Tinnitus according to Chinese Medicine

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Tinnitus 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 tinnitus 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 tinnitus is often associated with dizziness, night sweats and insomnia in the pattern “Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause tinnitus.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause tinnitus

In Chinese Medicine tinnitus is a symptom for 5 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 tinnitus, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

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 tinnitus, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to tinnitus, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and back pain.

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba 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: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

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

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue color: Red

Liver Yang Rising can create Interior Wind if the condition is not treated for a long time. It can be divided to three categories based on the cause of the pattern: Liver Yin Deficiency, Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency or Liver Blood Deficiency.

In addition to tinnitus, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising 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 Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising here

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

Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to tinnitus, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency include dizziness, night sweats and fatigue.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation.

Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency is often treated with Dang Gui Di Huang Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Dang Gui Di Huang Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Blood".

Read more about Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with tinnitus

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Why might Zuo Gui Wan help with tinnitus?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Zuo Gui 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 tinnitus?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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 tinnitus?

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

Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Kidney Yang. Strengthens the Essence.

Why might Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan help with tinnitus?

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

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

Read more about Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan here

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Why might Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang help with tinnitus?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising' of which tinnitus is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, night sweats and insomnia.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

Acupuncture points used for tinnitus

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat tinnitus

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

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat tinnitus and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat tinnitus as a symptom (such as Zuo Gui 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 Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with tinnitus?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat tinnitus and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat tinnitus as a symptom (such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance).

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi) help with tinnitus?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat tinnitus and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat tinnitus as a symptom (such as Zuo Gui 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 Cuscuta Seed (Tu Si Zi) help with tinnitus?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat tinnitus and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat tinnitus as a symptom (such as Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan for instance).

Cuscuta Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies Kidney Yang and Essence. Nourishes the Liver.

Read more about Cuscuta Seeds here

Why might Oyster Shell (Mu Li Ke) help with tinnitus?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat tinnitus and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat tinnitus as a symptom (such as Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang for instance).

Oyster Shells is a Cold herb that tastes Salty. It targets the Bladder, the Gallbladder, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Calms and anchors the spirit. Moistens Dryness. Softens and removes lumps. Nourish the Yin and subdues the overflowing of the Yang,

Read more about Oyster Shells here