Weak extremities according to Chinese Medicine

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Weak extremities 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 weak extremities 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 weak extremities is often associated with lower back pain, poor appetite and cold sensation in the lower half of the body in the pattern “Kidney Yang Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause weak extremities.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause weak extremities

In Chinese Medicine weak extremities is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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 weak extremities, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include lower back pain, poor appetite and cold sensation in the lower half of the body.

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

Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to weak extremities, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation include poor appetite, abdominal distension and irregular menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation is often treated with Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Motherwort Herbs - Yi Mu Cao - as a key herb). Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation here

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

Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

In addition to weak extremities, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner include lower back pain, scanty and yellow urine and red and swollen feet.

Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner is often treated with Er Miao San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Phellodendron Bark - Huang Bo - as a key herb). Er Miao San belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Expels Dampness from the Lower Burner".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner here

Four herbal formulas that might help with weak extremities

Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Invigorates the Blood.

Why might Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang help with weak extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency with Blood Stagnation' of which weak extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Blood And Qi Deficiency With Blood Stagnation include poor appetite, abdominal distension and irregular menstruation.

Read more about Ba Zhen Yi Mu Tang 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 weak extremities?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include lower back pain, poor appetite and cold sensation in the lower half of the body.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Er Miao San

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Expels Dampness from the Lower Burner. Drains Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Er Miao San help with weak extremities?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner' of which weak extremities is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Lower Burner include lower back pain, scanty and yellow urine and red and swollen feet.

Read more about Er Miao San here

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Why might Shen Qi Wan help with weak extremities?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include lower back pain, poor appetite and cold sensation in the lower half of the body.

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat weak extremities

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

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak extremities 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 weak extremities?

Because Water Plantain is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak extremities as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or Shen Qi 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 Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with weak extremities?

Because Phellodendron Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak extremities as a symptom, like Er Miao San or Er Xian Tang for instance.

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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with weak extremities?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak extremities as a symptom, like Er Xian Tang or You Gui Wan for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with weak extremities?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak extremities 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