Nosebleeds are common among many children but are usually not serious in nature. Western medicine often cites dryness, irritation, and minor trauma through acts like nose picking as a root cause. Other causes include conditions like sinusitis and allergic rhinitis.
But in Traditional Chinese Medicine, a deficiency in the function of a major organ can give rise to nosebleeds, says Lim Lay Beng, a TCM physician at YS Healthcare. She elaborates:
-The lungs These control the respiratory system and are linked to the nose. “When the lungs are weak ― possibly due to immature development in premature babies, or chronic lung disease ― external factors such as the wind, heat and dryness can attack them,” says Lim. This triggers “bright red nosebleeds or nasal mucus with bright red blood”, as well as a burning sensation in the nasal passage, a dry cough and mouth and fever.
-The stomach When the stomach is weak, because of things like over-feeding, excessive spicy food or insufficient sleep, there can be stomach heat. This heat can follow the stomach meridian (the pathway that runs from the bottom of the eye, down the front of the body, down the leg to the tip of the second toe) to the nose and trigger nasal bleeding of a bright or dark red colour. “This can come with dryness in the nasal passages, bad breath, thirst and constipation,” Lim notes.
“When the liver is weak, possibly due to immature development, stress, anger or depression, the liver qi will stagnate and create liver heat and fire.”
-The spleen Regulates blood circulation. When the spleen qi (physiological function) is weak, persistent nosebleeds that are pink in colour can happen. The bleeding can be heavy or light, the sufferer is pale and complains of fatigue, poor appetite and loose stools.
-The liver “When the liver is weak, possibly due to immature development, stress, anger or depression, the liver qi will stagnate and create liver heat and fire,” says Lim. This heat and fire, she explains, can trigger nasal bleeding in a deep red colour. This is accompanied by dizziness, headaches, bloodshot eyes, anxiety, irritability, and a bitter taste in the mouth.
-The kidneys The kidney yin and yang (the two opposing forces in the universe) is the root of yin and yang of the whole body. Lim explains, “Kidney yin moistens and nourishes the whole body, while kidney yang provides warmth and promotes all of the body’s organs and tissues.” So, when the kidney yin is insufficient, it will impact the liver yin and trigger intermittent and mild nosebleeds that are red in colour. It can be accompanied by dizziness, tinnitus (the perception of ringing in the ears), palpitations, hot flushes and night sweat.
How are nosebleeds treated by TCM? We find out next…
Stopping the nosebleed
The first thing that parents should do when their child’s nose is bleeding, is to try to stop it. Seat the child upright and get him to lean forward. “Ask him to breathe through his mouth, and put a cold, wet towel on his forehead and neck,” says Lim.
Lim also advises that the child should blow his nose to clear any clots, then parents should pack it with a cotton or gauze swab. “Squeeze the soft part of the nose for 10 minutes, and apply fresh swabs and pressure for another 10 minutes if the bleeding does not stop,” she says. Lim adds that parents should call the doctor if the bleeding is heavy and frequent and difficult to stop.
Call the doctor if the bleeding is heavy and frequent and difficult to stop.
How TCM can help
If a clinical examination rules out any physical cause of the nosebleeds, TCM can help to strengthen the child’s constitution to reduce its occurrence.
“Chinese medicine, infant tui na and acupuncture can help improve the child’s condition by strengthening their organs and immune system,” Lim says.
The following roots and herbs are commonly used to dispel heat in the body, but Lim cautions parents to consult a physician before allowing the child to consume any herbs:
-To dispel blood heat Rehmannia Root (di huang), Tree Peony Bark (mu dan pi), Lalang Grass Rhizome (bai mao gen), and Chinese Arborvitac Twig and Leaf (ce bai ye).
-To dispel lung heat Mulberry leaf (sang ye), chrysanthemum flower (ju hua), Weeping Forsythia Capsule (lian qiao) and Baical skullcap root (huang qin).
-To dispel stomach heat Gypsum (shi gao) and Common Anemarrhena Rhizome (zhi mu).
-To dispel liver heat and fire Chinese Gentian (long dan) and Cape Jasmine Fruit (zhi zi).
-To increase kidney yin Amur Cork-tree (huang bai), Asiatic Cornelian Cherry Fruit (shan zhu yu), Common Yam Rhizome (shan yao) and Processed Rehmannia Root (shu di huang).
-To strengthen the spleen Medicinal Changium Root (dang shen), Milk Vetch Root (huang qi), Largehead Atractylodes Rhizome (bai zhu), Indian Bread (fu ling), and Chinese Date (da zao).
-To enhance blood circulation Peach Seed (tao ren), Motherwort Herb (yi mu cao), Safflower (hong hua) and Red Peony Root (chi shao).
Lim adds that the patient should “keep a good lifestyle and positive emotions, follow a proper diet, and have sufficient sleep”. She offers additional tips:
*When the weather is dry, humidify the home, or apply lubricating ointment inside the nose of the patient;
*Parents can educate the child to stop picking at his nose.
*Eat easily digested foods such as porridge or soup with eggs, lotus root juice, bean curd and honey dates. Avoid cold, raw, spicy, oily and deep fried food.
*Encourage child to sleep early and get enough rest. Exercise daily to strengthen his immune system, and avoid respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis and rhinitis, or other environmental irritants.
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