Tongue ulcers according to Chinese Medicine

Tongue ulcers 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 tongue ulcers 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 tongue ulcers is often associated with mouth ulcers, insomnia and dream disturbed sleep in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-fire-blazing”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause tongue ulcers.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause tongue ulcers

In Chinese Medicine tongue ulcers 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.

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

Heart Fire blazing

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu), Full (Shi), Hasty (Cu)

In addition to tongue ulcers, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-fire-blazing include mouth ulcers, insomnia and dream disturbed sleep.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-fire-blazing is often treated with Xie Xin Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Xie Xin Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and resolve toxicity", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Drains Fire".

Read more about Heart Fire blazing here

The Small Intestine is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine

Full-Heat in the Small Intestine

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu)

In addition to tongue ulcers, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/full-heat-in-the-small-intestine include mouth ulcers, insomnia and throat pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/full-heat-in-the-small-intestine is often treated with Dao Chi San, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Akebia Stems - Mu Tong - as a key herb). Dao Chi San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears the Heart".

Read more about Full-Heat in the Small Intestine here

Three herbal formulas that might help with tongue ulcers

Xie Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxicity. Dries Dampness.

Why might Xie Xin Tang help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-fire-blazing' of which tongue ulcers is a symptom.

Read more about Xie Xin Tang here

Zi Xue Dan

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 17 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Opens the sensory orifices. Controls spasms and convulsions. Extinguishes Wind.

Why might Zi Xue Dan help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/heart-fire-blazing' of which tongue ulcers is a symptom.

Read more about Zi Xue Dan here

Dao Chi San

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears the Heart. Promotes urination.

Why might Dao Chi San help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/full-heat-in-the-small-intestine' of which tongue ulcers is a symptom.

Read more about Dao Chi San here

Acupuncture points used for tongue ulcers

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat tongue ulcers

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with tongue ulcers?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat tongue ulcers as a symptom, like Dao Chi San or Zi Xue Dan for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Zi Xue Dan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart Fire blazing' (a pattern with tongue ulcers as a symptom)

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here

Why might Akebia Stem (Mu Tong) help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Dao Chi San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Full-Heat in the Small Intestine' (a pattern with tongue ulcers as a symptom)

Akebia Stems is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and clears Heat. Clears Heat and inflammation of the Heart. Promotes lactation. Moves and smoothes the flow of Blood. Used for painful obstruction associated with either Dampness, Blood Stagnation, Wind or Heat.

Read more about Akebia Stems here

Why might Rhubarb (Da Huang) help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Xie Xin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart Fire blazing' (a pattern with tongue ulcers as a symptom)

Rhubarb is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Bright Yang stage according to the Six Stages Theory. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Read more about Rhubarb here

Why might Musk (She Xiang) help with tongue ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Zi Xue Dan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart Fire blazing' (a pattern with tongue ulcers as a symptom)

Musk is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Opens the Orifices and awakens the spirit. Moves Blood and reduces inflammation and pain. Moves downward, assisting the delivery of late or stillborn babies.

Read more about Musk here