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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Treatments for Insomnia

Updated on December 24, 2011
Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner
Photo courtesy of Andrew Turner

This is my third hub on the subject of insomnia and the use of alternative methods of treatment to tackle the problem. As you will see from the title this hub is going to about using Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to treat the problem and whilst I have a reasonable knowledge of both herbal and home remedies I have to admit that before carrying out the research for this hub I knew very little about TCM other than that it has something to do with yin and yang.

I have discovered that TCM has a totally different approach to Western medicine. This means that a Western doctor would normally treat insomnia by diagnosing an underlying emotional problem such as stress, anxiety or depression and would then prescribe anti-depressants and sleeping tablets whilst in TCM the insomnia would be thought of as a branch of a disease and they would be looking to establish where the root of the disease was. The root of a disease is an imbalance in one of the major organ systems of the Heart, Lung, liver Kidneys and Spleen or one of the major substances of Yin, Yang, Chi, Jing and Shen.

A TCM treatment for Insomnia

Insomnia is usually diagnosed as being caused by a wandering spirit arising from an imbalance of the heart and liver. Both these organs are believed to host a specific aspect of the spirit and when the organs are out of balance these aspects are not properly contained.

TCM looks to establish a type of insomnia and the commonest types are dream-disturbed sleep, problems getting to sleep, problems staying asleep, waking at a set time each night. TCM will also then look to define this down still further so for example a dream disturbed by frequent nightmares are usually associated with a disorder of the Gall Bladder meridian whilst dreams in which actions are repeated or relived are generally considered to arise from a Heart/Spleen Dream disturbed sleep. Difficulty falling asleep is usually associated with a problem with the liver or the liver and gallbladder and not being able to stay asleep is usually linked to a heart/spleen deficiency. The waking at a set time is considered to be relevant as TCM believes that Chi circulates through the meridians over a 24 hour period. For example energy peaks in the Liver meridian at 3:00am so if you were waking at this time every night the problem would be diagnosed as a liver problem.

In TCM diagnosis is also made by looking for characteristic symptoms of a particular condition. A Liver Fire pattern causes people to display heat signs such as a red face, dark yellow urine and dry stools and they would anger easily. A Heart/Spleen imbalance causes people to be forgetful, to find it difficult to concentrate and have a tendency to feel tired and worry about things.

In looking to restore the body’s balance TCM will use both herbal treatments and acupuncture. Suan Zao Ren is one of the most popular herbal medicines and it comes from the kernel of a small sweet and sour red date which grows in the mountains in north China. This herb helps regulate Liver Chi and to reduce stress and improves Heart Shen and Liver Blood.

TCM is a massive subject area and I have only just scratched the surface in this hub. I have a feeling that it may well be a subject which I return to explore in more depth later as it is a fascinating subject.

Sweet Dreams!

Photo courtesy of Oceanaris
Photo courtesy of Oceanaris
Photo courtesy of sellyourseoul
Photo courtesy of sellyourseoul
Photo courtesy of Oceanaris
Photo courtesy of Oceanaris


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    • Amber Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Amber Allen 

      7 years ago

      TCM is a certainly a fascinating topic. Thsnks for the rating up.


    • toknowinfo profile image


      7 years ago

      Traditional Chinese Medicine is very interesting. I learn a lot through my acupuncturist. It has so much wisdom to it, and the more I learn, the more fascinating it is. Thanks for a very informative article. Voted up and useful.

    • profile image

      wei li 

      7 years ago

      I ordered film" Empyreal Doctor"from Amzon, it is a real chinese doctors use chinese medicine to treat the patient. Very good, watch it

    • Amber Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Amber Allen 

      8 years ago

      Hi katie

      TCM is such a fascinating subject. I really must try to expand my knowledge of this strand of alternative medicine and try to put in a few hubs on the subject. There's just never enough time to write hubs on all the subjects that I'd like to.


    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      I sleep very well, and yet I find Chinese Medicine very interesting in many other areas as well. It makes good sense and I hope to read more Chinese Medicine articles from you in the future. You do the justice and deliver great and helpful information.

      Thanks and Peace :)

    • Amber Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Amber Allen 

      8 years ago

      Hi Lovelypaper

      Thanks for popping by. I find that getting out of bed and having a small drink of water and brushing my hair before getting back into bed seems to help me get back to sleep again. I'm not sure why!


    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      I can fall asleep fast but sometimes awaken in the early morning hours and it takes awhile to go back to sleep. Very informative. Thanks.

    • Amber Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Amber Allen 

      8 years ago

      Hi Wren

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment:)


    • wrenfrost56 profile image


      8 years ago from U.K.

      Good information and advice here Amber, another good job. :)


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