Oedema of feet according to Chinese Medicine

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Oedema of feet 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 oedema of feet 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 oedema of feet is often associated with feeling of heaviness, poor appetite and loose stools in the pattern “Oedema”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause oedema of feet.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause oedema of feet

In Chinese Medicine oedema of feet is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wu Ling San, a formula used for Oedema

Oedema

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan), Hidden (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Oedema manifests itself as swellings due to the retention of Body Fluids. Chinese Medicine believes that it originates from the leaking of Body Fluids from their normal pathways into the space between skin and muscles.

In addition to oedema of feet, other symptoms associated with Oedema include feeling of heaviness, poor appetite and loose stools.

Oedema is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Oedema here

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a formula used for Qi And Blood Stagnation

Qi And Blood Stagnation

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

In addition to oedema of feet, other symptoms associated with Qi And Blood Stagnation include irritability, dizziness and chest fullness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi And Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi And Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu 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: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Qi And Blood Stagnation here

Three herbal formulas that might help with oedema of feet

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Why might Wu Pi Yin help with oedema of feet?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which oedema of feet is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Oedema include feeling of heaviness, poor appetite and loose stools.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin here

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

Why might Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with oedema of feet?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi And Blood Stagnation' of which oedema of feet is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Qi And Blood Stagnation include irritability, dizziness and chest fullness.

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with oedema of feet?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which oedema of feet is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Oedema include feeling of heaviness, poor appetite and loose stools.

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat oedema of feet

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with oedema of feet?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of feet as a symptom, like Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang or Ping Wei San 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with oedema of feet?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of feet as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang 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 Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with oedema of feet?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of feet as a symptom, like Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with oedema of feet?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of feet as a symptom, like Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu 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

Why might Flying Squirrel Faeces (Wu Ling Zhi) help with oedema of feet?

Because Flying Squirrel Faeces is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of feet as a symptom, like Shi Xiao San or Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Flying Squirrel Faeces is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Disperses congealed Blood in the lower abdomen and uterus and relieves pain. Promotes childhood nutrition with Cold Stagnation and focal abdominal swelling.

Read more about Flying Squirrel Faeces here