Urinary difficulties according to Chinese Medicine

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Urinary difficulties 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 urinary difficulties 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 urinary difficulties is often associated with labored breathing in the pattern “Oedema”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause urinary difficulties.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause urinary difficulties

In Chinese Medicine urinary difficulties 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.

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wu Ling San, a formula used for Oedema

Oedema

Pulse type(s): Slowed-down (Huan), Hidden (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Oedema manifests itself as swellings due to the retention of Body Fluids. Chinese Medicine believes that it originates from the leaking of Body Fluids from their normal pathways into the space between skin and muscles.

In addition to urinary difficulties, other symptoms associated with Oedema include labored breathing.

Oedema is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Oedema 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 urinary difficulties, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and dizziness.

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

Spleen Deficiency with Dampness

In addition to urinary difficulties, other symptoms associated with Spleen Deficiency with Dampness include edema, diarrhea and general sensation of heaviness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen Deficiency with Dampness is associated with health issues such as Vaginal Itching.

Spleen Deficiency with Dampness is often treated with Wu Ling San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wu Ling San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination,".

Read more about Spleen Deficiency with Dampness here

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

Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Tooth-marked, Swollen

In addition to urinary difficulties, other symptoms associated with Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and vomiting.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Intermenstrual Bleeding.

Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Zhen Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys".

Read more about Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Stephania Roots (Fang Ji) is the king ingredient for Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang, a formula used for Wind-Damp

Wind-Damp

Pulse type(s): Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to urinary difficulties, other symptoms associated with Wind-Damp include edema and general sensation of heaviness.

Wind-Damp is often treated with Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Stephania Roots - Fang Ji - as a key herb). Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that promote urination and leach out dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema".

Read more about Wind-Damp here

Five herbal formulas that might help with urinary difficulties

Wu Pi Yin

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Reduces edema, diuretic. Regulates and strengthens Spleen Qi.

Why might Wu Pi Yin help with urinary difficulties?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Oedema' of which urinary difficulties is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Oedema include labored breathing.

Read more about Wu Pi Yin here

Wu Ling San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.

Why might Wu Ling San help with urinary difficulties?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Deficiency with Dampness' of which urinary difficulties is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Deficiency With Dampness include edema, diarrhea and general sensation of heaviness.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with urinary difficulties?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and dizziness.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

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 urinary difficulties?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which urinary difficulties is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Or Kidney Yang Deficiency include edema, coughing and vomiting.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Diuretic, clears Excess fluid and removes edema. Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Calms External Wind.

Why might Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang help with urinary difficulties?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Damp' of which urinary difficulties is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Damp include edema and general sensation of heaviness.

Read more about Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat urinary difficulties

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

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat urinary difficulties as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Wu Ling San 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 Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with urinary difficulties?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat urinary difficulties as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Shen Qi Wan 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 Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with urinary difficulties?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat urinary difficulties as a symptom, like Wu Ling San or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Water Plantain is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Causes urination and removes Damp-Heat

Read more about Water Plantain here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with urinary difficulties?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat urinary difficulties as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Fang Ji Huang 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

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with urinary difficulties?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat urinary difficulties as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here