Postconcussion syndrome according to Chinese Medicine

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Postconcussion 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 postconcussion 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 postconcussion syndrome is often associated with palpitations, chest pain and hypochondriac pain in the pattern “Pericardium Blood Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause postconcussion syndrome.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause postconcussion syndrome

In Chinese Medicine postconcussion syndrome 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 Pericardium is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Pericardium in Chinese Medicine

Pericardium Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

In addition to postconcussion syndrome, other symptoms associated with Pericardium Blood Stagnation include palpitations, chest pain and hypochondriac pain.

Pericardium Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Pericardium Blood Stagnation here

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

Stomach Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

In addition to postconcussion syndrome, other symptoms associated with Stomach Blood Stagnation include vomiting, epigastric pain and nausea.

Stomach Blood Stagnation is often treated with Shi Xiao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Cattail Pollen - Pu Huang - as a key herb). Shi Xiao San belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates Blood".

Read more about Stomach Blood Stagnation here

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

Heart and Spleen Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

The Heart can receive sufficient Blood from the Spleen, if the latter's transformation and transportation function work properly, providing sufficient nutrients for growth and development. In turn, Heart Blood circulates and supplies the Spleen with nutrients to better perform its functions.

In addition to postconcussion syndrome, other symptoms associated with Heart and Spleen Deficiency include palpitations, dizziness and forgetfulness.

Heart and Spleen Deficiency is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Heart and Spleen Deficiency here

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 postconcussion syndrome, other symptoms associated with Spleen Yang Deficiency include fatigue, poor appetite and pale complexion.

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

Five herbal formulas that might help with postconcussion syndrome

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Why might Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Pericardium Blood Stagnation' of which postconcussion syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Shi Xiao San

Source date: 1108 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood Stagnation. Eases pain.

Why might Shi Xiao San help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Blood Stagnation' of which postconcussion syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Shi Xiao San here

Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Blood. Eliminates Blood Stagnation below the diaphragm. Stops pain. Promotes Qi movement.

Why might Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Blood Stagnation' of which postconcussion syndrome is a symptom.

Read more about Ge Xia Zhu Yu 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 postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' of which postconcussion headache is a symptom.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

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 postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which postconcussion headache is a symptom.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

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

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with postconcussion 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 postconcussion 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Blood Stagnation' (a pattern with postconcussion syndrome as a symptom)

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with postconcussion syndrome as a symptom)

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 Longan (Long Yan Rou) help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart and Spleen Deficiency' (a pattern with postconcussion syndrome as a symptom)

Longans is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Blood. Calms the spirit. Relieves fatigue, especially mental fatigue.

Read more about Longans here

Why might Red Peony Root (Chi Shao) help with postconcussion syndrome?

Because it is a key herb in Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Pericardium Blood Stagnation' (a pattern with postconcussion syndrome as a symptom)

Red Peony Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood, relieves pain and reduces swelling. Cools the Blood and the Liver.

Read more about Red Peony Roots here