Nocturnal emissions according to Chinese Medicine

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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, late period and scanty periods in the pattern “Blood 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 Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood.

This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Blood Deficiency include dizziness, late period and scanty periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu 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: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood 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 Yang Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

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

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba 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: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

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

Kidney Qi not Firm

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

Tongue color: Pale

Kidney Qi not Firm means Kidney Qi Deficiency. Two characteristics are typical in this pattern. Firstly, it is a type of Kidney Yang Deficiency with the associated Cold symptoms. Secondly, it is a type of sinking of Kidneys Qi, thus with many ‘leaking’ downwards symptoms.

In addition to nocturnal emissions, other symptoms associated with Kidney Qi not Firm include back pain, frequent urination and weakness and aching in the knees.

Kidney Qi not Firm is often treated with You Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). You Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidney Qi not Firm 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): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

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 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 and Liver Yin Deficiency 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 'Blood Deficiency' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

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

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Yu Nu Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Heat from the Stomach. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Yu Nu Jian 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.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Yu Nu Jian here

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Why might Shen Qi Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yang Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with nocturnal emissions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Qi not Firm' of which nocturnal emissions is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Qi Not Firm include back pain, frequent urination and weakness and aching in the knees.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Zuo Gui Yin

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Tonifies the Kidneys.

Why might Zuo Gui Yin 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.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Zuo Gui Yin here

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

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 Qi Ju Di Huang 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 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 Zuo Gui Yin or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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

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 Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

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

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 Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with nocturnal emissions?

Because Water Plantain 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.

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with nocturnal emissions?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat nocturnal emissions as a symptom, like Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan or Gui Shao Di Huang Tang for instance.

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

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

Conditions associated with nocturnal emissions

Late menstruation Menopausal syndrome