Feeling of cold according to Chinese Medicine

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Feeling of 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 feeling of 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 feeling of cold is often associated with cold limbs, fatigue and loose stools in the pattern “Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause feeling of cold.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause feeling of cold

In Chinese Medicine feeling of 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.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

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 feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang include cold limbs, fatigue and loose stools.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang 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 or Empty Yang here

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe with additional Cold symptoms, such as cold feeling and cold limbs. The causes are similar to these of Spleen Qi Deficiency, along with surplus consumption of cold, raw foods and drinks and overexposure to cold damp environments and climates.

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Spleen Yang Deficiency include cold limbs, fatigue and loose stools.

Spleen Yang Deficiency is often treated with Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Zhen Wu 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 and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys".

Read more about Spleen Yang 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 feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, cold limbs and scanty periods.

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

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

Cold invading the Large Intestine

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Tight (Jin)

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Cold invading the Large Intestine include abdominal pain, diarrhea and cold sensation in abdomen.

Cold invading the Large Intestine is often treated with Liang Fu Wan, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Lesser Galangal Rhizomes - Gao Liang jiang - as a key herb). Liang Fu Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that promote qi movement", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Middle Burner".

Read more about Cold invading the Large Intestine here

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

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs include dizziness, feeling of heaviness and coughing.

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs is often treated with Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Poria-Cocos Mushrooms - Fu Ling - as a key herb). Ling Gui Zhu Gan 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 and transforms Phlegm-Fluids".

Read more about Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs here

Five herbal formulas that might help with feeling of cold

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with feeling of cold?

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

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with feeling of cold?

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

Read more about Zhen Wu 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 feeling of cold?

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

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

Liang Fu Wan

Source date: 1842 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Middle Burner. Dispels Cold. Promotes the movement of Qi. Alleviates Pain.

Why might Liang Fu Wan help with feeling of cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold invading the Large Intestine' of which feeling of cold is a symptom.

Read more about Liang Fu Wan here

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Transforms congested Fluids.

Why might Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang help with feeling of cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs' of which feeling of cold is a symptom.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang here

Acupuncture points used for feeling of cold

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat feeling of cold

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with feeling of cold?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Wu Pi Yin or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with feeling of cold?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Si Ni Tang or Li Zhong Wan 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with feeling of cold?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Dang Gui Di Huang Yin or Da Ying Jian for instance.

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

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with feeling of cold?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang or Zhen Wu Tang 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

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with feeling of cold?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Yi Huang Tang or Fu Tu Dan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here