Empty-Cold

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 虚寒

Pinyin name: Xū hán

Associated TCM concepts: Deficiency / Empty Cold pattern

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Anemia Nasitis Sweating Dizziness No period and seventeen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale tongue with thin white coating

Full-Cold is mainly caused by external Cold Evil invasion or Yin Excess, while Empty-Cold is largely due to Deficient Yang or Qi, which fails to warm the body. Therefore the patients have cold limbs,  feel cold and dislike cold. 

Both pattern has Cold manifestations, but the Empty type is more for chronic cases and more seem among the elderly or these with weak constitution. The Cold constrains and obstructs so that it causes pains. The pain for Full-Cold is sharp and worse on pressure, while the Empty type pain is dull and prefers massage. 

The most common precursor of Empty-Cold is Spleen Yang and/or Kidney Yang Deficiency. In this case, the Spleen fails to transform digested foods and drinks properly, hence the loose stools and frequent urination. 

There are often Qi and Blood Deficiency accompanying, thus the symptoms of listlessness, weak voice, pale face and lips, weak limbs, dizziness, poor appetite and breathlessness. 

Diagnosing Empty-Cold

'Deficient' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Deficiency / Empty 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 Empty-Cold will tend to exhibit deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Empty-Cold might experience symptoms like weak limbs, shortness of breath, aversion to cold and palpitations (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Empty-Cold

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Middle Burner (Spleen and Stomach). Tonifies Qi. Relieves spasmodic pain.

Formula summary

Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) and Maltose (Yi Tang) as principal ingredients. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold.

Read more about Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang

Da Jian Zhong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Middle Burner Deficiency. Directs rebellious Qi downward. Relieve pain.

Formula summary

Da Jian Zhong Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Sichuan Pepper (Hua Jiao) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold.

Read more about Da Jian Zhong Tang