Insomnia – yang qiao deficiency (YTS)

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Original Case by: Ye Tian-Shi (叶天士)

[Patient] Gu (age 44) had already greying whiskers and hair on the temples. His facial complexion though was bright. He was emotionally worried and irritable. [There was] yang ascending and agitating [the spirit] with phlegm and thin mucus also ascending and overflowing.  The divine pivot says, when yang qi descends, joins and enter the yin, then the yang qiao vessel is full and one is able to sleep. [At this moment though] qi was disseminating and discharging outward and yang was not entering yin. He would drink alcohol in hopes of muddling his consciousness enough so he could sleep. This was not a good method for managing this disease. In middle age and afterwards, men’s lower base is the first to become depleted. [The treatment] was to use Eight-Ingredient Pill (ba wei wan) in the morning and Pinellia and Millet Decoction (ban xia shu mi tang) in the evening. (yang qiao vessel deficiency).

Translated by: Jason Blalack

Original Chinese: 顾(四四) 须鬓已苍。面色光亮。操心烦劳。阳上升动。痰饮亦得上溢。灵枢云。阳气下交入阴。阳跷脉满。令人得寐。今气越外泄。阳不入阴。勉饮酒醴。欲其神昏假寐。非调病之法程。凡中年已后。男子下元先损。早上宜用八味丸。晚时用半夏秫米汤。(阳跷脉虚)

Source: Case from the Insomnia chapter of Case Records as a Guide to Clinical Practice (临证指南医案lin zheng zhi nan yi an).

Commentary: This case shows one approach to dealing with complex patterns of excess and deficiency, giving separate formulas at different times of day. I often give a daytime and nighttime formula for insomnia. Ye uses his typical style of focusing on the pathodynamics and uses little in the way symptomatic “sleep” herbs. Brilliant! Eight-Ingredient Pill (ba wei wan) is another name for Kidney Qi Pill (shen qi wan).Pinellia and Millet Decoction (ban xia shu mi tang) is from the Divine Pivot and contains Pinelliae Rhizoma preparatum (zhi ban xia) and  Setariae Fructus (shu mi).

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