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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 表热

Pinyin name: Biǎo Rè

Associated TCM concepts: Exterior Heat/Fire evil


Common symptoms: Fever Thirst Sweating Headaches Body aches and two other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue description: Redness on tip or sides of the tongue with thin white coating

This pattern is classified as ‘Exterior’ not because it derived from an external pathogenic factor but because its manifestations are located in the ‘Exterior’ of the body such as the skin, muscles and Channels. 

The Defensive Qi reacts to the external Heat Evil and the battle between the two gives rise to 'fever'. The fever here does not necessarily indicate an actual fever, but rather the patients' objective feeling of the heat. The Aversion to cold is the consequence of this fever. 

This pattern is quite similar to Exterior-Cold, but with Heat related manifestations. The main difference is the feeling of thirst and slightly sweating. Dryness often accompanies Heat, hence the symptoms of feeling thirst. There is no Cold Evil constraining the skin pores, therefore the patients sweat slightly.

The Heat also goes up to the Head and causes headache and red tongue. However, the redness is on the tip or on the sides, which indicates the Exterior feature of the pattern. 

Diagnosing Exterior-Heat

The Exterior in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Exterior in Chinese Medicine

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu) or floating (Fu)

Tongue description: Redness on tip or sides of the tongue with thin white coating

Possible symptoms: Fever Thirst Sweating Headaches Body aches Stiff neck Aversion to cold

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 Exterior-Heat will tend to exhibit rapid (Shu) or floating (Fu) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Exterior-Heat might experience symptoms like headaches, aversion to cold, fever and sweating (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Exterior-Heat

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Formula summary

Yin Qiao San is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) and Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1798 AD, it belongs to the category of external formulas for External disorders.

Besides Exterior-Heat, Yin Qiao San is also used to treat Wind-Heat invading the Lungs or Wind-Heat.

Read more about Yin Qiao San

Most important herbs used to treat Exterior-Heat