Home > Examination and Diagnosis > Internal Medicine > Itchiness > Herbal Selections for Itchy Conditions
Chinese Herbal Selections for Itchy Conditions

According to traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), itching can be associated with pathogenic irritations by wind, dampness, heat or blood stasis, that result in disharmony of the blood and qi (vital energy) in the superficial body. Itchy symptom can also be due to blood deficiency that leads to under nourishment of the skin. The disharmony patterns of itchy skin are different from person to person, TCM physicians will use a wild variety of herbs to stop itching, including herbs for dispelling wind, cooling blood, clearing heat, regulating qi, activating blood, calming spirit, resolving stasis and soothing liver as well. The anti-itch remedies are prescribed according to individual conditions, for either oral intakes or external applications.

Dahurian angelica root Dictamnus root bark Peony root bark
Dahurian angelica root Dictamnus root bark Peony root bark

Below are general references to herbal selections for some itchy conditions:

Itchy conditions

TCM treatment principles

Sample herbs

Acute itchy rashes (red rash indicates heat; pale rash indicates cold)
Disperse wind to stop itching Chrysanthemum, ledebouriella root, schizonepeta herb, Siberian cocklibur fruit
Cold wind type add: Ephedra, cassia twig, Dahurian angelica root
Heat wind type add: Peony root-bark, great burdock fruit, pepper mint
Intense itchiness with bright-red rashes, hot and prickly sensations
Clear heat to stop itching Unprocessed gypsum, anemarrhena rhizome, figwort root, baical skullcap root, golden thread rhizome, buffalo horn, Chinese gentian root, weeping forsythia capsule
Toxic heat type add: Gardenia fruit, wild chrysanthemum, honeysuckle flower
Heat-wind type add: Sweet wormwood herb, cicada slough, mulberry leaf
Winter itchiness, or elderly and immune weakened individuals that appear dry and scaly skin
Boost internal lubrication to stop itching Unprocessed fleeceflower root, Chinese yam, flat-stem milkvetch seed, rehmannia root, lily bulb, gambir vine stem, longan aril, black sesame, white peony root, tuber fleeceflower stem, wolfberry root-bark
Menopause Mimosa tree bark, donkey-hide gelatin
Localized itchiness that cause skin peeling, cracking, blisters, or softening in the lower legs, genitals or finger webs
Regulate body fluids to stop itching Agastache, fortune eupatorium herb, atractylodes rhizome, coix seed, belvedere fruit
Heat type add: Capillary wormwood herb, talc, dictamnus root bark
Cold type add: Betel nut, erythrina bark, sevenlobed yam rhizome
Herbs to arrest secretions and stop itching Smithsonite (calcined), black catechu, spiral shell powder, processed alum, gypsum (calcined), ophicalcite
Drug side effects
Detoxify to stop itching Mung bean, unprocessed liquorice root, dyers woad leaf, dandelion, glabrous greenbrier rhizome, honeysuckle flower, Tokyo violet herb, arnebia root, isatis root
Food allergies
Promote digestion to stop itching Dandelion, picrorhize root, medicated leaven, costus root, combined spicebush root, millet sprouts, barley sprouts, unprocessed Chinese rhubarb
Fishes or seafood Perilla leaf, dried tangerine peel
Meats Hawthorn fruit, chicken's gizzard-skin
Alcohol allergic
Promote the alcohol expelling process to stop itching
Induce perspiration Cardamom, finger citron fruit, villous amomum fruit, kudzu flower, clove, nutmeg, hyacinth bean, lesser galangal rhizome, Tsaoko amomum fruit, mulberry fruit, hawthorn fruit
Promote urination Oriental water-plantain rhizome, polyporus, poria
Persistent itching with darkened rashes and nodules on the skin
Resolve blood stasis to stop itching
Heat type Dried rehmannia root, cattail pollen, peony root-bark, red peony root, peach kernel, Indian madder root, turmeric root-tuber
Damp type European verbena, Taiwan sweetgum
Cold type Notoginseng, angelica root, frankincense, hirsute shiny bugleweed herb, Sichuan lovage rhizome, Chinese honeylocust spine, sappan wood
Persistent itching with a creepy feeling and dryness; aggravated at night or triggered by seasonal changes
Rectify internal deficiencies
Yin deficient type Dendrobium, asparagus root, dwarf lily-turf tuber, fourleaf ladybell root, egg york, dried rehmannia root
Yang deficient type Cassia bark, psoralea, cornus fruit, epimedium, common curculigo rhizome
Qi deficient type Astragalus root, Chinese yam, largehead atractylodes rhizome, pilose asiabell root
Blood deficient type Processed rhemannia rhizome, donkey-hide gelatin, mulberry fruit, fleeceflower root
Parasitic or fungal infections with skin itching, peeling, discharges and cracks
External remedies are mainly applied for symptom relief and to arrest further development Common cnidium fruit, realgar, shrubalthea bark, veratrum root, calomel, processed alum, sulfur, chaulmoogratree seed, aloe, centipede

Fleeceflower root Gambir vine stem Donkey-hide gelatin
Fleeceflower root Gambir vine stem Donkey-hide gelatin

Generally, many physicians like to use plant parts like cortex, thorns or barbs as the main ingredients in the anti-itch prescriptions.

Sometimes, TCM physicians may select insects or animal products such as centipede, scorpion, silkworm, beehive, snack slough, earthworm and leech to treat stubborn itchy cases. It is said that these ingredients are very effective to detoxify, dig and unblock meridian collaterals, and resolve blood stasis which can play a significant role for itchy relief. It should be noted that these ingredients are used under strict monitoring and in limited does only.

Scorpion Silkworm Centipede
Scorpion Silkworm Centipede