Swelling of the face according to Chinese Medicine

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Swelling of the face 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 swelling of the face 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 swelling of the face is often associated with shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and weak breath in the pattern “Kidneys failing to receive Qi”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of swelling of the face 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 swelling of the face.

Kidneys failing to receive Qi, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause swelling of the face

In Chinese Medicine swelling of the face is a symptom for the pattern "Kidneys failing to receive Qi". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Kidneys failing to receive Qi

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Tight (Jin), Weak (Ruo)

In addition to swelling of the face, other symptoms associated with Kidneys failing to receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and weak breath.

Kidneys failing to receive Qi is often treated with You Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). You Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidneys failing to receive Qi here

Two herbal formulas that might help with swelling of the face

Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Directs rebellious Qi downward. Arrests wheezing. Stops coughing. Warms and transforms Phlegm-Cold.

Why might Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang help with swelling of the face?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' of which swelling of the face is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys Failing To Receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and weak breath.

Read more about Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with swelling of the face?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' of which swelling of the face is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys Failing To Receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and weak breath.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat swelling of the face

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with swelling of the face?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swelling of the face as a symptom, like Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang or You Gui Wan 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 Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) help with swelling of the face?

Because Cinnamon Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swelling of the face as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Bark is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and Kidneys and tonifies the Yang. Expels Cold, Warms the meridians, promotes circulation of Qi and Blood and relieves pain. Used with tonics to assist in the generation of Qi and Blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Bark here

Why might Perilla Seed (Zi Su Zi) help with swelling of the face?

Because it is a key herb in Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' (a pattern with swelling of the face as a symptom)

Perilla Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops coughing and wheezing, expels Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Lung Qi. Lubricates the Intestines.

Read more about Perilla Seeds here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with swelling of the face?

Because it is a key herb in You Gui Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' (a pattern with swelling of the face as a symptom)

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Deer Antler Glue (Lu Jiao Jiao) help with swelling of the face?

Because it is a key herb in You Gui Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' (a pattern with swelling of the face as a symptom)

Deer Antler Glue is a Warm herb that tastes Salty and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Yang tonification of the Kidneys and Liver, and to nourish vital Essence and Blood

Read more about Deer Antler Glue here