Weak knees according to Chinese Medicine

cold and weak knees redirects here

Weak knees 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 knees 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 knees is often associated with dizziness, poor appetite and thin and watery periods in the pattern “Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause weak knees.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause weak knees

In Chinese Medicine weak knees 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.

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to weak knees, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency include dizziness, poor appetite and thin and watery periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi 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".

Read more about Qi Deficiency 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 weak knees, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and night sweats.

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

Five herbal formulas that might help with weak knees

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with weak knees?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' of which weak knees is a symptom.

Read more about Si Jun Zi 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 knees?

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

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with weak knees?

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

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

Er Xian Tang

Source date: 1950 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys. Clears Empty Heat. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels.

Why might Er Xian Tang help with weak knees?

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

Read more about Er Xian Tang 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 knees?

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

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here

Acupuncture points used for weak knees

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

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

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

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

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

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with weak knees?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak knees as a symptom, like Dang Gui Di Huang Yin or Er Xian Tang for instance.

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

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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with weak knees?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak knees as a symptom, like Zuo Gui Yin or Qi Ju Di Huang Wan for instance.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with weak knees?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak knees as a symptom, like Fu Tu Dan or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

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

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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with weak knees?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak knees as a symptom, like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

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

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