Cold in the Uterus

Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 宫寒

Pinyin name: Gōng Hán

Associated TCM concepts: Cold evil Yang Deficiency Kidney Yang Deficiency

Related conditions: Menstrual cramps Late menstruation

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Diarrhea Sore back No period Sore legs Pale face and fifteen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

'Cold in the Uterus' is one the most common TCM pattern for women. It can be responsible for many gynecological diseases such as menstrual cramps, irregular periods, infertility, etc. Coldness can also lead to other TCM patterns such as Blood and Qi Stagnation

There are two types of Cold patterns: Full Cold or Empty Cold

Full cold refers to actual Cold Evil invading the Uterus. It often happen to women who consume excessive amount of cold food (e.g. ice cream, raw food, ice-cold drinks), live in cold environments or do sports in winter or during menstruation. Dampness Stagnation often come along with this Full Cold pattern. The treatment principle is to use herbs that expel the Cold as well as the Dampness and warm the Uterus. Formulas like Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang are recommended.

Empty Cold is the result of Yang Deficiency, especially the Spleen and Kidney Yang. With Yang Deficiency in these two Organs, body water metabolism is impaired and thus Coldness in the Body Fluids can not be transferred and it accumulates. Also, when Yang is lacking, it can not warm the necessary Organs. Therefore, only herbs that expel coldness is not enough. The treatment should be more focused on supporting Yang and boosting QiWen Qi Hua Shi Tang  is recommended as a herbal formula in this case. It is for long-term retention of Cold and Dampness in the Uterus which leads to Qi and Yang Deficiency and painful periods.

Diagnosing Cold in the Uterus

The Uterus is a so-called "Extraordinary" Organ. Learn more about the Uterus 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 in the Uterus will tend to exhibit deep (Chen) or soggy (Ru) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Cold in the Uterus might experience symptoms like infertility, scanty periods, painful period and late period (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Cold in the Uterus

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Formula summary

Si Wu Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) and White Peony Roots (Bai Shao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 846 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Besides Cold in the Uterus, Si Wu Tang is also used to treat Blood Deficiency or Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Si Wu Tang

Wen Jing Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Uterus and vessels. Nourishes Blood. Dispels Cold. Dispels Blood Stagnation.

Formula summary

Wen Jing Tang is a 12-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) and Evodia Fruits (Wu Zhu Yu) as principal ingredients. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Cold in the Uterus, Wen Jing Tang is also used to treat Qi and Blood Stagnation or Full Cold in the Directing and Penetraing Vessels.

Read more about Wen Jing Tang

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

Formula summary

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1830 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that invigorate Blood and dispel Blood Stagnation.

Besides Cold in the Uterus, Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang is also used to treat Blood Stagnation or Qi and Blood Stagnation.

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang

Source date: 1827 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Supports Kidney Yang. Supplies Spleen Qi. Expels Cold and Dampness from the Uterus.

Formula summary

Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1827 AD, it belongs to the categories of formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold and formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Read more about Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang

Da Ying Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Expels Cold.

Formula summary

Da Ying Jian is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Blood.

Read more about Da Ying Jian

Diet recommendations

Eat warm, easy-digestible and nourishing foods and cut out tropical fruits and too much raw food. Avoid cold drinks and foods, especially those directly from the fridge. 

Special highlight: the link between menstrual cramps and Cold in the Uterus

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the key herb for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for menstrual cramps caused by Cold in the Uterus

'Cold in the Uterus' is one the most common TCM patterns for women who suffer from dysmenorrhea. It can causes intense pain but can be largely relieved with the application of heat. Blood Stagnation often comes along as a consequence of this pattern because Cold obstructs the Uterus and thus impairs the flow of Blood.

If Cold in the Uterus is the main cause behind menstrual cramps, the menstrual blood is often red and the clots are typically dark and rather small or stringy. However, if Blood...Read more about menstrual cramps

Special highlight: the link between late menstruation and Cold in the Uterus

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the key herb for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for late menstruation caused by Cold in the Uterus

Blood can congeal due to Cold invasion. Then new Blood can not be created and the Directing (Ren Mai 任脉) and Penetrating (Chong Mai 冲脉) Vessels are empty. They fail to fill the Uterus and thus the periods consistently come after the expected time. Other typical symptoms are a feeling of cold, scanty periods with dark blood and clots and abdominal pain which can be relieved with Heat. There are two types of Cold in the Uterus pattern that can cause delayed menstruation: Full or Empty. 

For the...Read more about late menstruation