Restlessness according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Restlessness

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 dark clots in menstrual blood, abdominal pain and scanty periods 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 dark clots in menstrual blood, abdominal pain and scanty periods.

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

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

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include insomnia, dizziness and night sweats.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Heat in the Blood 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 Heat in the Blood here

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

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys include insomnia, palpitations and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome.

Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys 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 Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys here

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

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency include palpitations, dizziness and fatigue.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation.

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency here

Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) is the king ingredient for Er Miao San, a formula used for Damp-Heat

Damp-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to restlessness, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat include dizziness, fever and dry mouth.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Damp-Heat is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Intermenstrual Bleeding or Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Damp-Heat is often treated with Er Miao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Phellodendron Bark - Huang Bo - as a key herb). Er Miao San belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Dampness from the Lower Burner".

Read more about Damp-Heat 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 'Heat in the Blood' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Why might Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan help with restlessness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Disharmony between Heart and Kidneys can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan 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 'Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency' of which restlessness is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Gui Pi 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 restlessness?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Damp-Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Intermenstrual Bleeding.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

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 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

Why might Chinese Senega Root (Yuan Zhi) 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 Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan for instance).

Chinese Senega Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Calms the spirit. Expels Phlegm from the Heart orifices. Expels Phlegm from the Lungs. Diminishes abscesses.

Read more about Chinese Senega Roots 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 Biota Seed (Bai Zi 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 Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan for instance).

Biota Seeds is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Heart and calms the Spirit. Moistens the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Read more about Biota Seeds here