Empty-Cold

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 虚寒      Pinyin name: Xū hán

Pattern nature: Empty

Causes

Precursor patterns: Spleen Yang Deficiency

Common causes: 1. Excessive physical work, 2. Lack of hot foods, 3. Excessive sexual activity, 4. Internal cold

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Sweating Pale face No thirst Cold limbs Listlessness and four other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Pale tongue with thin white coating

Treatment

Treatment principle: Clear Empty-Cold, supply Yang, tonify the Spleen and Kidney.

Common formulas: Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang Da Jian Zhong Tang

Pathology

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. 

Causes

Precursor patterns: Empty-Cold can derive from Spleen Yang Deficiency

Excessive physical work : Excessive physical work consumes Yang and causes Empty Cold.

Lack of hot foods : Inadequate consumption of hot foods is also a reason for Yang Deficiency and thus the Empty-Cold.

Excessive sexual activity : Excessive sexual activity consumes Kidney Yang, which is the original of all body Yang, hence the Empty-Cold.

Internal cold : If the internal Cold of an Organ lasts over a long period of time, it can create Empty-Cold as a result.

Diagnosing Empty-Cold

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), slow (Chi) or weak (Ruo)

Tongue description: Pale tongue with thin white coating

Main symptoms: Sweating Pale face No thirst Cold limbs Listlessness Loose stools Feeling of cold Clear urination Frequent urination

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the feeling of mild, cold limbs and Weak-Slow-Deep Pulse.

Treating Empty-Cold

Treatment principle

Clear Empty-Cold, supply Yang, tonify the Spleen and Kidney. 

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. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm the middle and dispel Cold.

Besides Empty-Cold, Huang Qi Jian Zhong Tang is also used to treat Stomach Deficient and 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. 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