Pale tongue according to Chinese Medicine

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Pale tongue 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 tongue 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 tongue is often associated with shortness of breath, poor appetite and palpitations in the pattern “Blood and Qi Deficiency”.

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

Blood and Qi Deficiency, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause pale tongue

In Chinese Medicine pale tongue is a symptom for the pattern "Blood and Qi Deficiency". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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 tongue, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, poor appetite and palpitations.

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

Two herbal formulas that might help with pale tongue

Ba Zhen Tang

Source date: 1326 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and augments Qi. Tonifies and augments Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Tang help with pale tongue?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood And Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, poor appetite and palpitations.

Read more about Ba Zhen Tang here

Sheng Yu Tang

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Preserves the Blood.

Why might Sheng Yu Tang help with pale tongue?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood And Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, poor appetite and palpitations.

Read more about Sheng Yu Tang here

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

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with pale tongue?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale tongue as a symptom, like Ba Zhen Tang or Sheng Yu Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with pale tongue?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale tongue as a symptom, like Sheng Yu Tang or Ba Zhen Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with pale tongue?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale tongue as a symptom, like Ba Zhen Tang or Sheng Yu 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with pale tongue?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale tongue as a symptom, like Ba Zhen Tang or Sheng Yu Tang 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

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

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat pale tongue as a symptom, like Sheng Yu Tang or Ba Zhen 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