Swellings according to Chinese Medicine

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Swellings 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 swellings 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 swellings is often associated with carbuncles, boils and coughing in the pattern “Toxic-Heat”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause swellings.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause swellings

In Chinese Medicine swellings 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.

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Toxic-Heat

Toxic-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

In addition to swellings, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat include carbuncles, boils and coughing.

Toxic-Heat is often treated with Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Yin Qiao San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Wind Heat".

Read more about Toxic-Heat here

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin, a formula used for Toxic Heat

Toxic Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to swellings, other symptoms associated with Toxic Heat include carbuncles, sores and boils.

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

Toxic Heat is often treated with Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that clear external abscesses and sores", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat".

Read more about Toxic Heat here

Three herbal formulas that might help with swellings

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Why might Yin Qiao San help with swellings?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which swellings is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat include carbuncles, boils and coughing.

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity. Cools the Blood. Reduces swelling.

Why might Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin help with swellings?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic Heat' of which swellings is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic Heat include carbuncles, sores and boils.

Read more about Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin here

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxin.

Why might Huang Lian Jie Du Tang help with swellings?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which swellings is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat include carbuncles, boils and coughing.

Read more about Huang Lian Jie Du Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat swellings

Why might Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) help with swellings?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat swellings and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat swellings as a symptom (such as Yin Qiao San for instance).

Japanese Catnip is a Neutral herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold or Heat depending on the other herbs used. Releases the Exterior for measles. Stops bleeding. Abates swellings.

Read more about Japanese Catnip here

Why might Semiaquilegia Root Tuber (Tian Kui Zi) help with swellings?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat swellings and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat swellings as a symptom (such as Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin for instance).

Semiaquilegia Root Tubers is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat, resolves toxicity, reduces swelling and disperses Stagnation

Read more about Semiaquilegia Root Tubers here

Why might Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with swellings?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat swellings and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat swellings as a symptom (such as Huang Lian Jie Du 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with swellings?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swellings as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin 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 Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with swellings?

Because Forsythia Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swellings as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Forsythia Fruits is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.

Read more about Forsythia Fruits here

Other symptoms often associated with swellings

Carbuncles Sores Boils Coughing Sore throat Lumps Abcesses Constipation Fever Eczema