Nocturnal emissions according to Chinese Medicine

Nocturnal emissions 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 nocturnal emissions 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 nocturnal emissions is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and insomnia in the pattern “Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause nocturnal emissions.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause nocturnal emissions

In Chinese Medicine nocturnal emissions is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a formula used for Yin Deficiency

Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Red

In the case of Yin Deficiency, the body is short in the cooling, moistening and nurturing aspects. This leads to Heat and Dryness accompanied by weakness and lack of strength and resistance. Yin becomes Deficient by over-working, lack of sleep, over-exercising, overindulgence in sex, long-term chronic diseases, internal injury due to the seven emotions, and the over-eating of dry and hot-natured foods.

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu 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: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu 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: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui 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: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty-Heat Blazing

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty-Heat Blazing include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty-Heat Blazing is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu 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: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty-Heat Blazing here

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

Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo), Floating (Fu)

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized here

Five herbal formulas that might help with nocturnal emissions

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yin Deficiency' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yin. Drains Fire.

Why might Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty-Heat Blazing' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

Read more about Zhi Bo Di Huang Wan here

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Why might Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized' of which nocturnal emissions with dreams is a symptom.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan here

Acupuncture points used for nocturnal emissions

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat nocturnal emissions

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

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Fu Tu Dan or Zuo Gui Yin for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

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

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with nocturnal emissions?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with nocturnal emissions?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Fu Tu Dan or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

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

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju 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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with nocturnal emissions?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Gui Shao Di Huang Tang or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here