Urinary retention according to Chinese Medicine

Urinary retention 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 retention 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 retention is often associated with low-grade fever, night sweats and five palm heat in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yin”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause urinary retention.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause urinary retention

In Chinese Medicine urinary retention 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.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Da Bu Yin Wan, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yin

Collapse of Yin

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

In addition to urinary retention, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yin include low-grade fever, night sweats and five palm heat.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yin is often treated with Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Da Bu Yin 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: "Enriches the Yin".

Read more about Collapse of Yin here

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wu Ling San, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-accumulation-of-water

Greater Yang Accumulation of Water

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Floating (Fu)

In addition to urinary retention, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-accumulation-of-water include aversion to cold, fever and vomiting of fluids soon after drinking.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-accumulation-of-water 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 Greater Yang Accumulation of Water here

Two herbal formulas that might help with urinary retention

Da Bu Yin Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Enriches the Yin. Directs fire downward.

Why might Da Bu Yin Wan help with urinary retention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/collapse-of-yin' of which urinary retention is a symptom.

Read more about Da Bu Yin Wan 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 retention?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-accumulation-of-water' of which urinary retention is a symptom.

Read more about Wu Ling San here

Acupuncture points used for urinary retention

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

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

Because it is a key herb in Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' (a pattern with urinary retention 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

Why might Tortoise Plastron (Gui Ban) help with urinary retention?

Because it is a key herb in Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' (a pattern with urinary retention as a symptom)

Tortoise Plastrons is a Cool herb that tastes Salty and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Yin and holds down the Yang. Strengthens the Kidneys and strengthens the bones. Cools the Blood, stops uterine bleeding. Nourishes the Heart. Promotes Healing.

Read more about Tortoise Plastrons here

Why might Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with urinary retention?

Because it is a key herb in Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' (a pattern with urinary retention as a symptom)

Phellodendron Bark is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Bladder, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness.

Read more about Phellodendron Bark here

Why might Anemarrhena Rhizome (Zhi Mu) help with urinary retention?

Because it is a key herb in Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' (a pattern with urinary retention as a symptom)

Anemarrhena Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and Fire from the Qi level. Clears Heat and Fire from the Lung and Stomach. Clears Heat and tonifies the Yin.

Read more about Anemarrhena Rhizomes here

Why might Water Plantain (Ze Xie) help with urinary retention?

Because it is a key herb in Wu Ling San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Greater Yang Accumulation of Water' (a pattern with urinary retention as a symptom)

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