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

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 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 Qi Ju Di Huang Wan here

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 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 Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Why might Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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 Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat tics

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with tics?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Qi Ju Di Huang Wan or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with tics?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Qi Ju Di Huang Wan or Liu Wei 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 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

Why might Gambir Stem And Thorn (Gou Teng) help with tics?

Because Gambir Stem And Thorn 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.

Gambir Stems And Thorns is a Cool herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Calms Liver Wind and relieves spasms. Clears Liver Heat and sedates Liver Yang.

Read more about Gambir Stems And Thorns here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with tics?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tics as a symptom, like Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang or Gui Shao Di Huang Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Conditions associated with tics

Menopausal syndrome