Night sweats according to Chinese Medicine

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Night sweats 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 night sweats 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 night sweats is often associated with dizziness, insomnia and tinnitus in the pattern “Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause night sweats.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause night sweats

In Chinese Medicine night sweats 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 and Liver Yin Deficiency

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

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to night sweats, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency include dizziness, insomnia and tinnitus.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Vaginal Itching.

Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency is often treated with Zuo Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Zuo Gui 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: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency here

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

Kidney and Lung Yin Deficiency

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

In addition to night sweats, other symptoms associated with Kidney and Lung Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and dry throat.

Kidney and Lung Yin Deficiency is often treated with Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Xian Chang Shou 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: "Treats Yin Deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys".

Read more about Kidney and Lung Yin Deficiency here

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 night sweats, other symptoms associated with Collapse of Yin include malar flush, constipation and five palm heat.

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

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 night sweats, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, insomnia and restlessness.

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

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

Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to night sweats, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency include dizziness, dry throat and dry mouth.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation.

Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency is often treated with Dang Gui Di Huang Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Dong Quai - Dang Gui - as a key herb). Dang Gui Di Huang Yin 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: "Nourishes Blood".

Read more about Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with night sweats

Liu Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 1119 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic for the Liver and Kidney Yin Essence (nourishes the parasympathetic nervous system).

Why might Liu Wei Di Huang Wan help with night sweats?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency' of which night sweats is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Kidney and Liver Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Liu Wei Di Huang Wan here

Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan

Source date: 1615 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Treats Yin Deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys.

Why might Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan help with night sweats?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney and Lung Yin Deficiency' of which night sweats is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidney And Lung Yin Deficiency include dizziness, tinnitus and dry throat.

Read more about Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with night sweats?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

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 night sweats?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Collapse of Yin' of which night sweats is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Collapse Of Yin include malar flush, constipation and five palm heat.

Read more about Da Bu Yin Wan here

He Che Da Zao Wan

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Kidneys. Strengthens the Directing and Penetrating Vessels. Regulates the periods.

Why might He Che Da Zao Wan help with night sweats?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency' of which night sweats is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Liver Blood and Kidney Essence Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about He Che Da Zao Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat night sweats

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with night sweats?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat night sweats and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat night sweats as a symptom (such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan 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 White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with night sweats?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat night sweats and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat night sweats as a symptom (such as 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 Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with night sweats?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat night sweats and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat night sweats as a symptom (such as Liu Wei Di Huang Wan for instance).

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with night sweats?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat night sweats and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat night sweats as a symptom (such as Da Bu Yin Wan for instance).

Phellodendron Bark is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Bladder, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness.

Read more about Phellodendron Bark here

Why might Anemarrhena Rhizome (Zhi Mu) help with night sweats?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat night sweats and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat night sweats as a symptom (such as Yu Nu Jian for instance).

Anemarrhena Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and Fire from the Qi level. Clears Heat and Fire from the Lung and Stomach. Clears Heat and tonifies the Yin.

Read more about Anemarrhena Rhizomes here