TCM Principles - Geriatircs, a Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective


TCM Principles


Geriatrics – A Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective



Geriatrics is the branch of medicine dealing with the physiologic characteristics of ageing and the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the aged.


The Physiologic Characteristics of the Elderly According to TCM

Although Chinese Medicine associates ageing itself with deficiency of primarily kidney and spleen, it is interesting to note that the majority of the aged don’t seem to die from that deficiency, but from excess syndromes. As Giovanni Maciocia stresses, “modern diseases of the elderly that account for 90% of mortality (cancer, heart disease and stroke) are characterized by Fullness. Quite simply, we do not die of kidney deficiency but of phlegm, blood stasis and internal wind”.


1. The Ageing Process and the Kidneys

Kidney essence is the reproductive essence of the kidney. It is nourished by post heaven essence, but declines naturally with age. Healthy habits can prevent premature or excessive decline. Traditionally, kidney support has been regarded as an important preventative in the elderly, and many elderly in China routinely take products such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan [Rehmannia Six Formula] as general kidney support. Kidney supplementing formulas should be used cautiously in those with a weak digestive system or used with spleen supporting formulas such as Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang [Saussurea & Cardamon Combination].


Kidney deficiency signs do include many symptoms of ageing: Urinary disturbances such as frequent and long voidings of clear urine or incontinence, bad hearing or deafness, tinnitus, weak and aching lumbus and knees, lack of strength, declining sexual drive, loose teeth, brittle bones, hair loss, dizziness, forgetfulness, insomnia, lack of warmth in the extremities and/or cold intolerance (kidney yang vacuity), or night sweats (kidney yin vacuity) can all be treated or prevented with kidney supplementation.


Popular Formulas in TCM Geriatrics - Kidney Support

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

[Rehmannia Six Formula]

Supplements liver and kidney yin, clears vacuity heat, drains damp.

Vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, weak lower-back/ knees, urinary incontinence. Hypoglycaemic, antihypertensive, improves kidney function, hematinic.

Qi Ju Di Huang Wan

[Lycium, Chrysanthemum & Rehmannia Formula]

Supplements liver and kidney yin, brightens the eyes.

Blurred vision, weakened vision, sensitivity to light, dry eyes, painful eyes, headache, dizziness, vague consciousness, tinnitus, hearing disorders, weak lower back and legs, stiffness of the tendons, night sweats. Hypoglycaemic, antihypertensive, improves kidney function, hematinic.

Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan

[Anemarrhena, Phellodendron & Rehmannia Formula]

Supplements liver and kidney yin, clears heat and purges fire, moistens dryness.

Subjective feeling of heat, facial flushing, low grade afternoon fever, night sweats, vague consciousness, fainting, vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, weak lower back and knees, thirst (especially at night), dark urine, dysuria, incontinence etc. (see also Liu Wei Di Huang Wan [Rehmannia Six Formula] for basic kidney yin vacuity signs). Improves kidney function, regulates adrenal cortex, demulcent febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, refrigerant.

You Gui Wan

[Right Returning Formula]

Warms and supplements kidney yang, supplements blood and essence.

Chills, cold extremities, knee and lower back aches and soreness, lack of vitality and spirit, impotence. Stimulant, regulates adrenal cortex, strengthens metabolism, hematinic.


As kidney qi declines, so does spleen qi, with resulting digestive problems and a weakened immune system.


Popular Formulas in TCM Geriatrics – Spleen/Digestive/Immune Support

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

[Tonify the Middle Formula]

Supplements qi and strengthens the spleen, aids the ascending of pure yang and lifts prolapse.

Recurring infections, no vigour, tires easily, weak extremities, laboured movement, sleepiness (especially in the afternoon), vague consciousness, shortness of breath, constipation or loose to watery stools, organ prolapse. Digestant, tonic, adjuvant chemotherapy, tones weak structures.

Ma Zi Ren Wan

[Apricot Seed & Linum Formula] general information media press gallery illustration -->

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