Oedema of legs according to Chinese Medicine

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Oedema of legs 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 legs 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 legs is often associated with loose stools, poor appetite and cold limbs in the pattern “Oedema”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause oedema of legs.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause oedema of legs

In Chinese Medicine oedema of legs is a symptom for 4 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): Hidden (Fu), Slowed-down (Huan)

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 legs, other symptoms associated with Oedema include loose stools, poor appetite and cold limbs.

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

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

Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency

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

In addition to oedema of legs, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency include loose stools, feeling of cold and lower back pain.

Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency is often treated with Li Zhong Wan, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Li Zhong Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the middle and dispel cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Middle Burner".

Read more about Kidney and Spleen Yang 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 oedema of legs, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include loose stools, feeling of cold and lower back pain.

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 Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing

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

In addition to oedema of legs, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing include feeling of cold, cold feeling in the legs and the back and scanty clear urination.

Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing 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 Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing here

Four herbal formulas that might help with oedema of legs

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 legs?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Oedema include loose stools, poor appetite and cold limbs.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin here

Li Zhong Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Middle Burner. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Li Zhong Wan help with oedema of legs?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which oedema of legs is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney And Spleen Yang Deficiency include loose stools, feeling of cold and lower back pain.

Read more about Li Zhong Wan 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 oedema of legs?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include loose stools, feeling of cold and lower back pain.

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Why might Wu Ling San help with oedema of legs?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing' of which oedema of legs is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency With Water Overflowing include feeling of cold, cold feeling in the legs and the back and scanty clear urination.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

Acupuncture points used for oedema of legs

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

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with oedema of legs?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of legs 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 Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with oedema of legs?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of legs as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Li Zhong Wan for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with oedema of legs?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of legs as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

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

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with oedema of legs?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of legs as a symptom, like Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat oedema of legs as a symptom, like Li Zhong Wan or Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang 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