Low-grade fever according to Chinese Medicine

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Low-grade 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 low-grade 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 low-grade fever is often associated with malar flush, constipation and night sweats in the pattern “Collapse of Yin”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause low-grade fever.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause low-grade fever

In Chinese Medicine low-grade 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.

Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) is the king ingredient for Da Bu Yin Wan, a formula used for Collapse of Yin

Collapse of Yin

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

In addition to low-grade fever, other symptoms associated with Collapse of Yin include malar flush, constipation and night sweats.

Collapse of Yin is often treated with Da Bu Yin Wan, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Da Bu Yin 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: "Enriches the Yin".

Read more about Collapse of Yin here

Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

In addition to low-grade fever, other symptoms associated with Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior include malar flush, weight loss and listlessness.

Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior is often treated with Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Achyranthes Roots - Niu Xi - as a key herb). Zhen Gan Xi Feng 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: "Sedates the Liver".

Read more about Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior here

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

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen

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

In addition to low-grade fever, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat invading the Spleen include poor appetite, feeling of heaviness and thirst without a desire to drink.

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen is often treated with Lian Po Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Lian Po Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat".

Read more about Damp-Heat invading the Spleen here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Ma Huang Tang, a formula used for Greater Yang Attack of Cold

Greater Yang Attack of Cold

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

In addition to low-grade fever, other symptoms associated with Greater Yang Attack of Cold include occipital headaches, stiff neck and sneezing.

Greater Yang Attack of Cold is often treated with Ma Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Ma Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases exterior cold".

Read more about Greater Yang Attack of Cold here

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

In addition to low-grade fever, other symptoms associated with Exterior Cold invading the Interior include constipation, abdominal pain and hypochondriac pain.

Exterior Cold invading the Interior is often treated with Da Huang Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Da Huang Fu Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and purge", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Interior".

Read more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior here

Five herbal formulas that might help with low-grade fever

Da Bu Yin Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Enriches the Yin. Directs fire downward.

Why might Da Bu Yin Wan help with low-grade fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' of which low-grade fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Collapse Of Yin include malar flush, constipation and night sweats.

Read more about Da Bu Yin Wan here

Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang

Source date: 1918 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Sedates the Liver. Axtinguishes Wind. Nourishes the Yin. Anchors the yang.

Why might Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang help with low-grade fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Empty-Wind agitating in the Interior' of which low-grade fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Empty-Wind Agitating In The Interior include malar flush, weight loss and listlessness.

Read more about Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang here

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Interior. Disperses Cold. Unblocks the bowels. Alleviates pain.

Why might Da Huang Fu Zi Tang help with low-grade fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Exterior Cold invading the Interior' of which low-grade fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Exterior Cold Invading The Interior include constipation, abdominal pain and hypochondriac pain.

Read more about Da Huang Fu Zi Tang here

Lian Po Yin

Source date: 1862 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Why might Lian Po Yin help with low-grade fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat invading the Spleen' of which low-grade fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat Invading The Spleen include poor appetite, feeling of heaviness and thirst without a desire to drink.

Read more about Lian Po Yin here

Ma Huang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Releases exterior cold. Treats wheezing.

Why might Ma Huang Tang help with low-grade fever?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Greater Yang Attack of Cold' of which low-grade fever is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Greater Yang Attack Of Cold include occipital headaches, stiff neck and sneezing.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat low-grade fever

Why might Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with low-grade fever?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat low-grade fever as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Tang or Ma Huang Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with low-grade fever?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat low-grade fever as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang 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 Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with low-grade fever?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat low-grade fever as a symptom, like Da Huang Fu Zi Tang or Zhen Wu Tang for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Tortoise Plastron (Gui Ban) help with low-grade fever?

Because Tortoise Plastron is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat low-grade fever as a symptom, like Da Bu Yin Wan or Zhen Gan Xi Feng Tang for instance.

Tortoise Plastrons is a Cool herb that tastes Salty and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Yin and holds down the Yang. Strengthens the Kidneys and strengthens the bones. Cools the Blood, stops uterine bleeding. Nourishes the Heart. Promotes Healing.

Read more about Tortoise Plastrons here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with low-grade fever?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat low-grade fever as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Gui Zhi 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