Excessive sweating according to Chinese Medicine

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Excessive sweating 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 excessive sweating 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 excessive sweating is often associated with shortness of breath, palpitations and pale complexion in the pattern “Heart Yang Collapsing”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause excessive sweating.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of excessive sweating 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 excessive sweating.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause excessive sweating

In Chinese Medicine excessive sweating 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 Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart Yang Collapsing

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie), Minute (Wei), Hidden (Fu)

In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms associated with Heart Yang Collapsing include shortness of breath, palpitations and pale complexion.

Heart Yang Collapsing is often treated with Shen Fu Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Shen Fu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that rescue devastated yang", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores Yang".

Read more about Heart Yang Collapsing here

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

Bright Yang Stomach Heat

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu)

In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms associated with Bright Yang Stomach Heat include irritability, feeling of heat and delirium.

Bright Yang Stomach Heat is often treated with Bai Hu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Gypsum - Shi Gao - as a key herb). Bai Hu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear qi-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Qi-level Heat".

Read more about Bright Yang Stomach Heat here

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

Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms associated with Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines include irritability, delirium and abdominal fullness.

Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines is often treated with Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner".

Read more about Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines here

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Gui Zhi Tang, a formula used for Greater Yang Attack of Wind

Greater Yang Attack of Wind

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Floating (Fu)

In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms associated with Greater Yang Attack of Wind include aversion to wind, stiff neck and sneezing.

Greater Yang Attack of Wind is often treated with Gui Zhi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Gui Zhi 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: "Releases pathogens from the muscle layer".

Read more about Greater Yang Attack of Wind here

Mulberry Leaves (Sang Ye) is the king ingredient for Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang, a formula used for Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire

Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire

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

In addition to excessive sweating, other symptoms associated with Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire include aversion to cold, fever and sore throat.

Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire is often treated with Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Mulberry Leaves - Sang Ye - as a key herb). Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that disperse dryness and moisten", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears dryness".

Read more about Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire here

Five herbal formulas that might help with excessive sweating

Shen Fu Tang

Source date: 1445 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Restores Yang. Strongly tonifies the source Qi. Saves Qi from collapsing due to devastated Yang.

Why might Shen Fu Tang help with excessive sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Yang Collapsing' of which excessive sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Yang Collapsing include shortness of breath, palpitations and pale complexion.

Read more about Shen Fu Tang here

Bai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears Qi-level Heat. Drains Stomach Fire. Generates fluids. Alleviates thirst.

Why might Bai Hu Tang help with excessive sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Bright Yang Stomach Heat' of which excessive sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Bright Yang Stomach Heat include irritability, feeling of heat and delirium.

Read more about Bai Hu Tang here

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Why might Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang help with excessive sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines' of which excessive sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Bright Yang Fire In Stomach And Intestines include irritability, delirium and abdominal fullness.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang here

Gui Zhi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Releases pathogens from the muscle layer. Regulates the Nutritive and Protective Qi.

Why might Gui Zhi Tang help with excessive sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Greater Yang Attack of Wind' of which excessive sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Greater Yang Attack Of Wind include aversion to wind, stiff neck and sneezing.

Read more about Gui Zhi Tang here

Xing Su San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.

Why might Xing Su San help with excessive sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Dry-Heat or Dry-Fire' of which excessive sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Dry-Heat Or Dry-Fire include aversion to cold, fever and sore throat.

Read more about Xing Su San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat excessive sweating

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with excessive sweating?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive sweating as a symptom, like Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang or Xing Su San for instance.

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

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 Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) help with excessive sweating?

Because Apricot Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive sweating as a symptom, like Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang or Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan for instance.

Apricot Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops cough and wheezing caused by either Heat or Cold. Lubricates the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Read more about Apricot Seeds here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with excessive sweating?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive sweating as a symptom, like Xing Su San or Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with excessive sweating?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive sweating as a symptom, like Liu Wei Di Huang Wan or Zuo Gui Wan 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 Platycodon Root (Jie Geng) help with excessive sweating?

Because Platycodon Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive sweating as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Platycodon Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Opens the Lungs and smoothes the flow of Lung Qi. Expels Phlegm and pus from the Lungs and throat, can be used for either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat according to the other herbs in the formula. Directs the actions of other herbs to the Upper Warmer.

Read more about Platycodon Roots here