Restless dreams according to Chinese Medicine

Restless dreams 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 restless dreams 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 restless dreams is often associated with timidity, easily scared and lack of courage in the pattern “Gallbladder Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause restless dreams.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of restless dreams we’ve identified four 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 restless dreams.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause restless dreams

In Chinese Medicine restless dreams 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 Gallbladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Gallbladder in Chinese Medicine

Gallbladder Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

More than a ‘pattern’, this is really the description of a certain character or personality. The key feature of this ‘pattern’ is the character of the person: that is, their lack of courage, timidity and lack of initiative.

In addition to restless dreams, other symptoms associated with Gallbladder Deficiency include timidity, easily scared and lack of courage.

Gallbladder Deficiency is often treated with Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Wen Dan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Phlegm".

Read more about Gallbladder Deficiency here

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

Liver Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

In addition to restless dreams, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Deficiency include timidity, easily scared and lack of courage.

Liver Qi Deficiency is often treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)".

Read more about Liver Qi Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with restless dreams

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with restless dreams?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Gallbladder Deficiency' of which restless dreams is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with restless dreams?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Deficiency' of which restless dreams is a symptom.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with restless dreams?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Deficiency' of which restless dreams is a symptom.

Read more about Si Wu 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 restless dreams?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Deficiency' of which restless dreams is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat restless dreams

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with restless dreams?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat restless dreams as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Si Wu Tang 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with restless dreams?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat restless dreams as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or 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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with restless dreams?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat restless dreams as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Xiao Yao San for instance.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with restless dreams?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat restless dreams as a symptom, like 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

Why might Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with restless dreams?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat restless dreams as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Read more about Tangerine Peel here