Feeling of cold according to Chinese Medicine

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Feeling of cold

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 dizziness, scanty periods and tinnitus in the pattern “Kidney Yin Deficiency”. 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.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Cracked

Kidney Yin Deficiency causes false Heat symptoms, such as night sweats, thirst and five palm heat. These signs are from a depletion of Body Fluids and Essence. It can be caused by prolonged overwork, excessive sexual activity, chronic long term illnesses, consumption of Body Fluids by Heat, prolonged blood loss, overdosage of Kidney Yang tonics herbs, smoking and Kidney depleting foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and fruit juices.

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yin Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and tinnitus.

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

Kidney Yin Deficiency is often treated with Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Liu 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: "Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system)".

Read more about Kidney Yin Deficiency here

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Wen Jing Tang, a formula used for Cold in the Uterus

Cold in the Uterus

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

There are two types of cold patterns: Full Cold or Empty Cold. Full cold refers to actual Cold Evil invading the Uterus and Dampness Stagnation often come along with this Full pattern. Empty cold is the result of Yang Deficiency, especially the Spleen and Kidney Yang.

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Cold in the Uterus include scanty periods, late period and dark clots in menstrual blood.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Cold in the Uterus is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps or Late Menstruation.

Cold in the Uterus is often treated with Wen Jing Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Wen Jing Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Uterus and vessels".

Read more about Cold in the Uterus here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, scanty periods and depression.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Dong Quai (Dang Gui) is the king ingredient for Sheng Yu Tang, a formula used for Blood and Qi Deficiency

Blood and Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Blood and Qi Deficiency include dizziness, scanty periods and depression.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Blood and Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menstrual Cramps or Absence Of Menstruation.

Blood and Qi Deficiency is often treated with Sheng Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Sheng Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi and Blood".

Read more about Blood and Qi Deficiency here

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

Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Tooth-marked, Swollen

In addition to feeling of cold, other symptoms associated with Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency include dizziness, depression and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Intermenstrual Bleeding.

Spleen or Kidney 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 or Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with feeling of cold

Dang Gui Di Huang Yin

Source date: 1640 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Blood. Tonifies Kidney and Liver Yin. Regulates the menstrual cycle.

Why might Dang Gui Di Huang Yin help with feeling of cold?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Irregular Menstruation.

Read more about Dang Gui Di Huang Yin here

Da Ying Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi and Blood. Expels Cold.

Why might Da Ying Jian help with feeling of cold?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Cold in the Uterus can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Da Ying Jian here

Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation.

Why might Si Wu Tang help with feeling of cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which feeling of cold is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Si Wu 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 feeling of cold?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Blood and Qi Deficiency' of which feeling of cold is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Blood and Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Menstrual Cramps.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang 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 or Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which feeling of cold is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleen or Kidney Yang Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Intermenstrual Bleeding.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

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

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 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 feeling of cold?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Da Ying Jian or Si Wu 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 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 Da Ying Jian or Bu Zhong Yi 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with feeling of cold?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of cold as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Er Chen Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

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 Wen Qi Hua Shi Tang or Zhen Wu 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