instance).

Wild Mint is a Cool herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat from the head, eyes and throat. Allows the release of toxins from the skin. Moves Stagnant Liver Qi

Read more about Wild Mint here

Why might Akebia Stem (Mu Tong) help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat mouth ulcers and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat mouth ulcers as a symptom (such as Dao Chi San for instance).

Akebia Stems is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and clears Heat. Clears Heat and inflammation of the Heart. Promotes lactation. Moves and smoothes the flow of Blood. Used for painful obstruction associated with either Dampness, Blood Stagnation, Wind or Heat.

Read more about Akebia Stems here

Why might Bugbane Rhizome (Sheng Ma) help with mouth ulcers?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat mouth ulcers and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat mouth ulcers as a symptom (such as Qing Wei San for instance).

Bugbane Rhizomes is a Cool herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior, scatters Wind and clears Heat. Allows the release of toxicity from the skin and clears Heat. Raises the Yang associated with Middle Qi Deficiency. Directs herbs upwards. Cools the Blood.

Read more about Bugbane Rhizomes here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with mouth ulcers?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat mouth ulcers as a symptom, like Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang or Dao Chi San 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