Restlessness according to Chinese Medicine

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Restlessness 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 restlessness 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 restlessness is often associated with dizziness, dark clots in menstrual blood and abdominal pain in the pattern “Blood Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause restlessness.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause restlessness

In Chinese Medicine restlessness 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 restlessness, other symptoms associated with Blood Stagnation include dizziness, dark clots in menstrual blood and abdominal pain.

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

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a formula used for Qi And Blood Stagnation

Qi And Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Qi And Blood Stagnation include insomnia, dizziness and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi And Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi And 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 Qi And Blood Stagnation here

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

Heart Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) and it causes insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory, dizziness and tendency to be scared. It can be caused by Deficient Spleen Qi that fails to produce Blood, long-term anxiety and worry, a severe blood loss and excessive workload.

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Heart Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

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

Heart Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Heart Blood Deficiency here

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

Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo), Floating (Fu)

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized here

Dong Quai (Dang Gui) is the king ingredient for Sheng Yu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood and Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menstrual Cramps or Absence Of Menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency is often treated with Sheng Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Sheng Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with restlessness

Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes Blood and lymphatic circulation, thus eleminates Blood Stagnation. Softens and resolves hard lumps such as cysts and fibroids.

Why might Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan help with restlessness?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Intermenstrual Bleeding.

Read more about Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with restlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi And Blood Stagnation' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi And Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with restlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood and Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Shen Qi Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

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

Why might Shen Qi Si Wu Tang help with restlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Blood Deficiency' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heart Blood Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Postpartum Depression.

Read more about Shen Qi Si Wu Tang here

Jiao Tai Wan

Source date: 1522 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Restores the functional communication between the Heart and the Kidneys.

Why might Jiao Tai Wan help with restlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized' of which restlessness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys And Heart Not Harmonized include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Jiao Tai Wan here

Acupuncture points used for restlessness

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat restlessness

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

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat restlessness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat restlessness as a symptom (such as Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan for instance).

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with restlessness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat restlessness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat restlessness as a symptom (such as Gui Pi Tang for instance).

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

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

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat restlessness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat restlessness as a symptom (such as 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 Jujube Seed (Suan Zao Ren) help with restlessness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat restlessness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat restlessness as a symptom (such as Gui Pi Tang for instance).

Jujube Seeds is a Neutral herb that tastes Sour and Sweet. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Heart Yin and calms the spirit. Contains Fluid leakage.

Read more about Jujube Seeds here

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with restlessness?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat restlessness and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat restlessness as a symptom (such as Jiao Tai Wan for instance).

Goldthread Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites

Read more about Goldthread Rhizomes here