Pale complexion according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Pale complexion

bright-pale face, dull face, dull-pale complexion and pale face redirect here

Pale complexion 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 pale complexion 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 pale complexion is often associated with dizziness, scanty periods and palpitations in the pattern “Blood Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause pale complexion.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of pale complexion we’ve identified five 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 pale complexion.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause pale complexion

In Chinese Medicine pale complexion is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Si Wu Tang, a formula used for Blood Deficiency

Blood Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

Someone has a Deficiency of Blood when their entire body, a part of body or a particular Organ is insufficiently nourished by Blood.

This can be caused by blood-loss, a lack of of Spleen Qi (responsible to produce Blood) or congealed Blood which prevents new Blood from forming.

In addition to pale complexion, other symptoms associated with Blood Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Blood Deficiency here

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

Lung Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Slowed-down (Huan), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to pale complexion, other symptoms associated with Lung Yang Deficiency include poor appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Lung Yang Deficiency is often treated with Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm interior cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Lungs".

Read more about Lung Yang Deficiency here

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

Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

In addition to pale complexion, other symptoms associated with Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency include palpitations, depression and shortness of breath.

Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to pale complexion, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include dizziness, scanty periods and poor appetite.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

Dong Quai (Dang Gui) is the king ingredient for Sheng Yu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to pale complexion, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and poor appetite.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood and Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menstrual Cramps or Absence Of Menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency is often treated with Sheng Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Sheng Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with pale complexion

Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Nourishes the Heart. Calms the spirit.

Why might Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang help with pale complexion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood Deficiency' of which pale complexion is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with pale complexion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which pale complexion is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood and Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Strengthens the Stomach.

Why might Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang help with pale complexion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Yang Deficiency' of which pale complexion is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Yang Deficiency include poor appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Read more about Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang here

Bao Yuan Tang

Source date: 1624

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

Why might Bao Yuan Tang help with pale complexion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung and Heart Qi Deficiency' of which pale complexion is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung And Heart Qi Deficiency include palpitations, depression and shortness of breath.

Read more about Bao Yuan Tang here

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.

Why might Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang help with pale complexion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which pale complexion is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Late Menstruation.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat pale complexion

Why might Donkey-Hide Gelatin (E Jiao) help with pale complexion?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat pale complexion and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat pale complexion as a symptom (such as Liang Di Tang for instance).

Donkey-Hide Gelatin is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies and nourishes Blood. Stops bleeding. Moistens and lubricates Yin.

Read more about Donkey-Hide Gelatin here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with pale complexion?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale complexion as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with pale complexion?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale complexion as a symptom, like Ren Shen Yang Rong Tang or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with pale complexion?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale complexion as a symptom, like Sheng Yu Tang or Si Wu 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with pale complexion?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale complexion as a symptom, like Da Bu Yuan Jian or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

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