Sore legs according to Chinese Medicine

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Sore legs 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 sore legs 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 sore legs is often associated with scanty periods, lower abdominal pain and sore back in the pattern “Cold in the Uterus”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause sore legs.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of sore legs we’ve identified three 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 sore legs.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause sore legs

In Chinese Medicine sore legs 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.

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for Cold in the Uterus

Cold in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

There are two types of cold patterns: Full Cold or Empty Cold. Full cold refers to actual Cold Evil invading the Uterus and Dampness Stagnation often come along with this Full pattern. Empty cold is the result of Yang Deficiency, especially the Spleen and Kidney Yang.

In addition to sore legs, other symptoms associated with Cold in the Uterus include scanty periods, lower abdominal pain and sore back.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Cold in the Uterus is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Late Menstruation.

Cold in the Uterus is often treated with Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Wen Jing 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: "Warms the Uterus and vessels".

Read more about Cold in the Uterus 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 sore legs, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include scanty periods, lower abdominal pain and dizziness.

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

Three herbal formulas that might help with sore legs

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Why might Wen Jing Tang help with sore legs?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' of which sore legs is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Cold in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang here

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

Why might Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with sore legs?

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

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

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Supports Kidney Yang. Supplies Spleen Qi. Expels Cold and Dampness from the Uterus.

Why might Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang help with sore legs?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' of which sore legs is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Cold in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat sore legs

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with sore legs?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore legs as a symptom, like Wen Jing Tang or Shao Fu Zhu Yu 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 Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with sore legs?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sore legs as a symptom, like Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang or Wen Jing Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Evodia Fruit (Wu Zhu Yu) help with sore legs?

Because it is a key herb in Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' (a pattern with sore legs as a symptom)

Evodia Fruits is a Hot herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen, expels Cold, relieves pain and helps the Liver. Directs Rebellious Qi downward

Read more about Evodia Fruits here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with sore legs?

Because it is a key herb in Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' (a pattern with sore legs as a symptom)

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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with sore legs?

Because it is a key herb in Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold in the Uterus' (a pattern with sore legs as a symptom)

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here