Edema is defined as a pathological accumulation of water between the skin and muscles. This can lead to swelling of the face, eyes, extremities, abdomen, or even the whole body. It is caused by functional disorders of the Lung, Spleen, Kidney and/or San Jiao. It can be caused by such biomedically defined conditions as acute glomerulonephritis, nephrotic syndrome, congestive heart failure, endocrine disease or nutritional disturbance.

Yang Shui (Yang type edema): acute onset, brief duration, edema begins in the upper body (face and under the eyes); skin color is fresh and bright; scanty yellow urine, constipation, strong and slippery pulse. This type of edema tends to effect patients who are young or have a strong constitution.




Y a n g

T y p e

Wind-cold attack the Lung

abrupt onset of edema with puffy face and eyelids which then spreads systemically, lustrous skin, chills and fever, muscle aches, joint pain; possible difficult urination; floating and tight pulse

Ma Huang Tang modified

Internal accumulation of water and dampness

generalized edema and sensation of heaviness, deep pitting in edematous skin after pressing; diarrhea, scanty urine or difficult urination, heavy and tight sensation in the chest, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea white greasy tongue coating, slippery pulse

Wu Ling San + Ping Wei San

Spleen deficiency with dampness and Qi stagnation

“Pi Shui”: Systemic edema, sensation of heaviness in the body, deep pitting after pressing; distention in the epigastrium, labored breathing, urinary difficulty; or edema during pregnancy

Wu Pi San

Damp-heat with Yin impairment

systemic edema, full and stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium, thirst, dry mouth and throat; yellow scanty urine or urinary difficulty with blood; constipation, red tongue with scanty yellow coating, thready and rapid pulse

Zhu Ling Tang

Yin Shui (Yin type edema): chronic onset, prolonged illness, edema begins in the lower body (feet and ankles), induced and/or aggravated by exertion, skin appears dim and haggard, sensations of cold, no thirst, clear scanty urine, loose stools, fatigue. This type of edema tends to effect the elderly or patients with a weak constitution, it can also arrive after prolonged Yang type edema.

Y i n

T y p e

Spleen Yang deficiency

insidious facial edema, dim and yellow skin color, cold limbs, swollen sensation in the face, fatigue, poor appetite, abdominal distention, loose stools, pale tongue with teethmarks, deficient pulse

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang + Fu Zi, Gan Jiang

Qi and blood deficiency

insidious onset of edema, mostly on the face and extremities; pale face and lips, dizziness and palpitations, shortness of breath, fatigue, poor appetite; pale tongue, deficient and thready pulse

Gui Pi Tang

Kidney deficiency


insidious onset of edema, especially evident below
the lumbar region, pitting edema, sensation of heaviness, scanty urination, aversion to cold, cold limbs, palpitations, pale tongue; deep, slow pulse

abdominal pain and diarrhea

tinnitus, dizziness, low back pain, impotence, spermatorrhea

Zhen Wu Tang


Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan