Unsteadiness according to Chinese Medicine

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Unsteadiness 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 unsteadiness 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 unsteadiness is often associated with dizziness, sweating that doesnt reduce fever and palpitations in the epigastrium in the pattern “Exterior Cold invading the Interior”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause unsteadiness.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause unsteadiness

In Chinese Medicine unsteadiness 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.

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

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

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

In addition to unsteadiness, 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

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

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to unsteadiness, other symptoms associated with Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency include dizziness, loose stools and blurred vision.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency is often treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)".

Read more about Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency here

Three herbal formulas that might help with unsteadiness

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with unsteadiness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Exterior Cold invading the Interior' of which unsteadiness 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 Zhen Wu Tang here

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1675 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi. Removes Dampness. Moves Qi. Alleviates pain.

Why might Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang help with unsteadiness?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen and Stomach Qi Deficiency' of which unsteadiness is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Stomach Qi Deficiency include dizziness, loose stools and blurred vision.

Read more about Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang here

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 unsteadiness?

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

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat unsteadiness

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with unsteadiness?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat unsteadiness as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with unsteadiness?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat unsteadiness 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with unsteadiness?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat unsteadiness as a symptom, like Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with unsteadiness?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat unsteadiness as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with unsteadiness?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat unsteadiness as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here