Superficial edema in the extremities

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Superficial edema 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 superficial edema 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 superficial edema in the extremities is often associated with generalized body pain, irritability and feeling of heaviness in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of superficial edema in the extremities we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the three medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat superficial edema in the extremities.

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause superficial edema in the extremities

In Chinese Medicine superficial edema in the extremities is a symptom for the pattern "Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Body Fluids stagnate in the four limbs instead of flowing in the body and getting released as sweat.

In addition to superficial edema in the extremities, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs include generalized body pain, irritability and feeling of heaviness.

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs is often treated with Da Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Da Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes sweating".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

Two herbal formulas that might help with superficial edema in the extremities

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with superficial edema in the extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs' of which superficial edema in the extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Limbs include generalized body pain, irritability and feeling of heaviness.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Why might Da Qing Long Tang help with superficial edema in the extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs' of which superficial edema in the extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Limbs include generalized body pain, irritability and feeling of heaviness.

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang here

The three Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat superficial edema in the extremities

Why might Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with superficial edema in the extremities?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat superficial edema in the extremities as a symptom, like Xiao Qing Long Tang or Da Qing Long Tang for instance.

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

Why might Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with superficial edema in the extremities?

Because Ephedra is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat superficial edema in the extremities as a symptom, like Da Qing Long Tang or Xiao Qing Long Tang for instance.

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat superficial edema in the extremities as a symptom, like Da Qing Long Tang or Xiao Qing Long 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