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  • Three Kinds
  • Deficiency of the Kidney-yin
                Six Herbs Soup
                Analysis of the Formula
  • Dryness-heat in the Lung and Stomach
                Fairy Soup
                Analysis of the Formula




    In traditional Chinese medicine, the disease is categorized as "xiao ke," literally to mean 'hungry and thirsty,' which refers to diabetes. According to the Chinese, the characteristics of a typical case of "xiao ke" are 'three more and one less,' with the 'three more' referring to polydipsia (excessive thirst, therefore drink more), polyphagia (great hunger, therefore eat more), polyuria (excessive secretion of urine, therefore urinate more); and the 'one less,' loss of body weight.

    The Chinese consider 'xiao ke' being mainly caused by an excessive eating pattern, often with an overindulgence in a heavy meat-and-fat diet full of refined foods. Such eating habit often generates pathogenic heat in the stomach and lungs that in turn dries up body fluid, particularly that of the kidneys. The drop in body fluids is often accompanied by thirst, inflammations, infections, thinness, red tongue, etc., which are signs of a yin (body fluid) deficiency syndrome. Nearly all cases of diabetes are marked by one or more signs of yin deficiency.

    The high-fat diet that often supports diabetes also causes liver stagnation, a condition of excess which imbalances the spleen-pancreas, thereby making pancreatic secretions such as insulin less effective.


    Three Kinds

    Chinese differentiate diabetes mellitus into three kinds, according to the symptoms:

    'shang-xiao'--upper, or lung, diabetes, characterized by polydipsia (excessive thirst);

    'zhong-xiao'--middle, or stomach, diabetes, characterized by polyphagia (great hunger), thinness, constipation, etc.

    We put both 'shang-xiao' and 'zhong-xiao' into the category of 'dryness-heat in the lung and stomach.'

    'xia-xiao'--lower, or kidney, diabetes, characterized by polyuria (frequent urination) with turbid discharge, impotence, etc. We call it 'deficiency of the kidney-yin.'


    Deficiency of the Kidney-yin

    Main symptoms and signs: thirst with strong desire to drink, frequent urination with turbid discharge, soreness and weakness of the lower back, dry mouth and tongue, constipation, fatigue and listlessness, pain or agitation with feverish sensation in the chest, palms and soles, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, thinning, red tongue, deep, thready and rapid pulse.

    Therapeutic principle: replenish kidney yin, moisten dryness, clear lung and stomach heat.

    Six Herbs Soup

    For diabetes mellitus with the above symptoms, the Chinese generally recommend the classic Six Herbs Soup (Liu Wei Di Huang Tang), with the following ingredients:

    prepared rehmannia root 24g
    dogwood fruit 12g
    Chinese yam 12g
    Alismatis rhizome 9g
    tuckahoe 12g
    mutan bark 9g

    All the above herbs are to be decocted in water for oral administration.

    Analysis of the Formula

    The Six Herbs Soup is a representative formula for treating the deficient syndrome of kidney-, liver- and spleen-pancreas-yin, complicated by invasion of pathogenic heat in the lung and stomach, with typically the following symptoms: consumptive thirst, weakness and tiredness in waist and legs, vertigo (dizziness), tinnitus (ringing ear), deafness, night sweat, seminal emission. Or, the flaring up of deficiency-fire leading to symptoms such as bone-steaming (osteopyrexia), hectic fever, feverish sensation in the palms and soles, toothache, dry mouth and throat, red tongue with little coating, thready and rapid pulse.

    In the formula, the principal herb is prepared rehmannia root, which possesses the effect of nourishing the kidney-yin and supplementing the essence to produce the blood. Dogwood fruit, being sour in flavor and warm in nature, is used for nourishing the kidney, replenishing the liver, and astringing semen to prevent emission. Chinese yam with sweet flavor and mild nature is used to replenish the kidney and spleen-pancreas-yin. These three herbs create "three tonification" of nourishing the liver-blood, replenishing the spleen-pancreas-yin, and tonifying the kidney-yin. However, prepared rehmannia root is sweet in flavor and warm in nature and, in the Chinese theory, is therefore sticky and greasy. Dogwood fruit is sour in flavor and warm in nature and it tends to reinforce the liver-fire. To balance the excessiveness of these tonifying herbs, three other herbs are added. Alismatis rhizome combines with prepared rehmannia root would have the effect of clearing the kidney and excreting the turbid evils to prevent the sticky. Mutan bark combines with dogwood fruit serve to cool and purge liver-fire. Tuckahoe and Chinese yam together have the added function of excreting the spleen-dampness. These three are dispatcher herbs, known as " three purgation."

    To sum up, this formula shows that the herbs work as both tonics and purgatives, supplementing each other, and is considered to be a tonifying formula with mild effect, one that can be consumed in long period.

    In addition to treating diabetes mellitus, this formula is used for chronic nephritis, addisonian syndrome, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, menopause, toothache and neurosis that pertain to symptoms of deficiency of the liver- and kidney-yin. Originally, the formula was used to treat loss of voice and pale complexion of children caused by deficiency of kidney-and liver-yin.


    Dryness-heat in the Lung and Stomach

    Main symptoms of this kind of diabetes are restless, excessive thirst, great hunger, dryness of the mouth and tongue, frequent urination, red tongue with yellowish fur, slippery and rapid pulse.

    Therapeutic principle: clear lung and stomach heat, nourish yin, moisten dryness.

    Fairy Soup

    The representative recipe used to treat this kind of diabetes is the Fairy Soup (Yu Nu Jian), with the following herbs:

    gypsum 15-30g
    prepared rehmannia root 9-30g
    ophipogon root 6g
    windweed rhizome 4.5g
    ox-knee root 4.5g

    All the above herbs are to be decocted in water for oral administration.

    Analysis of the Formula

    This is a common formula for toothache and gum hemorrhage due to exuberance of the stomach-fire with deficiency of the kidney-yin. Gypsum is the main herb to purge the stomach-fire and to promote generation of body fluid and quench thirst. Prepared rehmannia root is the assistant herb to strengthen the kidney-yin for restraining the fire. As the auxiliary herbs, windweed rhizome can help gypsum clear the stomach and quench thirst; ophipogon root can assist prepared rehmannia root in nourishing yin to moisten dryness. Ox-knee root acts as the dispatcher herb to strengthen not only the liver and kidney but also bones and tendons, as well as to conduct the blood-heat downwards.

    The formula is used for syndrome of the stomach-heat with yin deficiency manifested by fever with thirst, toothache, headache, hemorrhage, red tongue with yellow and dry coating; or consumptive-hunger marked by eating much yet ever feeling hungry. Besides being used to treat diabetes mellitus, this formula is often used for gum disease, acute stomatitis, toothache, etc., that are caused by excessive fire in the stomach and yin deficiency in the kidney.

    Depending on the depth of the symptoms, most diabetics who take the formula and decide to eat and live in harmony and in discipline show significant improvement within at most a few months. Those on insulin can usually reduce their dosage gradually (under a doctor's supervision). It is not uncommon for insulin to eventually become unnecessary. Of equal importance to diet is vigorous exercise, which lowers blood sugar levels and thereby reduces the need for insulin. Exercise also improves the circulation, which tends to be poor in diabetics.








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