Greater Yang Attack of Cold

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 太阳 伤寒

Pinyin name: Tài Yáng Shāng Hán

Associated TCM concepts: The six stages theory Cold evil

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Sneezing Stiff neck Runny nose Slight fever Breathlessness and three other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

This is one of the four patterns of the Greater Yang stage, the first stage of the Six Stages theory.

As opposed to Attack of Wind, another pattern of the Greater Yang stage, there is an emphasis on Cold rather than Wind. As such when a key symptom of Attack of Wind is the sweating, in this pattern there is no sweating. This is because Cold contracts the pores, which prevents sweating.

The slight fever is not necessarily an actual fever but more the hot feeling of the patient’s skin on palpation, what the Chinese call "heat emission" of the skin. 

The aversion to cold is due to the obstruction of the space between the skin and muscles by Wind: this impairs the circulation of Defensive Qi which cannot fulfill its function of warming the muscles.

The occipital headache and stiff neck are caused by the obstruction of Qi in the Greater Yang channels of Small Intestine and Gallbladder. These channels pass through the neck and head, hence the symptoms.

The runny nose as well as breathlessness is because of Rebellious Qi of the Lungs.

Diagnosing Greater Yang Attack of Cold

'Cold' as a body pattern in Chinese Medicine is one of the so-called "Eight Principles". Learn more about Cold pattern in Chinese Medicine

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin) or floating (Fu)

Possible symptoms: Sneezing Stiff neck Runny nose Slight fever Breathlessness Aversion to cold Occipital headaches Absence of sweating

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 Greater Yang Attack of Cold will tend to exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Greater Yang Attack of Cold might experience symptoms like occipital headaches, aversion to cold, slight fever and absence of sweating (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Greater Yang Attack of Cold

Ma Huang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Releases exterior cold. Treats wheezing.

Formula summary

Ma Huang Tang is a 4-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Ephedra (Ma Huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Wind-Cold.

Besides Greater Yang Attack of Cold, Ma Huang Tang is also used to treat Wind-Cold invading the Lungs or Exterior-Cold.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang

Most important herbs used to treat Greater Yang Attack of Cold