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UTI and traditional Chinese medicine

by Andrew Gaeddert

Medical Herbalism 3(4):7

The key in Chinese medicine is diagnosing and prescribing a formula on the basis of that diagnosis even if the practitioner uses forms of ready-made Chinese herbal formulas.

A classic Chinese formula for UTI is Ba Zheng San, the “Eight-Herb Powder for Rectification” (per Bensky and Barolet), sometimes sold in the U.S. as “Dianthus Formula.” This formula is appropriate in Heat conditions. [Ed. Note: characterized by yellow coat on the tongue, fast pulse, and dark urine.] It is contraindicated (unless modified) in chronic conditions accompanied by deficiency [Ed. Note: weak pulse is the key symptom], and during pregnancy. Another formula, often misprescribed for UTI by U.S. practitioners is Long Dan Zie Gan Tang, sold in the U.S. as Gentiana formula or Quell fire. This should only be used for UTI in the presence of Liver Fire, and is not appropriate in most chronic cases of UTI.

Many women in their forties have chronic vaginitis or urinary tract infection, due to weakness. Weakness of the constitution and constitutional damage due to long-term antibiotic use are also common in the U.S. These need a milder formula than the traditional Chinese formulas, one that gently clears Heat, drains Damp, circulates the Blood, and tonifies the constitution. Acupuncturist Robert Flaws has devised a formula for this type of patient called Lotus Seed Clearing formula. It contains: lotus seed, ophiogon, poria, white genseng, plantago, scute, smilax, abutilon, astragalus, lycium bark, moutain, red peony and licorice. Lotus Seed Clearing Formula is available through Health Concerns or the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Editor’s Note: Andrew Gaeddert is president of Health Concerns, and a student of Chinese herbal medicine. He practices in Alameda, California, and may be reached at 415-521-7401. We do not customarily allow apparent product endorsements in Medical Herbalism, but make an exception here because Andrew’s article brings up relevant clinical questions. We welcome correspondence on this subject.
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    406