Painful urination according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Painful urination

dysuria redirects here

Painful urination 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 urination 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 urination is often associated with edema, coughing and lower abdominal pressure in the pattern “Kidney Yang Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause painful urination.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause painful urination

In Chinese Medicine painful urination 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.

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 painful urination, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and lower abdominal pressure.

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

Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

In addition to painful urination, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner include dry mouth, scanty and dark urine and dry throat.

Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner is often treated with Er Miao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Phellodendron Bark - Huang Bo - as a key herb). Er Miao San belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Dampness from the Lower Burner".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner here

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

Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to painful urination, other symptoms associated with Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder include irritability, fixed pain in the hypochondria and headaches.

Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder here

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

Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat

In addition to painful urination, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat include dry mouth, irritability and palpitations.

Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat is often treated with Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Jia Wei Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat here

Four herbal formulas that might help with painful urination

Ba Zheng San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire. Promotes urination. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling.

Why might Ba Zheng San help with painful urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner' of which painful urination is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Lower Burner include dry mouth, scanty and dark urine and dry throat.

Read more about Ba Zheng San here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with painful urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder' of which painful urination is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Excess In The Liver Or Gallbladder include irritability, fixed pain in the hypochondria and headaches.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with painful urination?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen Qi Deficiency that transforms into Heat' of which painful urination is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation With Spleen Qi Deficiency That Transforms Into Heat include dry mouth, irritability and palpitations.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with painful urination?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and lower abdominal pressure.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat painful urination

Why might Knotgrass (Bian Xu) help with painful urination?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat painful urination and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat painful urination as a symptom (such as Ba Zheng San for instance).

Knotgrass is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Bladder.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat and encourages urination. Drains Dampness and stops itching. Kills parasites.

Read more about Knotgrass here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with painful urination?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat painful urination as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

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

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 Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with painful urination?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat painful urination as a symptom, like Long Dan Xie Gan Tang or Ba Zheng San for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with painful urination?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat painful urination as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Why might Plantain Seed (Che Qian Zi) help with painful urination?

Because Plantain Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat painful urination as a symptom, like Ba Zheng San or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Plantain Seeds is a Cool herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Liver, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and clears Heat. Stops diarrhea by expelling water through urination. Brightens the eyes, used in combination either for Deficiency or Heat. Reduces inflammation of infections. Arrests cough and expectorates Phlegm.

Read more about Plantain Seeds here