Optic neuritis according to Chinese Medicine

Optic neuritis 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 optic neuritis 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 optic neuritis is often associated with lightheadedness, vertigo and tinnitus in the pattern “Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause optic neuritis.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause optic neuritis

In Chinese Medicine optic neuritis 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.

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

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to optic neuritis, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include lightheadedness, vertigo and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui 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: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency here

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

Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This is a type of empty Fire pattern arising out of Liver Blood Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as Liver Blood Deficiency, but with extra signs of Dryness and Yin-Deficient Heat. It can be caused by excessive activity, overwork, 'burning the candle at both ends' without sufficient rest, and poor and irregular diet.

In addition to optic neuritis, other symptoms associated with Liver Yin Deficiency include night sweats, dizziness and numbness in the limbs.

Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Qi Ju 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: "Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin".

Read more about Liver Yin Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with optic neuritis

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which optic neuritis is a symptom.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which optic neuritis is a symptom.

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which optic neuritis is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Why might Bu Gan Tang help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Yin Deficiency' of which optic neuritis is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Gan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat optic neuritis

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a key herb in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with optic neuritis as a symptom)

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a key herb in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with optic neuritis as a symptom)

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a key herb in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with optic neuritis as a symptom)

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a key herb in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with optic neuritis as a symptom)

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with optic neuritis?

Because it is a key herb in Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with optic neuritis as a symptom)

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here