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, constipation and feeling of heat in the pattern “Stomach Heat or 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 Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Stomach Heat or Fire

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

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red centre

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst and gum bleeding. Stomach Fire can be the result of excessive intake of hot, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods or other factors such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Stomach Heat or Fire include irritability, constipation and feeling of heat.

Stomach Heat or Fire 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 Stomach Heat or Fire 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 thirst, other symptoms associated with Bright Yang Stomach Heat include irritability, red face and feeling of heat.

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

Chinese Plums (Wu Mei) is the king ingredient for Wu Mei Wan, a formula used for Terminal Yin stage

Terminal Yin stage

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Terminal Yin stage include vomiting, cold limbs and diarrhea.

Terminal Yin stage is often treated with Wu Mei Wan, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Chinese Plums - Wu Mei - as a key herb). Wu Mei Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that expel parasites", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Organs".

Read more about Terminal Yin stage here

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

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to excessive thirst, other symptoms associated with Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat include fever, constipation and red face.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is associated with health issues such as Mastitis, Breast Engorgement or Morning Sickness.

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is often treated with Qing Wei San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Qing Wei San 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: "Drains Stomach Fire".

Read more about Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat 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 fever, irritability 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

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 thirst?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Heat Or Fire include irritability, constipation and feeling of heat.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi 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 thirst?

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

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

Read more about Bai Hu Tang here

Wu Mei Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Organs. Drains Heat. Calms roundworms. Drains the Liver. Calms the Stomach.

Why might Wu Mei Wan help with excessive thirst?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Terminal Yin Stage include vomiting, cold limbs and diarrhea.

Read more about Wu Mei Wan here

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Why might Qing Wei San help with excessive thirst?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Breast Engorgement.

Read more about Qing Wei San here

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 fever, irritability and vomiting.

Read more about Liu Yi San here

Acupuncture points used for excessive thirst

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 Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with excessive thirst?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat excessive thirst as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Shen Ling Bai Zhu San 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 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 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 Xiao Yao San 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