Spasms in the extremities according to Chinese Medicine

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Spasms in the extremities 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 spasms in the extremities 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 spasms in the extremities is often associated with headaches, dizziness and vertigo in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of spasms in the extremities we’ve identified two 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 spasms in the extremities.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause spasms in the extremities

In Chinese Medicine spasms in the extremities is a symptom for the pattern "Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

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

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to spasms in the extremities, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include headaches, dizziness and vertigo.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

Two herbal formulas that might help with spasms in the extremities

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with spasms in the extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which spasms in the extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include headaches, dizziness and vertigo.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1350 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Kidney and Liver Yin. Improves vision.

Why might Qi Ju Di Huang Wan help with spasms in the extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which spasms in the extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include headaches, dizziness and vertigo.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat spasms in the extremities

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with spasms in the extremities?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spasms in the extremities as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with spasms in the extremities?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spasms in the extremities as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Zhen Gan Xi Feng 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 Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen) help with spasms in the extremities?

Because Host-Wood Poria is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spasms in the extremities as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin for instance.

Host-Wood Poria is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Heart.

Its main actions are: Calms the Mind (Shen) and promote urination.

Read more about Host-Wood Poria here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with spasms in the extremities?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spasms in the extremities as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with spasms in the extremities?

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spasms in the extremities as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here