Taking Chinese Herbs for ITP

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Feature image from HERBSLIST


The following is an excerpt from the article TREATMENT OF ITP WITH CHINESE MEDICINE by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, May 2000.  The article was posted onto the PDSA website.  Since then it has been shared around on social media and referenced a great deal in any discussion on alternative treatments for ITP.  The article is very long but certainly worth a read.  It is a shame that there are not more articles and documents like this one.

‘Medical opinion appears to be leaning towards finding an alternative to splenectomy. . . .’

 ‘ …According to the Chinese medical reports, administration of decoctions made with the above-mentioned herbs in appropriate combinations will raise the platelet levels in patients with persistent ITP, often to an acceptable level, though only rarely will they return to the normal range…’ 

‘…For persisting ITP, which is a greater concern because of the difficulty of finding suitable modern medical therapy, Chinese herbal treatment will usually be administered for several weeks or months. . . . Herbal therapy is reported to be of some benefit to nearly all patients, though the degree of improvement varies markedly and the relapse rate (within a year, if monitored that long) is often high…’  Read the FULL TEXT here.

Most Commonly Prescribed Herbs for the Treatment of ITP

  • Blood Heat

The general theory of treating primary ITP, at least as it occurs in children and young adults, is that there is a heat syndrome causing the blood to escape the vessels.  Therefore, clearing heat is the primary concern.  A Clearing Heat tea may include the following herbs – rehmannia, raw – Gardenia – Moutan – red peony – salvia – lithospermum – isatis leaf.

  •  Qi Deficiency

When there is a deficiency of either the Yin or the Yan energy in the body then it is classified as a Qi Deficiency.  Most likely itp will create Yin deficiency syndrome, which may arise from nutritional deficits, prior diseases, or inherent factors.  In the case of the yin deficiency syndrome, nourishing Yin Tonification is deemed the most important aspect of therapy.  A Qi (Yin) Tonifying tea may include the following herbs – Astragalus – Licorice – Codonopsis – Hoelen – Atractylodes – Jujube – Dioscorea

Most Commonly Prescribed Herbs for the Symptoms and side effects of ITP

  • Hemostatic

Since bleeding is the symptom, treatment with Hemostatic herbs, especially those which are also cooling, is standard procedure.  Hemostatic tea may include the following herbs – Agrimony – Imperata – Eclipta – rubia – san-chi – biota tops – sanguisorba.

  • Liver Nourishing

The Liver Nourishing herbs are generally given to patients who have been taking medications to treat ITP for a long period. These patients are now battling the damage of long term medication on the liver, as well as their ITP.  A Liver Nourishing tea may include the following herbs – tang kuei – gelatin – tortoise shell – ho-shou-wu – lyceum – millettia – cuscuta.

itp chinese medicine, herbs, natural therapy
My Chinese herbal tea

My First Experience with Chinese Herbs

So it took 1.25 litres of Coles brand soda water, icy cold with a squeeze of lemon and half a block of Chocolate Lindt caramel chocolate to get these horrific herbs down my delicate little throat. I’m very sure that is not the way Emperor Qin Shi Huang took his herbs.  I was not at all prepared for the most obscure and revolting taste that was about to assail my throat.

For those coming to it for the first time, it can be very different to a ‘doctors’ appointment.  There is not a lot of talking, and the practitioner generally does not need to hear your entire medical history verbatim.  He looked at my tongue, touched my hands, checked my pulse, on both wrists and gave me a small piece of chocolate as he wrote out the script.  He asked me if I enjoyed the cold, or was highly tolerant of the cold and I said yes.

The biggest barrier that I am many others have with taking Chinese Medicine is the cost.  While appointments may be covered by private health insurance, the cost of the herbs themselves are rarely reimbursed. Most of the products used in Chinese Herbal tea come from overseas and have import costs added on.

If anyone has any details about cheaper more accessible Chinese herbs, please add to the comments below.

For the DETAILS ON THE HERBALIST I saw in Sydney and other Chinese Herbalist recommendations, follow this LINK.

by Meg

Meghan Brewster is a writer and blogger. She is an ITP patient and launched ITP&Me in 2011. She is a coffee lover and a try hard dancer. @meghan_brewster

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