Twitching according to Chinese Medicine

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Twitching 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 twitching 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 twitching is often associated with dizziness, headaches and vertigo in the pattern “Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause twitching.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause twitching

In Chinese Medicine twitching is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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 twitching, other symptoms associated with Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, headaches and vertigo.

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

Heat victorious stirring Wind

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

In addition to twitching, other symptoms associated with Heat victorious stirring Wind include high fever, fainting and convulsions.

Heat victorious stirring Wind is often treated with Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Saiga Antelope's Horns - Ling Yang Jiao - as a key herb). Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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: "Cools the Liver".

Read more about Heat victorious stirring Wind here

Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

In addition to twitching, other symptoms associated with Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior include low-grade fever, weight loss and malar flush.

Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior is often treated with Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Achyranthes Roots - Niu Xi - as a key herb). Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang 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: "Sedates the Liver".

Read more about Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior here

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

In addition to twitching, other symptoms associated with Exterior Cold invading the Interior include dizziness, sweating that doesnt reduce fever and palpitations in the epigastrium.

Exterior Cold invading the Interior is often treated with Da Huang Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Da Huang Fu Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and purge", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Interior".

Read more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior here

Four herbal formulas that might help with twitching

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Interior. Disperses Cold. Unblocks the bowels. Alleviates pain.

Why might Da Huang Fu Zi Tang help with twitching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Exterior Cold invading the Interior' of which twitching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Exterior Cold Invading The Interior include dizziness, sweating that doesnt reduce fever and palpitations in the epigastrium.

Read more about Da Huang Fu Zi Tang 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 twitching?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Wind Agitating Internally Due To Liver Yang Rising include dizziness, headaches and vertigo.

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 twitching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat victorious stirring Wind' of which twitching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Victorious Stirring Wind include high fever, fainting and convulsions.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang 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 twitching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior' of which twitching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Empty-Wind Agitating In The Interior include low-grade fever, weight loss and malar flush.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat twitching

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with twitching?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat twitching as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang for instance.

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

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 Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with twitching?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat twitching as a symptom, like Da Huang Fu Zi Tang or Zhen Wu Tang for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with twitching?

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat twitching as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Qi Ju 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 Host-Wood Poria (Fu Shen) help with twitching?

Because Host-Wood Poria is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat twitching as a symptom, like E Jiao Ji Zi Huang Tang or Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with twitching?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat twitching as a symptom, like Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang or Zhen Gan Xi Feng 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