There are many causes for the manifestation of blood stagnation and blood stasis. By employing blood invigorating strategy to address this condition does not always yield satisfactory results.
Wind dispelling herbs can ascend, disperse, move, outthrust, and penetrate . It can target the etiology and pathogenesis of blood stagnation. From different perspectives, wind herbs can disperse pathogen, free and unblock qi dynamic, acrid, warm can free the yang, parch dampness and resolve phlegm, free network vessels and open orifice; invigorate blood and transform blood stasis, and uplift yang qi. This reflects that wind dispelling herbs play a role when combined with blood invigorating herbs. Thus, the enhancing effect of wind herbs when combined with blood invigorating and dispersing herbs in the treatment of blood stagnation and blood stasis is very significant.
Function of wind herbs :
It can release exterior, eliminate dampness, and extinguish wind as it can vent and disperse pathogenic wind, disperse and free obstructions of network vessels and channels; dispel wind and eliminate dampness and extinguish wind. “ Shen Nong Ben Cao” was the first book that recorded the blood invigorating aspect of wind herbs. Wang Shu Fen said: “ To treat blood, one must treat the wind first, once the wind is moving, the blood can circulate without any impediment. “ (Ref: To Treat Blood , one must treat wind first. By Wang Shu Fen Zhong Yi Za Zhi 1997.38 (1), pp9-11)
1. Etiology and pathogenesis of Blood Stagnation and stasis
An attack by external pathogens particularly wind, cold and heat can result in blood stagnation. [Suwen- Wu Zang Sheng Cheng Pian] : states “ blood congelation in the skin can result in blockage syndrome (Bi Zheng); blood congelation in the vessels can cause choppy pulse; blood congelation in the limbs is known as limb reversal (or jue). “ Thus, external pathogens of the six excess ie wind pathogen can cause the qi and blood to be constrained and blocked; cold pathogen can congeal the blood, while heat pathogen can exhaust the blood and renders it more viscous. All of which can cause blood stagnation and stasis.
2. Improper diet, emotion and internal injury
Overindulgence of rich and fatty food can generate turbid phlegm; emotional stress can cause constrained liver qi leading to impaired qi dynamic which could result in blood stagnation. The ensuing accumulation of turbid phlegm and blood stasis can obstruct qi dynamic and affect the zang fu organs’ normal qi flow.
3. Deficiency of zheng qi
[Lingshu. Tian Nian Pian] states: “ Qi and blood deficiency can cause blood flow in the vessels. “ Zhang Jin Yue in his book “ Jin Yue Quan Shu “ states: “ Qi and blood can be equated to the source of a river , it can only free flow when it is in abundance; deficiency of this source will lead to stagnation. “ Yang qi deficiency will affect the flow of qi, while yin deficiency will affect the flow of blood. Thus, it is perceived that deficient yang qi will lose its ability to move the blood; yin blood deficiency can lead to sluggish flow of blood. Hence yin,yang, qi or blood deficiency can all result in blood stagnation and stasis.
In addition, chronic illness, old age, post-partum condition can all lead to blood stagnation.
The mechanism of blood invigorating function of wind herbs
1. Disperse pathogen – wind herbs are light in texture and has a lifting function, it also can regulate the skin pores whereby dispelling the pathogen. Thus dispelling the pathogen by way of releasing exterior. Acrid, warm herbs like Ma Huang, Gui Zhi, Xi Xin and acrid, cool herbs like Chai Hu, Bo He and Chen Tui.
2. Can unblock qi dynamic and restore normal qi flow. Wind herbs have affiliation with the liver channel and assist in the function of liver and gallbladder. It can free up knotted constraint, vent zang fu organs and channels qi constraint, regulate blood flow and disperse stasis. Herbs are Chai Hu, Qiang Huo, Bo He and Chuan Xiong.
3. Acrid herbs can free the yang qi – Acrid can disperse, warm can diffuse and unblock. It can stimulate the body’s yang qi to facilitate qi transformation. This in turn will disperse the stasis. Herbs are Gui Zhi, Xi Xin, Qiang Huo, Ge Gen, Fang Feng, Chen Tui and Bo He.
4. Parch dampness and transform phlegm
Wind herbs can parch dampness, it can transform phlegm thereby disperse qi constraint and obstruction.
5. Wind herbs can unblock network vessels and extinguish endogenous wind, particularly insects like Wu Gong, Chuan Xie, Di Long, Jiang Chen, Yin Yang Huo, etc.
6. Wind herbs can invigorate blood and transform blood stasis – By venting and restoring normal qi dynamic, it can indirectly stimulate blood flow. Herbs are Bai Zhi, Gui Zhi, Gao Ben, Qiang Huo, Ge Gen, and Bai Ji Li.
In summary, wind herbs can cause dilatation of the coronary arteries, dilate peripheral vessels, reduce blood pressure, reduce blood lipid and improve micro-circulation. It is anti-inflammtory, anti-coagulate and can prevent the formation of thrombi.