Occipital pain according to Chinese Medicine

occipital stiffness and occiput pain redirect here

Occipital pain 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 occipital pain 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 occipital pain is often associated with aversion to cold, fever and body aches in the pattern “Damp-Wind”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause occipital pain.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause occipital pain

In Chinese Medicine occipital pain 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.

Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo) is the king ingredient for Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, a formula used for Damp-Wind

Damp-Wind

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Floating (Fu)

In addition to occipital pain, other symptoms associated with Damp-Wind include aversion to cold, fever and body aches.

Damp-Wind is often treated with Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Notopterygium Roots - Qiang Huo - as a key herb). Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dispel wind-damp", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels wind and dampness".

Read more about Damp-Wind here

Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) is the king ingredient for Jing Fang Bai Du San, a formula used for Wind-Cold

Wind-Cold

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

In addition to occipital pain, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold include aversion to cold, fever and body aches.

Wind-Cold is often treated with Jing Fang Bai Du San, a herbal formula made of 13 herbs (including Japanese Catnip - Jing Jie - as a key herb). Jing Fang Bai Du 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: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Wind-Cold here

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

Wind-Heat

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

In addition to occipital pain, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Wind-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 Wind-Heat here

Four herbal formulas that might help with occipital pain

Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Expels wind and dampness.

Why might Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang help with occipital pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Wind' of which occipital stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang here

Jing Fang Bai Du San

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Why might Jing Fang Bai Du San help with occipital pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Cold' of which occipital stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du San here

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Why might Yin Qiao San help with occipital pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Heat' of which occipital stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Yin Qiao 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 occipital pain?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Heat' of which occipital stiffness is a symptom.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin here

Acupuncture points used for occipital pain

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat occipital pain

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with occipital pain?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital pain as a symptom, like Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 Wild Mint (Bo He) help with occipital pain?

Because Wild Mint is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital pain as a symptom, like Sang Ju Yin or Yin Qiao San 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 Common Reed Rhizome (Lu Gen) help with occipital pain?

Because Common Reed Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital pain as a symptom, like Sang Ju Yin or Yin Qiao San for instance.

Common Reed Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and promotes the generation of Fluids. Dispels Lung Heat. Dispels Stomach Heat. Promotes urination and clears Heat in the urinary tract. Calm the minds and stop vomiting.

Read more about Common Reed Rhizomes here

Why might Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) help with occipital pain?

Because Japanese Catnip is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital pain as a symptom, like Jing Fang Bai Du San or Yin Qiao San for instance.

Japanese Catnip is a Neutral herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold or Heat depending on the other herbs used. Releases the Exterior for measles. Stops bleeding. Abates swellings.

Read more about Japanese Catnip here

Why might Notopterygium Root (Qiang Huo) help with occipital pain?

Because Notopterygium Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital pain as a symptom, like Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang or Jing Fang Bai Du San for instance.

Notopterygium Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold and Dampness. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Directs Qi to the Greater Yang (Tai Yang) channel and the Governing Vessel.

Read more about Notopterygium Roots here