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Insomnia Treated by Chinese Prescriptions

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Insomnia - deficiencies of the heart and spleen

Sleep pattern: dream-disturbed sleep, easily awakened from sleep, difficulty going back to sleep or early awakening.

Accompanying signs: absent-mindedness, palpitations, dizziness, blurred vision, low spirits, fatigue, loss of appetite and pale complexion; the tongue is pale; the pulse is thready and weak.

Analysis: this kind of insomnia is often seen in the elderly, those suffering from anemia and during recovery of major diseases. People with this type of difficulty usually fall asleep without difficulty but have many dreams and are easily awakened. The heart governs the blood circulation and stores the shen (spirit) within it. The spleen acts as the source of the nutrient production inside the body. When the body has overly used the nutrients or under utilized the nutrient supply, the heart can't hold the spirit properly, which becomes wandering and appears absent-mindedness, forgetfulness, palpitations and restless sleep. Furthermore, disturbance of qi flowing along the yin meridians often cause individuals to awaken frequently at night. And because of insufficient blood and qi to flow, dizziness, blurred vision, paleness, fatigue and low spirits appear. Spleen weakness leads to a loss of appetite and a bland taste in the mouth.

Therapeutic principle: to invigorate the spleen and nourish the heart, promote blood and qi production.

Sample prescription: Modified Restore the Spleen Decoction (gui pi tang)

ren shen ginseng Radix Ginseng
bai shu largehead atractylodes root Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae
huang qi astragalus Radix Astragali
dang gui angelica root Radix Angelicae Sinensis
long yan rou longan aril Arillus Longan
fu shen poria processed by cinnabar Poria preparated with cinnabar
suan zao ren sour jujube seed Semen Ziziphi Spinosae
yuan zhi Chinese senega Radix Polygalae
mu xiang costus root Radix Aucklandiae
ye jiao teng tuber fleeceflower stem Caulis Polygoni Multiflori
gan cao liquorice root Radix Glycyrrhizae

In the prescription, the ginseng, atractylodes root, astragalus, liquorice root focus on replenishing qi and invigorating the spleen; the angelica root nourishes yin and enriches the blood; the poria, jujube seed, longan aril and senega assist in nourishing the heart and spleen and calms the spirit; the costus root protects the transformation and transportation functions in the spleen, so that the organ will not be overloaded. The whole combination enriches the heart blood to calm the spirit and invigorates the spleen to ensure an adequate nutrient supply.

In case of severe palpitations and breath shortness, the following is added to nourish the heart blood:

shu di processed rhemannia rhizome Rhizoma Rehmanniae Praeparatae
bai shao white peony root Radix Paeoniae Alba
e jiao donkey-hide gelatin Colla Corii Asini

In case of heavily dream-disturbed sleep, the following is added to further calm the spirit:

wu wei zi schisandra Fructus Schisandrae
bai zi ren Chinese arborvitae kernel Semen platycladi
zhen zhu mu nacre Concha Margaritifera

In case of gastric discomfort, abdominal distention, diarrhea, slippery and greasy tongue coating, add the following to enhance spleen functioning and resolve dampness:

fu ling poria Poria
ban xia pinellia tuber Rhizoma Pinelliae
chen pi dried tangerine peel Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae

For those who are mentally exhausted or have a poor work-rest balance, the above approaches are also applicable.

Insomnia prescription