Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 寒湿困脾

Pinyin name: Hán Shī Kùn Pí

Associated TCM concepts: Cold evil Dampness Spleen


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

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.

Diagnosing Cold-Damp invading the Spleen

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Cold-Damp invading the Spleen will tend to exhibit slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Cold-Damp invading the Spleen might experience symptoms like poor appetite, feeling of cold in the epigastrium, feeling of heaviness of the head and body and sweet taste in the mouth (full list here above).

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 with Black Atractylodes Rhizomes (Cang Zhu) as a principal ingredient. 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.

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.

Most important herbs used to treat Cold-Damp invading the Spleen