Occipital stiffness according to Chinese Medicine

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Occipital stiffness 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 stiffness 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 stiffness 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 stiffness.

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

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

In Chinese Medicine occipital stiffness 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 stiffness, 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

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 stiffness, 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

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 stiffness, 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

Four herbal formulas that might help with occipital stiffness

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 stiffness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Wind include aversion to cold, fever and body aches.

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang 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 stiffness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin 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 stiffness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Cold include aversion to cold, fever and body aches.

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 stiffness?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital stiffness 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 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 Wild Mint (Bo He) help with occipital stiffness?

Because Wild Mint is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital stiffness 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 Saposhnikovia Root (Fang Feng) help with occipital stiffness?

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

Saposhnikovia Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Bladder, the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Relieves Wind-Damp-Cold painful obstruction. Disperses Wind.

Read more about Saposhnikovia Roots here

Why might Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with occipital stiffness?

Because Forsythia Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital stiffness as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Forsythia Fruits is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.

Read more about Forsythia Fruits here

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

Because Japanese Catnip is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat occipital stiffness 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

Other symptoms often associated with occipital stiffness

Aversion to cold Fever Body aches Headaches Chills Itchy throat Sore throat Sneezing Coughing Runny nose