Red eyes according to Chinese Medicine

Red eyes 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 red eyes 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 red eyes is often associated with irritability, constipation and red face in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause red eyes.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause red eyes

In Chinese Medicine red eyes is a symptom for 3 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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

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

In addition to red eyes, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire include irritability, constipation and red face.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire is often treated with Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Saiga Antelope's Horns - Ling Yang Jiao - as a key herb). Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Cools the Liver".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire here

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

Liver Fire Blazing

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

In addition to red eyes, other symptoms associated with Liver Fire Blazing include irritability, constipation and red face.

Liver Fire Blazing 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 Liver Fire Blazing here

Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma) is the king ingredient for Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, a formula used for Interior Wind

Interior Wind

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

In addition to red eyes, other symptoms associated with Interior Wind include irritability, constipation and red face.

Interior Wind is often treated with Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Gastrodia Rhizomes - Tian Ma - as a key herb). Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Calms the Liver".

Read more about Interior Wind here

Five herbal formulas that might help with red eyes

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Why might Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang help with red eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire' of which red eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng 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 red eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Fire Blazing' of which red eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Drains Liver and Gallbladder Fire Excess.

Why might Dang Gui Long Hui Wan help with red eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Fire Blazing' of which red eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Dang Gui Long Hui Wan here

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with red eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which red eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with red eyes?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Interior Wind' of which red eyes is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Acupuncture points used for red eyes

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat red eyes

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with red eyes?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat red eyes as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with red eyes?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat red eyes as a symptom, like Bu Gan Tang or Si Wu Tang for instance.

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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with red eyes?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat red eyes as a symptom, like Dang Gui Long Hui Wan or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with red eyes?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat red eyes as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with red eyes?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat red eyes as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Wen Dan Tang for instance.

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