High fever according to Chinese Medicine

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High fever 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 high fever 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 high fever is often associated with feeling of heat, irritability and delirium in the pattern “Stomach Heat”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause high fever.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause high fever

In Chinese Medicine high fever 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

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

In addition to high fever, other symptoms associated with Stomach Heat include feeling of heat, irritability and delirium.

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 Stomach Heat here

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

Lung Heat

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

In addition to high fever, other symptoms associated with Lung Heat include feeling of heat and shortness of breath.

Lung Heat is often treated with Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Ma Xing Shi 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: "Invigorates Lung Qi".

Read more about Lung Heat here

Heat victorious agitating Blood

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

In addition to high fever, other symptoms associated with Heat victorious agitating Blood include manic behavior, vomiting of blood and epistaxis.

Heat victorious agitating 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 victorious agitating Blood here

Heat victorious stirring Wind

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

In addition to high fever, other symptoms associated with Heat victorious stirring Wind include fainting, convulsions and opisthotonos.

Heat victorious stirring Wind is often treated with Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Saiga Antelope's Horns - Ling Yang Jiao - as a key herb). Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Cools the Liver".

Read more about Heat victorious stirring Wind here

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

Fire in Stomach and Intestines

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

In addition to high fever, other symptoms associated with Fire in Stomach and Intestines include irritability, delirium and abdominal fullness.

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 Fire in Stomach and Intestines here

Five herbal formulas that might help with high fever

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 high fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat' of which high fever is a symptom.

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

Read more about Bai Hu Tang here

Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Lung Qi. Clears Heat. Calms wheezing by directing rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang help with high fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Heat' of which high fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Heat include feeling of heat and shortness of breath.

Read more about Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang here

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with high fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat victorious agitating Blood' of which high fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Victorious Agitating Blood include manic behavior, vomiting of blood and epistaxis.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang

Source date: Qing dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Cools the Liver. Extinguishes Wind. Increases Fluids. Relaxes the sinews.

Why might Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang help with high fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat victorious stirring Wind' of which high fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heat Victorious Stirring Wind include fainting, convulsions and opisthotonos.

Read more about Ling Jiao Gou Teng 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 high fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Fire in Stomach and Intestines' of which high fever is a symptom.

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

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat high fever

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with high fever?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat high fever as a symptom, like Bai Hu Tang or Ma Xing Shi Gan 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 Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with high fever?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat high fever as a symptom, like Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang or Ling Jiao Gou Teng 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 Gypsum (Shi Gao) help with high fever?

Because Gypsum is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat high fever as a symptom, like Bai Hu Tang or Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang for instance.

Gypsum is a Cold herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and drains Fire. Clears Lung Heat. Relieves thirst and restlessness. Clears Stomach Heat.

Read more about Gypsum here

Why might Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) help with high fever?

Because Apricot Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat high fever 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 Rhubarb (Da Huang) help with high fever?

Because it is a key herb in Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Fire in Stomach and Intestines' (a pattern with high fever as a symptom)

Rhubarb is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Sunlight Yang stage. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Read more about Rhubarb here