Piriformis syndrome according to Chinese Medicine

Piriformis syndrome 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 piriformis syndrome 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 piriformis syndrome is often associated with edema and loose stools in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of piriformis syndrome we’ve identified three 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 piriformis syndrome.

Spleen Yang Deficiency, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause piriformis syndrome

In Chinese Medicine piriformis syndrome is a symptom for the pattern "Spleen Yang Deficiency". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe with additional Cold symptoms, such as cold feeling and cold limbs. The causes are similar to these of Spleen Qi Deficiency, along with surplus consumption of cold, raw foods and drinks and overexposure to cold damp environments and climates.

In addition to piriformis syndrome, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency include edema and loose stools.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency is often treated with Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Zhen Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys".

Read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency here

Three herbal formulas that might help with piriformis syndrome

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency' of which piriformis syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency' of which piriformis syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Why might Yi Huang Tang help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/spleen-yang-deficiency' of which piriformis syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Yi Huang Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat piriformis syndrome

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with piriformis syndrome as a symptom)

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with piriformis syndrome as a symptom)

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with piriformis syndrome as a symptom)

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with piriformis syndrome as a symptom)

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

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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with piriformis syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with piriformis syndrome as a symptom)

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here