Toothache according to Chinese Medicine

Toothache 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 toothache 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 toothache is often associated with fever, restlessness and mouth ulcers in the pattern “Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat”.

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

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause toothache

In Chinese Medicine toothache is a symptom for the pattern "Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red centre

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst and gum bleeding. Stomach Fire can be the result of excessive intake of hot, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods or other factors such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In addition to toothache, other symptoms associated with Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat include fever, restlessness and mouth ulcers.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is associated with health issues such as Mastitis, Breast Engorgement or Morning Sickness.

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is often treated with Qing Wei San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Qing Wei 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: "Drains Stomach Fire".

Read more about Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat here

Two herbal formulas that might help with toothache

Yu Nu Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Heat from the Stomach. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Yu Nu Jian help with toothache?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' of which toothache is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Fire Or Stomach Heat include fever, restlessness and mouth ulcers.

Read more about Yu Nu Jian here

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Why might Qing Wei San help with toothache?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' of which toothache is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Fire Or Stomach Heat include fever, restlessness and mouth ulcers.

Read more about Qing Wei San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat toothache

Why might Achyranthes Root (Niu Xi) help with toothache?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat toothache and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat toothache as a symptom (such as Yu Nu Jian for instance).

Achyranthes Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood and relieves pain in the raw state. Tonic to the Liver and Kidneys and strengthens the bones and sinews. Reduces Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Regulates the flow of reckless Blood caused by either ascendant Liver Yang or Yin Deficient Fire.

Read more about Achyranthes Roots here

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with toothache?

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

Goldthread Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites

Read more about Goldthread Rhizomes here

Why might Gypsum (Shi Gao) help with toothache?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat toothache and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat toothache as a symptom (such as Yu Nu Jian for instance).

Gypsum is a Cold herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and drains Fire. Clears Lung Heat. Relieves thirst and restlessness. Clears Stomach Heat.

Read more about Gypsum here

Why might Bugbane Rhizome (Sheng Ma) help with toothache?

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

Bugbane Rhizomes is a Cool herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior, scatters Wind and clears Heat. Allows the release of toxicity from the skin and clears Heat. Raises the Yang associated with Middle Qi Deficiency. Directs herbs upwards. Cools the Blood.

Read more about Bugbane Rhizomes here

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

Because it is a key herb in Yu Nu Jian, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' (a pattern with toothache as a symptom)

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