Purple lips according to Chinese Medicine

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Purple lips 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 lips 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 lips is often associated with painful period, dark clots in menstrual blood and purple nails in the pattern “Blood Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause purple lips.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause purple lips

In Chinese Medicine purple lips 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.

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Blood Stagnation

Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian), Firm (Lao)

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

Blood Stagnation, like the name indicates, is when Blood flow becomes Stagnant. It can happen in the whole body or in specific Organs.

It is one of the most important diagnostic conditions in Chinese Medicine because it is frequently the cause of intractable pain syndromes anywhere in the body.

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

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Scanty Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Blood Stagnation is often treated with Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Tao He Cheng Qi 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: "Dispels Heat and".

Read more about Blood Stagnation 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 lips, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood Stagnation include painful period, dark clots in menstrual blood and purple nails.

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

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

Heart Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

This is a severe pattern deriving from other Heart patterns such as Heart Yang or Blood Deficiency, or Heart Qi Stagnation. Prolonged emotional stress such as grief, worry, resentment, anxiety or anger can seriously harm the Heart's functions of controlling Blood and Blood vessels as well as housing the spiritual Mind.

In addition to purple lips, other symptoms associated with Heart Blood Stagnation include purple nails, palpitations and chest pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Postpartum Depression.

Heart 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 Heart Blood Stagnation here

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

Heart Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Knotted (Jie), Weak (Ruo)

This pattern has similar symptoms to Heart Qi Deficiency, though they are usually more severe and include symptoms of Coldness. It is from similar causes as Heart Qi Deficiency, or can be from a Deficiency of Kidney Yang since that is the body's source of Yang.

In addition to purple lips, other symptoms associated with Heart Yang Deficiency include palpitations, cold hands and feeling of cold.

Heart Yang Deficiency is often treated with Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Cinnamon Bark - Rou Gui - as a key herb). Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify yin and yang", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Rectifies relationship between Yin and Yang".

Read more about Heart Yang Deficiency here

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus

Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

In addition to purple lips, other symptoms associated with Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus include painful period, dark clots in menstrual blood and infertility.

Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus is often treated with Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Wen Jing 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: "Warms the Uterus and vessels".

Read more about Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus here

Five herbal formulas that might help with purple lips

Tao He Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dispels Heat and. Eliminates Blood Stagnation.

Why might Tao He Cheng Qi Tang help with purple lips?

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

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

Read more about Tao He Cheng Qi 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 lips?

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

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

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

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 purple lips?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Blood Stagnation include purple nails, palpitations and chest pain.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Why might Wen Jing Tang help with purple lips?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Dampness and Phlegm in the Uterus' of which purple lips is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Dampness And Phlegm In The Uterus include painful period, dark clots in menstrual blood and infertility.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang here

Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Rectifies relationship between Yin and Yang. Harmonizes Heart and Kidney. Stabilizes and secures Essence.

Why might Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang help with purple lips?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Yang Deficiency' of which purple lips is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Yang Deficiency include palpitations, cold hands and feeling of cold.

Read more about Gui Zhi Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple lips as a symptom, like Tao He Cheng Qi 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 Peach Kernel (Tao Ren) help with purple lips?

Because Peach Kernel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple lips as a symptom, like Tao He Cheng Qi Tang or Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Peach Kernels is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood and breaks up Stasis. Moistens the Intestines. Relieves coughing.

Read more about Peach Kernels here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with purple lips?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple lips as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Wen Jing 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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with purple lips?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple lips as a symptom, like Da Huang Mu Dan Pi Tang or Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with purple lips?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat purple lips 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