Excessive thirst according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Excessive thirst

polydipsia redirects here

Excessive thirst 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 thirst 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 thirst is often associated with irritability, dizziness and constipation in the pattern “Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause excessive thirst.

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

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

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

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Red points on the sides

This pattern develops from Liver Qi Stagnation, which creates excessive amount of Heat and then turn into Liver Fire. The Heat is more intense here.

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire include irritability, dizziness and constipation.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Spontaneous Flow Of Breast Milk.

Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire is often treated with Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Mudan Peony Bark - Mu Dan Pi - as a key herb). Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear liver-heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi".

Read more about Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire here

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

Liver Fire Blazing

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Liver Fire Blazing include irritability, dizziness and constipation.

Liver Fire Blazing is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Liver Fire Blazing here

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include irritability, dizziness and constipation.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation, Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

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

Stomach Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Stomach Yin Deficiency causes Dryness and Heat, which harms the Organ's ability of receiving and ripening foods and drinks. It is the result of prolonged unbalanced diet and irregular eating habits.

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Stomach Yin Deficiency include constipation, dry mouth and dry stools.

Stomach Yin Deficiency is often treated with Mai Men Dong Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dwarf Lilyturf Roots - Mai Dong - as a key herb). Mai Men Dong Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Stomach".

Read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency here

Talc (Hua Shi) is the king ingredient for Liu Yi San, a formula used for Summer Heat

Summer Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Summer Heat include irritability, fever and vomiting.

Summer Heat is often treated with Liu Yi San, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Talc - Hua Shi - as a key herb). Liu Yi San belongs to the category of "formulas that dispel summer-heat and facilitate resolution of dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Summer-Heat".

Read more about Summer Heat here

Five herbal formulas that might help with excessive thirst

Liu Yi San

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Clears Summer-Heat. Drains Dampness. Supplements Qi.

Why might Liu Yi San help with excessive thirst?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Summer Heat' of which excessive thirst is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Summer Heat include irritability, fever and vomiting.

Read more about Liu Yi San here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with excessive thirst?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire' of which excessive thirst is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Drains Liver and Gallbladder Fire Excess.

Why might Dang Gui Long Hui Wan help with excessive thirst?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Fire Blazing' of which excessive thirst is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Fire Blazing include irritability, dizziness and constipation.

Read more about Dang Gui Long Hui Wan here

Liang Di Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin. Cools Blood. Stop bleeding.

Why might Liang Di Tang help with excessive thirst?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which excessive thirst is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Read more about Liang Di Tang here

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Why might Yi Wei Tang help with excessive thirst?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Yin Deficiency' of which excessive thirst is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Yin Deficiency include constipation, dry mouth and dry stools.

Read more about Yi Wei Tang here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Liu Yi San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with excessive thirst?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Dang Gui Long Hui Wan or Xuan Yu Tong Jing 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with excessive thirst?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

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

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 Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with excessive thirst?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Liang Di Tang or Yi Wei Tang for instance.

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with excessive thirst?

Because Mudan Peony Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San or Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang for instance.

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here