Painful gums according to Chinese Medicine

Painful gums 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 painful gums 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 painful gums is often associated with dry stools, bleeding gums and constipation in the pattern “Stomach Heat or Fire”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of painful gums we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the three medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat painful gums.

Stomach Heat or Fire, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause painful gums

In Chinese Medicine painful gums is a symptom for the pattern "Stomach Heat or Fire". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Stomach Heat or Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red centre

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst and gum bleeding. Stomach Fire can be the result of excessive intake of hot, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods or other factors such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In addition to painful gums, other symptoms associated with Stomach Heat or Fire include dry stools, bleeding gums and constipation.

Stomach Heat or Fire is often treated with Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner".

Read more about Stomach Heat or Fire here

Two herbal formulas that might help with painful gums

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Why might Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang help with painful gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' of which painful gums is a symptom.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang here

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Why might Qing Wei San help with painful gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' of which painful gums is a symptom.

Read more about Qing Wei San here

Acupuncture points used for painful gums

The three Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat painful gums

Why might Rhubarb (Da Huang) help with painful gums?

Because it is a key herb in Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' (a pattern with painful gums as a symptom)

Rhubarb is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Bright Yang stage according to the Six Stages Theory. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Read more about Rhubarb here

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with painful gums?

Because it is a key herb in Qing Wei San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' (a pattern with painful gums as a symptom)

Goldthread Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Liver, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites

Read more about Goldthread Rhizomes here

Why might Greater Burdock Root (Niu Bang Gen) help with painful gums?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat painful gums as can be seen on Greater Burdock Root's page.

Greater Burdock Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Heat. Reduces swelling and clears pathogenic Heat.

Read more about Greater Burdock Roots here