Scanty and dark urine according to Chinese Medicine

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Scanty and dark urine 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 scanty and dark urine 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 scanty and dark urine is often associated with dizziness, irritability and feeling of heat in the pattern “Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause scanty and dark urine.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause scanty and dark urine

In Chinese Medicine scanty and dark urine 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.

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to scanty and dark urine, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include dizziness, irritability and feeling of heat.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

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

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen

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

In addition to scanty and dark urine, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat invading the Spleen include feeling of heat, bitter taste in the mouth and poor appetite.

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen is often treated with Lian Po Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Lian Po Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat".

Read more about Damp-Heat invading the Spleen here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the king ingredient for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Yang Excess

Yang Excess

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Yang is associated with Heat, activity and Dryness and these are the general symptoms when patients have Excess Yang. They become more specific depending on the Organ involved. This pattern is often caused by the Heat Pernicious Influence, internal damage from the Seven Emotions, the Stagnation of Qi or Blood, over-exposure to hot environments or diet.

In addition to scanty and dark urine, other symptoms associated with Yang Excess include irritability, red face and fever.

Yang Excess is often treated with Da Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Da Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines".

Read more about Yang Excess 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 scanty and dark urine, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat include dizziness, lower abdominal pain and feeling of heat.

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

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to scanty and dark urine, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, irritability and lower abdominal pain.

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 Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Five herbal formulas that might help with scanty and dark urine

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

Why might Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San help with scanty and dark urine?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which scanty and dark urine is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San here

Lian Po Yin

Source date: 1862 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Why might Lian Po Yin help with scanty and dark urine?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat invading the Spleen' of which scanty and dark urine is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat Invading The Spleen include feeling of heat, bitter taste in the mouth and poor appetite.

Read more about Lian Po Yin here

Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang

Source date: 1576 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expel Dampness. Relieve pain. Move Qi and Blood.

Why might Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang help with scanty and dark urine?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat' of which scanty and dark urine is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Damp-Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Qing Re Tiao Xue 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 scanty and dark urine?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which scanty and dark urine is a symptom.

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

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Da Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Relieves constipation.

Why might Da Cheng Qi Tang help with scanty and dark urine?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Excess' of which scanty and dark urine is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Excess include irritability, red face and fever.

Read more about Da Cheng Qi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat scanty and dark urine

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with scanty and dark urine?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty and dark urine as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Lian Po Yin 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 Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with scanty and dark urine?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty and dark urine as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with scanty and dark urine?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty and dark urine as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

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 scanty and dark urine?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty and dark urine as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with scanty and dark urine?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty and dark urine as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San 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

Conditions associated with scanty and dark urine

Menstrual cramps Intermenstrual bleeding Lupus