TCM Principles - Useful Formulas for the Treatment of MS

TCM Principles

Useful Formulas for the Treatment of MS

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Treating MS using Chinese Medicine can be very rewarding, though challenging if TCM is not your main area of expertise. However, there is still a lot you can achieve. If you are using TCM formulas in addition to other treatment modalities, it may be useful to know the TCM disorder categories MS is associated with (e.g. blurred vision, numbness, incontinence). so you can focus your use of Chinese formulas on a particular MS symptom that you might be having difficulty with.

The main Chinese disorder category for MS is wei zheng (wilting pattern), denoting weakness and limpness of the sinews. Other categories, relating to specific symptoms, are ma mu (numbness and tingling), fa li (lack of strength), xuan yun (dizziness), mu hua (blurred or distorted vision), niao shi jin (incontinence). Below is an overview of these categories with pattern differentiations that tend to be relevant in MS and recommended formulas.


Useful Formulas for the treatment of MS

According to Flaws and Sionneau, “the single most commonly seen pattern of MS in real-life Western patients is qi and yin dual vacuity (deficiency), meaning spleen qi and liver kidney-yin vacuity (deficiency).”13

Chinese Disorder Category

Patterns relevant in MS


Weakness and limpness of the sinews (wei zheng)

Spleen deficiency: weakness and limpness of limbs, and reduced appetite, sloppy stool, lack of energy, puffiness.

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang [Ginseng & Astragalus Combination]

Liver-kidney vacuity: weakness and limpness of limbs, and aching lower back, blurred vision, dizziness, tinnitus, red tongue with little coating.

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan [Lycium, Chrysanthemum and Rehmannia Formula]

Damp heat: Weakness and limpness of limbs, and heavy cumbersome limbs, lack of strength, aversion to heat, dark urine, yellow tongue fur.

“Er Miao San” formula, to be made up from Huang Bai [Phellodendron] and Cang Zhu [Atractylodes], both equal amounts. The formula clears heat and dries dampness.

Numbness and tingling (ma mu)

Qi-blood vacuity: Pale face and tongue, fatigue.

Ba Zhen Tang [Dang Gui & Ginseng Eight Combination]

Phlegm-damp obstruction: Feeling of heaviness in limbs, fatigue, tendency to mucous.

Er Chen Tang [Citrus & Pinellia Combination] adding Si Gua Luo [Luffa].

Lack of strength (fa li)

Lack of strength is a sign of qi deficiency. Other signs and symptoms include: abdominal distension after eating, decreased appetite, sloppy stool yellowish-pale face, dizziness, low voice, shortness of breath, fatigue.

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang [Ginseng & Astragalus Combination]

Dizziness (xuan yun)

Qi deficiency:  Dizziness with lack of strength, lassitude of spirit, sloppy stool.

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang [Ginseng & Astragalus Combination]

Yin-blood deficiency: Dizziness with heat in the palms and soles, insomnia, red tongue, pale face, fatigued spirit, heart palpitations.

Gui Pi Tang [Ginseng & Longan Combination]

Kidney deficiency: Dizziness with tinnitus, forgetfulness, aching lower back, weak legs, fatigued spirit.


If kidney yang deficiency: Cold limbs and aversion to cold, pale tongue.


If kidney yin deficiency: Feeling of unrest that seems to come from the heart region, red tongue.

Kidney yang deficiency: Combine equal dosages of the herbs Xian Ling Pi (Yin Yang Huo) [Epimedium], Ba Ji Tian [Morinda], Rou Cong Rong [Cistanche], Suo Yang [Cynomorium dongariorum].


Kidney yin deficiency: Zhi Bai Di Huang Tang [Anemarrhena, Phellodendron and Rehmannia Formula]


Qi depression: Dizziness with mental depression, palpitations, irascibility, distension and pain in the rib-sides, oppression in the chest, sighing.

Yu Hu Wan (Jade Vase Pills) : Tian Nan Xing [Arisaematis], Tian Ma [Gastrodia Root], Ban Xia [Pinellia].

Damp phlegm: Dizziness and head feels heavy, nausea, oppression in the chest, tendency to obesity.

Er Chen Tang [Citrus & Pinellia Combination] with Liu Jun Zi Tang [Six Major Herb Combination]

Blurred vision (mu hua)

Qi and blood deficiency: Blurred vision with lack of strength, shortness of breath, pale face and nails, palpitations.

Ba Zhen Tang [Dang Gui & Ginseng Eight Combination]

Liver-kidney deficiency: Blurred vision, dry mouth and eyes, aching lower back and knees, hot palms and soles, night sweats.

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan [Lycium, Chrysanthemum and Rehmannia Formula]

Liver qi stagnation: Blurred vision, dizziness, rib-side distension and pain, symptom exacerbated with emotional downs.

Xiao Yao San [Bupleurum & Dang Gui Combination.]

Incontinence (niao shi jin)

Kidney qi deficiency with vacuity cold: Incontinence with nocturia, frequent, long and clear urination, pale, fatigue, lack of strength, aching lower back, aversion to cold.

Combine equal dosages of the herbs Xian Ling Pi (Yin Yang Huo) [Epimedium], Ba Ji Tian [Morinda], Rou Cong Rong [Cistanche], Suo Yang [Cynomorium dongariorum].

Lung-spleen qi vacuity : Incontinence with fatigue, shortness of breath, panting, sloppy stool, abdominal distension after eating, pale tongue.

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang [Ginseng & Astragalus Combination]

Damp heat in the bladder: Incontinence with yellow, concentrated, strong-smelling, scanty urine, nausea. Red tongue with yellow fur.

Long Dan Xie Gan Wan [Gentiana Combination]

Liver-kidney yin deficiency: Incontinence with scanty, dark urination, dry mouth and throat, dizziness, tinnitus, flushed cheekbones, sore lower back, night sweats, tendency to constipation, red tongue with scanty coating.

Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan [Anemarrhena, Phellodendron & Rehmannia Formula] with Wu Wei Zi [Schizandra].

Liver qi stagnation: Incontinence that is aggravated by stress/emotional stress. Urination feels incomplete. Irritability or frustration, sighing, rib-side distension, women are likely to suffer from PMT.

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San [Bupleurum & Peony Combination].

As spleen qi deficiency plays such a vital role in most patients with MS, please keep in mind that patients should be advised to eat a spleen-friendly diet. A spleen-friendly diet denotes fresh (unprocessed) food that is not extreme in flavour (not too spicy, salty, etc). A spleen-friendly diet should exclude foods that generate dampness, i.e. most milk products, sweets, wheat, saturated fats, greasy or oily foods, alcohol, iced beverages and too much raw or cold food. Although raw foods are generally healthy, the excessive consumption of raw foods tends to lead to sluggish digestion; hence it is advisable to combine raw foods with cooked foods (e.g. salad with a cooked meal).

*Reproduced with kind permission from Health World Limited - Australia and New Zealand

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