Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 寒湿困脾      Pinyin name: Hán Shī Kùn Pí

Pattern nature: Full


Precursor patterns: Spleen Qi Deficiency

Common causes: Exposure to exterior Dampness


Common symptoms: Edema Nausea No thirst Lassitude Tiredness and eight other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

Tongue description: Pale with a sticky white coating


Treatment principle: Resolve Dampness, expel Cold

Common formulas: Ping Wei San


This is a description of the pattern in its acute stage, when the Spleen is invaded by exterior Dampness. The pattern can also become chronic, in which case the tongue would be more Pale and the pulse partly Weak or Soggy.

What causes the characteristic feeling of heaviness is the fact that Dampness obstructs the muscles. It also impairs the the clear Yang from ascending to
the head, hence the feeling of heaviness in the head as well.

The feeling of fullness is caused by Dampness preventing the normal movement of Qi. This also causes the nausea as Dampness prevents Stomach-Qi from descending (Qi becomes Rebellious). 

What causes the sweet taste in the mouth (or sometimes the absence of taste) is because the Spleen opens into the mouth: disruption to its normal behavior will have repercussions in the mouth.

Lastly Dampness is heavy and has a tendency to drop downwards; this is what causes the excessive white vaginal discharge we see in some cases.


Precursor patterns: Cold-Damp invading the Spleen can derive from Spleen Qi Deficiency

Exposure to exterior Dampness: This can be due from the weather or from someone's living conditions (e.g. living in a damp basement flat).

Diagnosing Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi)

Tongue description: Pale with a sticky white coating

Main symptoms: Edema Nausea No thirst Lassitude Tiredness Loose stools Poor appetite Dull-pale complexion White vaginal discharge Sweet taste in the mouth Abdominal and epigastric fullness Feeling of cold in the epigastrium Feeling of heaviness of the head and body

Diagnosis commentary: The key characteristic symptoms here are the feeling of abdominal fullness, the feeling of heaviness and the sticky white tongue coating.

Treating Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

Treatment principle

Resolve Dampness, expel Cold

Herbal formulas used to treat Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

Ping Wei San

Source date: 1051 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Dries Dampness. Improves the Spleen's transportive function. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Formula summary

Ping Wei San is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1051 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that transform Dampness and harmonize Stomach.

Besides Cold-Damp invading the Spleen, Ping Wei San is also used to treat Obstruction Of the Spleen By Dampness with Liver Qi Stagnation or Oedema.

Read more about Ping Wei San

Diet recommendations

Since the key cause for this pattern is exposure to exterior dampness, the single best lifestyle change you can make is to avoid prolonged exposure to dampness.

Consequence patterns

Kidney Yang Deficiency

If left untreated Cold-Damp invading the Spleen can lead to Kidney Yang Deficiency

Liver Qi Stagnation

If left untreated Cold-Damp invading the Spleen can lead to Liver Qi Stagnation