Numbness of the muscles according to Chinese Medicine

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Numbness of the muscles 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 numbness of the muscles 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 numbness of the muscles is often associated with joint pain, swollen joints and stiff neck in the pattern “Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause numbness of the muscles.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of numbness of the muscles we’ve identified three 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 numbness of the muscles.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause numbness of the muscles

In Chinese Medicine numbness of the muscles 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.

Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

In addition to numbness of the muscles, other symptoms associated with Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles include joint pain, swollen joints and stiff neck.

Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles is often treated with Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Sichuan Aconite - Zhi Chuan Wu - as a key herb). Wu Tou Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the meridians and disperse cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the channels and remove obstruaction".

Read more about Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles here

Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

The bone deformities that occur in chronic rheumatoid arthritis are seen as a form of Phlegm.

In addition to numbness of the muscles, other symptoms associated with Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles include numbness in the limbs, stifling sensation in the chest and bone deformities.

Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles is often treated with Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that regulate blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates Blood".

Read more about Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles here

Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Soggy (Ru)

In addition to numbness of the muscles, other symptoms associated with Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles include joint pain and swollen joints.

Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles is often treated with Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang, a herbal formula made of 16 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Wind Damp from the Channels".

Read more about Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles here

Three herbal formulas that might help with numbness of the muscles

Wu Tou Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Warms the channels and remove obstruaction. Disperse Cold and Dampness. Warms the joints. Relieve joints pain.

Why might Wu Tou Tang help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles' of which numbness of the muscles is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Cold Invading The Channels Joints And Muscles include joint pain, swollen joints and stiff neck.

Read more about Wu Tou Tang here

Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Unblocks painful obstruction. Relieves pain. Invigorate Qi. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Unblock Channels.

Why might Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles' of which numbness of the muscles is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm In The Channels Joints And Muscles include numbness in the limbs, stifling sensation in the chest and bone deformities.

Read more about Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang here

Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang

Source date: 1587 AD

Number of ingredients: 16 herbs

Key actions: Expels Wind Damp from the Channels. Invigorates Blood. Unblocks the channels.

Why might Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles' of which numbness of the muscles is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Dampness Invading The Channels Joints And Muscles include joint pain and swollen joints.

Read more about Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat numbness of the muscles

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with numbness of the muscles?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat numbness of the muscles as a symptom, like Wu Tou Tang or Shen Tong Zhu Yu 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 Prepared Sichuan Aconite (Zhi Chuan Wu) help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a key herb in Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles' (a pattern with numbness of the muscles as a symptom)

Prepared Sichuan Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Dispels Wind and Dampness. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold

Read more about Prepared Sichuan Aconite here

Why might Peach Kernel (Tao Ren) help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a key herb in Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles' (a pattern with numbness of the muscles as a symptom)

Peach Kernels is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood and breaks up Stasis. Moistens the Intestines. Relieves coughing.

Read more about Peach Kernels here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a key herb in Shu Jing Huo Xue Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Dampness invading the Channels joints and muscles' (a pattern with numbness of the muscles as a symptom)

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

Why might Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with numbness of the muscles?

Because it is a key herb in Wu Tou Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold invading the Channels joints and muscles' (a pattern with numbness of the muscles as a symptom)

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here