Weak limbs according to Chinese Medicine

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Weak limbs 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 limbs 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 limbs is often associated with poor appetite, loose stools and tiredness in the pattern “Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause weak limbs.

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

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

In Chinese Medicine weak limbs 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.

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 limbs, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency include poor appetite, loose stools and tiredness.

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

Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

In addition to weak limbs, other symptoms associated with Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency include poor appetite, loose stools and tiredness.

Spleen and Lung 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 Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency here

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

Stomach Deficient and Cold

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

In addition to weak limbs, other symptoms associated with Stomach Deficient and Cold include poor appetite, tiredness and cold limbs.

Stomach Deficient and Cold is often treated with Xiao Jian Zhong Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Maltose - Yi Tang - as a key herb). Xiao Jian Zhong Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm the middle and dispel cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach)".

Read more about Stomach Deficient and Cold here

Three herbal formulas that might help with weak limbs

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 limbs?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Heavy Menstruation.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with weak limbs?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Lung Qi Deficiency include poor appetite, loose stools and tiredness.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang here

Xiao Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach). Tonifies Qi. Relieves spasmodic pain.

Why might Xiao Jian Zhong Tang help with weak limbs?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Deficient and Cold' of which weak limbs is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Deficient And Cold include poor appetite, tiredness and cold limbs.

Read more about Xiao Jian Zhong Tang here

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

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with weak limbs?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak limbs as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

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

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

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with weak limbs?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak limbs as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with weak limbs?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak limbs as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi 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 weak limbs?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak limbs as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or 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 Maltose (Yi Tang) help with weak limbs?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Jian Zhong Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Deficient and Cold' (a pattern with weak limbs as a symptom)

Maltose is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Fortifies Qi and tonifies the Spleen. Soothes and tonifies the Middle Warmer. Lubricates the Lungs.

Read more about Maltose here