Tics according to Chinese Medicine

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Tics 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 tics 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 tics is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and hot flushes in the pattern “Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause tics.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause tics

In Chinese Medicine tics is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to tics, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and hot flushes.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui 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: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to tics, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Menopausal Syndrome, Prolonged Periods or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yin Deficiency 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 Kidney Yin Deficiency here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Thick coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Stiff

The invasion of Exterior Wind-Heat leads to this pattern and it then transforms to Interior Wind and Heat.

In addition to tics, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat include dizziness, paralysis and coma.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat is often treated with Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Gastrodia Rhizomes - Tian Ma - as a key herb). Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Calms the Liver".

Read more about Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat here

Four herbal formulas that might help with tics

Zuo Gui Yin

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Tonifies the Kidneys.

Why might Zuo Gui Yin help with tics?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which tics is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Zuo Gui Yin 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 tics?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yin Deficiency' of which tics is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Why might Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin help with tics?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to extreme Heat' of which tics is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Extreme Heat include dizziness, paralysis and coma.

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin here

Gui Shao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 1706 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Gui Shao Di Huang Tang help with tics?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which tics is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Gui Shao Di Huang Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat tics

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with tics?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Yin or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with tics?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Gui Shao Di Huang Tang or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen) help with tics?

Because Host-Wood Poria is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin or Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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 Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi) help with tics?

Because Goji Berry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Yin or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Goji Berries is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Yin of the Liver and Yin of the Kidneys. Brightens the eyes. Moistens the Lungs.

Read more about Goji Berries here

Why might Chrysanthemum Flower (Ju Hua) help with tics?

Because Chrysanthemum Flower is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

Chrysanthemum Flowers is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and clears Heat. Relieves Wind-Heat from the Liver channel and clears the eyes. Cools Heat of the Liver and Kidney due to Yin Deficiency. Relieves patterns of Liver Yang rising.

Read more about Chrysanthemum Flowers here

Conditions associated with tics

Menopausal syndrome