Rashes according to Chinese Medicine

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Rashes 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 rashes 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 rashes is often associated with jaundice, fever and menstrual cramps in the pattern “Damp-Heat in the Liver”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause rashes.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause rashes

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

Damp-Heat in the Liver

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

This pattern is caused by excessive Heat in the Liver and Dampness due to Spleen Deficiency. Dampness can cause the formation of Phlegm.  Patients often have a feeling of fullness. It is often caused by bad diet and lifestyle, hot and damp environment and emotional stress such as anger.

In addition to rashes, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Liver include jaundice, fever and menstrual cramps.

Damp-Heat in the Liver is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Liver here

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Excess-Heat

Excess-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Tight (Jin), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Reddish-Purple

In addition to rashes, other symptoms associated with Excess-Heat include fever, irritability and flushed face.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Excess-Heat is associated with health issues such as Lupus.

Excess-Heat is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Excess-Heat here

Three herbal formulas that might help with rashes

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with rashes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Excess-Heat' of which rashes is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Excess-Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Lupus.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Why might Yin Chen Hao Tang help with rashes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' of which rashes is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Liver include jaundice, fever and menstrual cramps.

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with rashes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' of which rashes is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Liver include jaundice, fever and menstrual cramps.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat rashes

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with rashes?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat rashes as a symptom, like Yin Chen Hao Tang or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) help with rashes?

Because it is a key herb in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' (a pattern with rashes as a symptom)

Chinese Gentian is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians. Clears Liver-Fire. Clears Liver-Wind.

Read more about Chinese Gentian here

Why might Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with rashes?

Because it is a key herb in Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern '' (a pattern with rashes as a symptom)

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here

Why might Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen) help with rashes?

Because it is a key herb in Yin Chen Hao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' (a pattern with rashes as a symptom)

Virgate Wormwood is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Stomach and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Drains Damp and clears Heat, especially from the Liver and Gallbladder. Eliminates Heat and relieves the Exterior. Relieve Jaundice.

Read more about Virgate Wormwood here

Why might Thunder God Vine (Lei Gong Teng) help with rashes?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat rashes as can be seen on Thunder God Vine's page.

Thunder God Vines is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Dispels Wind and Dampness. Strongly clears Heat and resolves toxicity. Reduces swellings and stops pain. Kills parasites and bugs. Stops itching.

Read more about Thunder God Vines here

Conditions associated with rashes

Lupus