Alternating fever and chills according to Chinese Medicine

Alternating fever and chills can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like alternating fever and chills here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here alternating fever and chills is often associated with irritability, dry throat and bitter taste in the mouth in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/lesser-yang-stage”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause alternating fever and chills.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of alternating fever and chills we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat alternating fever and chills.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause alternating fever and chills

In Chinese Medicine alternating fever and chills is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Chai Hu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/lesser-yang-stage

Lesser Yang stage

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian), Fine (Xi)

In addition to alternating fever and chills, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/lesser-yang-stage include irritability, dry throat and bitter taste in the mouth.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/lesser-yang-stage is often treated with Xiao Chai Hu Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Chai Hu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer)".

Read more about Lesser Yang stage here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Body Fluids stagnate in the four limbs instead of flowing in the body and getting released as sweat.

In addition to alternating fever and chills, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-limbs include irritability, generalized body pain and absence of sweating.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-limbs is often treated with Da Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Da Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes sweating".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

Two herbal formulas that might help with alternating fever and chills

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with alternating fever and chills?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lesser-yang-stage' of which alternating fever and chills is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with alternating fever and chills?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-limbs' of which alternating fever and chills is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Acupuncture points used for alternating fever and chills

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat alternating fever and chills

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with alternating fever and chills?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat alternating fever and chills as a symptom, like Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang or Xiao Chai Hu Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with alternating fever and chills?

Because Bupleurum Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat alternating fever and chills as a symptom, like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with alternating fever and chills?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat alternating fever and chills as a symptom, like Xiao Yao San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with alternating fever and chills?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat alternating fever and chills as a symptom, like Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with alternating fever and chills?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat alternating fever and chills as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xiao Yao San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here