Purple face according to Chinese Medicine

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Purple face 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 purple face 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 purple face is often associated with purple lips, purple nails and palpitations in the pattern “Heart Vessel obstructed”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause purple face.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause purple face

In Chinese Medicine purple face is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Heart Vessel obstructed

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Knotted (Jie), Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to purple face, other symptoms associated with Heart Vessel obstructed include purple lips, purple nails and palpitations.

Heart Vessel obstructed 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 Heart Vessel obstructed here

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

Liver Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple sides

Liver Blood Stagnation usually develops from Qi Stagnation, Cold and Heat. It has great influence over the Directing and Penetrating Vessels and thus the menstruation functions.

In addition to purple face, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood Stagnation include purple lips, purple nails and dark clots in menstrual blood.

Liver Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). 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: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Blood Stagnation here

Three herbal formulas that might help with purple face

Dang Gui Si Ni Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Channels. Disperses Cold. Nourishes the Blood. Unblocks the Blood vessels.

Why might Dang Gui Si Ni Tang help with purple face?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Vessel obstructed' of which purple face is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Vessel Obstructed include purple lips, purple nails and palpitations.

Read more about Dang Gui Si Ni Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with purple face?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Blood Stagnation' of which purple face is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Blood Stagnation include purple lips, purple nails and dark clots in menstrual blood.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with purple face?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Blood Stagnation' of which purple face is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Blood Stagnation include purple lips, purple nails and dark clots in menstrual blood.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat purple face

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with purple face?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple face as a symptom, like Dang Gui Si Ni Tang or Xiao Yao San 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with purple face?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple face as a symptom, like Dang Gui Si Ni Tang or Xiao Yao San 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 Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with purple face?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple face as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Chai Hu Shu Gan San 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 Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with purple face?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple face as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Chai Hu Shu Gan San 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with purple face?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple face as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Dang Gui Si Ni 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