Smelly vaginal discharge according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Smelly vaginal discharge

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

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause smelly vaginal discharge

In Chinese Medicine smelly vaginal discharge 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 smelly vaginal discharge, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include dizziness, feeling of heat and irritability.

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

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 smelly vaginal discharge, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, scanty periods 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 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

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 smelly vaginal discharge, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat include dizziness, sticky vaginal discharge and loose stools.

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

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

Spleen Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to smelly vaginal discharge, other symptoms associated with Spleen Deficiency include sticky vaginal discharge, sore back and tiredness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Spleen Deficiency is often treated with Wan Dai Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Atractylodes Rhizomes - Bai Zhu - as a key herb). Wan Dai Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that secure irregular uterine bleeding and stop vaginal discharge", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies the Middle Burner".

Read more about Spleen Deficiency here

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

Spleen Deficiency with Dampness

In addition to smelly vaginal discharge, other symptoms associated with Spleen Deficiency with Dampness include sticky vaginal discharge, tiredness and loose stools.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen Deficiency with Dampness is associated with health issues such as Vaginal Itching.

Spleen Deficiency with Dampness is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Spleen Deficiency with Dampness here

Five herbal formulas that might help with smelly vaginal discharge

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 smelly vaginal discharge?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which smelly vaginal discharge 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

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Deficiency with Dampness' of which smelly vaginal discharge is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleen Deficiency with Dampness can contribute to many health issues, including Vaginal Itching.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang 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 smelly vaginal discharge?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat' of which smelly vaginal discharge 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

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Why might Yi Huang Tang help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Deficiency' of which smelly vaginal discharge is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleen Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Read more about Yi Huang 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 smelly vaginal discharge?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which smelly vaginal discharge 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 Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat smelly vaginal discharge

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat smelly vaginal discharge as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Liu Jun Zi Tang 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat smelly vaginal discharge as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang 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 Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because Phellodendron Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat smelly vaginal discharge as a symptom, like Er Miao San or Yi Huang Tang for instance.

Phellodendron Bark is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Bladder, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness.

Read more about Phellodendron Bark here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat smelly vaginal discharge as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

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 Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with smelly vaginal discharge?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat smelly vaginal discharge as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here