Aversion to cold according to Chinese Medicine

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Aversion to cold 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 aversion to cold 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 aversion to cold is often associated with shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating in the pattern “Lung Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause aversion to cold.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of aversion to cold we’ve identified five 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 aversion to cold.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause aversion to cold

In Chinese Medicine aversion to cold is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Lung Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue color: Pale

The Lungs govern Qi and respiration. In case of Lung Qi Deficiency, Qi's protecting, dispersing and descending function can not be performed properly.

In addition to aversion to cold, other symptoms associated with Lung Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating.

Lung Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Lung Qi Deficiency here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to aversion to cold, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include loose stools, cold extremities and pale face.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a formula used for Yang Deficiency

Yang Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

Yang Deficiency is an Empty-Cold condition characterized by Coldness and Deficiency. It can cause a general hypoactivity of Organ functions and Oedema. Qi and Blood is more likely to stagnate. Yang Deficiency is mostly related to Spleen Yang, Kidney Yang, Heart Yang or Lung Qi. It is a result of lack of activity or exercise, excessive sex, over-exposure to cold environments and bad diet.

In addition to aversion to cold, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency include loose stools, pale face and low energy.

Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Yang Deficiency here

Milkvetch Roots (Huang Qi) is the king ingredient for Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency Fever

Qi Deficiency Fever

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

In addition to aversion to cold, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency Fever include spontaneous sweating, intermittent fever that worsens upon exertion and thirst for warm drinks.

Qi Deficiency Fever is often treated with Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner)".

Read more about Qi Deficiency Fever here

Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) is the king ingredient for Fu Zi Tang, a formula used for Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Minute (Wei), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

In addition to aversion to cold, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp include cold extremities, generalized body pain and aching bones and joints.

Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp is often treated with Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Fu Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Meridians".

Read more about Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp here

Five herbal formulas that might help with aversion to cold

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with aversion to cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Qi Deficiency' of which aversion to cold is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and spontaneous sweating.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Er Xian Tang

Source date: 1950 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys. Clears Empty Heat. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels.

Why might Er Xian Tang help with aversion to cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which aversion to cold is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney Yang Deficiency include loose stools, cold extremities and pale face.

Read more about Er Xian Tang here

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang

Source date: 1247

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi of the Spleen and Stomach (Middle Burner). Raises the Yang. Detoxifies. Lifts what has sunken.

Why might Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang help with aversion to cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency Fever' of which aversion to cold is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Qi Deficiency Fever include spontaneous sweating, intermittent fever that worsens upon exertion and thirst for warm drinks.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Meridians. Assists the Yang. Dispels Cold. Transforms Dampness.

Why might Fu Zi Tang help with aversion to cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency with Cold-Damp' of which aversion to cold is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Deficiency With Cold-Damp include cold extremities, generalized body pain and aching bones and joints.

Read more about Fu Zi Tang here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with aversion to cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency' of which aversion to cold is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Deficiency include loose stools, pale face and low energy.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat aversion to cold

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with aversion to cold?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat aversion to cold as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Ba Zhen Tang for instance.

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

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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with aversion to cold?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat aversion to cold as a symptom, like Er Xian Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with aversion to cold?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat aversion to cold as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or Ba Zhen Tang for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with aversion to cold?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat aversion to cold as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Ba Zhen Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with aversion to cold?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat aversion to cold as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Shen Qi Wan for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here