Looking for a helping hand (with tongue picture)

forum post

Looking for a helping hand (with tongue picture)

Published on 11-09-2014

"archived-user" has authored 334 other posts.

Hello there,

I just wanted to start by saying I've seen two different TCM practioners over the last year. The first I went to for around 4 months and saw a worsening in symptoms. It was difficult getting past the language barrier and communicating my very basic knowledge of TCM proved difficult. I am unsure of the diagnosis but he did focus on warming my spleen. My second practioner I saw for a month and saw little to no improvement. His diagnosis - "liver depression and the kidney deficiency, qi stagnation and blood stasis. Our treatment strategy is to be coursing the liver and warming the kidney, moving qi and quickening the blood circulation." Although I don't disagree with this I do think my poor digestion should have been addressed for which I will give my reasons below.

Here's a picture of my tongue followed by my observations. My knowledge is limited so please forgive me for sounding naive:

*Taken upon rising.

- Scalloping (teeth marks) + transvere cracks on the side = Spleen Qi deficiency? - Undigested food in stool, numbness in four limbs (not constant but happenes most days, usually in between meals). Meals with a lot of fat produce lots of gas and acid reflux.
- No coating on tongue + cracks = Stomach Yin deficiency? Appetite seems to never be satisfied despite being skinny and eating quite a lot, thought this might indicate empty heat. Tongue gets very red after meals, particularly warming ones.
- Papillae on tongue (image doesn't show well) towards from of the tongue in lung and heart area = heat in lungs or heart? Also have redness in the back of throat with white mucous and red cheeks in the heart area.
- Redness a long the sides of tongue = Heat in Liver/Gallbladder. Also, slightly bloodshot eyes and eye floaters (liver qi or blood stagnation?)
- Possible inbalance in kidneys - intermittent salty taste in mouth and dull lower back pain. Slight white fuzzy coating on the very back of tongue. Also purplish marks under my eyes and lots of little pustules on my testes (not an STI).

A lot of my tongue features date back years. I'm 26 now but can remember having my tongue look like this in my teenage years, albeit slightly better than it is today. Although a lot of my observations indicate heat signs, I do also have an aversion to cold, with cold feet/lower legs in particular.

Over the past month I took it upon myself to self diagnose this and take appropriate herbal formulas, something I now know was a potentially stupid idea, but I will share my insights as this may provide useful information. I tried each one on its own for a few days:

- Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang - made my tongue quite red after just 2 days on the granules. Later realised the formula is contraindicated with yin def where empty heat is present. Other than that I can only describe it making me feel quite crap!

- Yu Quan Wan - I was hoping to address the yin def cracks and lack of tongue coating. After 2 days this did start to produce a white coating in the stomach/spleen area but appeared to weaken my digestion further - more than usual undigested food in stool, and loosely formed + watery.

- Gui Pi Pian - This was the only formula I tried that didn't make me feel completely crap! Tongue had less teeth marks in the morning and it did improve my sleep a bit. Something didn't feel quite right though, but I'm not sure why.

I would love some feedback and/or a second opinion if someone else is kind enough to offer one. I can't afford to travel to my next nearest herbalist/accupuncturist so I'm a bit stuck right now.

Kind Regards,


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  • Comments / Discussions:

    comment by "ChadD" (acupuncturist)
    on Nov 2014

    I feel you need far more yin tonifying and that makes using qi tonics very difficult to counter-productive depending on the dose and response. You don&#39t like gui pi wan because it&#39s basically bu zhong yi qi wan but with some shen calming herbs included - so too much of a qi tonic for you. And the response to yin tonics (because they are cooling) is common if you don&#39t buffer the digestion.

    Without any more informationt to go on, I would be more inclined to think you would do well with something along these lines:

    Perhaps a small amount of xiao yao wan during the day 5 tablets 2x/day with Bao He Wan 5 tablets 2x/day - this would mildly buffer and mildy strengthen the liver and spleen.

    Then at dinner and at bedtime - 5 liu wei di huang wan w/5 bao he wan - this would help the yin deficiency and taking a formula like bao he wan with the yin tonic herbs helps to ensure they don&#39t disrupt the digestion, particularly in people with both syndromes.

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    comment by "Jimmy54o"
    on Nov 2014

    Hello Chad, Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it, genuinely.

    When I get some funds together my next port of call is to give your suggestion a go.

    Thanks again and best wishes to you.

    Kind Regards,


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