Psychological Symptoms; An Overview Of Herbs That Leads To Select The Formula 1/2

△Huang Lian, Fu Ling, Zhi Zi, and Xiang Chi are the sovereign medicinal herbs that treat various psychological symptoms, but the application of each herb is different. imageⓒAdobeStock_terovesalainen

By Daniel Cho, L.Ac. (email: [email protected])

I want to provide a comprehensive overview of herbs that will be used as sovereign medicinal herbs (Junyao) in herbal formulas that treat various psychiatric disorders. As you diagnose your patients with psychological problems, always keep in mind each herb’s characteristics. Then, you can easily find the right formula for the symptom.

Huang Lian

Main Symptoms

① Huang Lian is used for Yang-natured patients who display insomnia with difficulty falling asleep that is triggered or worsened by external stimuli. Upper Heat is often accompanied by insomnia.

② Even the patient sleeps well under normal circumstances, but if there’s an important event the following day, a change in sleeping place (such as sleeping in a hotel), tension, worry, or stress, the patient will have a hard time falling asleep for at least 1 to 2 hours.

③ Upper Heat will be triggered/worsened by stress, tension, excitement, heat stimulus, alcohol and such.

  • Possible Symptoms: Fire signs such as ① redness of the face and dermatographia ②Heart palpitations ③Heartburn from spicy or irritating food ④Bleeding
  • CAPE: Huang Lian patients are Yang-natured people who are impatient, dynamic, outgoing, strong-willed, with high self-esteem, and always have to be right. The main emotions are excitement and anger, along with sensitivity, nervousness, and anxiety. Generally, Huang Lian patients are easily excited, irritated, annoyed, and angered.

Fu Ling

  • Main symptoms: Yin-natured or in-between(mixed), and often with signs of sleep difficulty, especially problems with falling asleep (common in Ling Gui Gan formulas). (For patients who normally sleep well) suppose external stimuli are present, such as an important event the next day. In that case, environmental changes (i.e., sleeping in a hotel), anxiety, worry, or stress will cause trouble falling asleep for 1 to 2 hours or longer.
  • Possible symptoms: ①Heart palpitations ②(When used w/water regulating herbs) dizziness, localized tremors, urinating problems, mild edema due to Water Toxin.
  • CAPE: ①Yin-nature or in-between(mixed). ②Main emotions are worry and doubt, along with sensitivity, nervousness, and anxiety. They tend to be timid and worry too much. Hypochondria is a case in point.
  • TIP: Clinical signs are similar to those of Hwang Lian, but compared to Yang-natured Hwang Lian patients, Fu Ling patients are Yin-natured or in-between(mixed). They tend to complain of various symptoms, but such symptoms are usually mild in terms of severity, especially compared to those of Huang Lian.

Zhi Zi

  • CAPE: ①Appearance (body type): normal to overweight, with normal to good stamina. ②Color: dark complexion with skin pigmentation. Patients with pale complexion are rare. ③Yellow eyes. ④Personality is Yin-natured and emotionally stable.
  • Possible Symptoms: ①Aversion to heat or localized redness and heat. ②Heavy drinking, or, contrastingly, alcohol intolerance. ③Increased GOT, GPT, fatty liver, and resultant fatigue, various liver disorders due to weak liver function. ④Skin disorders with redness and rash due to increased toxins in the bloodstream from consumption of alcohol, food and such (poor liver detoxification). ⑤Insomnia with frequent awakenings.
  • Tendencies: ①Clean TIOM chart, meaning a few physical symptoms. ②Skin rash and redness upon scratching.

Xiang Chi + Zhi Zi

  • Main Symptoms: Yin-natured, insomnia with difficulty falling asleep combined with chest fullness and Upper Heat. ①Insomnia with difficulty falling asleep: (Even if patients normally sleep well) if there are external stimuli such as an important event the next day, environmental changes (i.e., sleeping in a hotel), anxiety, worries, or stress, patients will have trouble falling asleep, for 1 to 2 hours or longer. ②Chest discomfort: chest fullness is more common than heart palpitations. Symptoms of chest discomfort will also include chest obstruction, blockage, pain, and/or heat. ③Upper Heat: Hot flushes caused by stress, tension, excitement, heat stimulus, alcohol and other such factors.
  • CAPE: Xiang Chi + Zhi Zi patients are Yin-natured and are generally slow, reserved, quiet, patient, inexpressive, static, mild-tempered, emotionally down and/or depressed. The main emotions are sorrow, oppression, and sometimes depression and anxiety.
  • TIP: Since Xiang Chi + Zhi Zi’s clinical signs are similar to those of Huang Lian, in such cases, Personality (Yin/Yang) would be the only distinguishing quality.




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