Spontaneous sweating according to Chinese Medicine

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Spontaneous sweating 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 spontaneous sweating 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 spontaneous sweating is often associated with shortness of breath, weak voice and poor appetite in the pattern “Lung Yang Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause spontaneous sweating.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause spontaneous sweating

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

Lung Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Slowed-down (Huan), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Lung Yang Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and poor appetite.

Lung Yang Deficiency is often treated with Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm interior cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Lungs".

Read more about Lung Yang Deficiency here

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

Heart Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

This pattern includes general Qi Deficiency signs along with Heart symptoms. It is often caused by blood-loss or excessive emotions, particularly sadness.

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Heart Qi Deficiency include palpitations, fatigue and pale face.

Heart Qi Deficiency is often treated with Bao Yuan Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Milkvetch Roots - Huang Qi - as a key herb). Bao Yuan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang".

Read more about Heart Qi Deficiency here

Ginseng (Ren Shen) is the king ingredient for Si Jun Zi Tang, a formula used for Qi Deficiency

Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Qi Deficiency simply means lack of Qi. It includes the lack of Original Qi, Nutritive Qi, Defensive Qi or the Qi that resides in Organs or Channels. It mainly manifests itself in a weakened function of Organs and a declining ability of the body to resist diseases.

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Uterine Bleeding or Heavy Menstruation.

Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Qi Deficiency here

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

Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and poor appetite.

Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency is often treated with Si Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Si Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency here

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include dizziness, tinnitus and heavy periods.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Heat in the 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 in the Blood here

Five herbal formulas that might help with spontaneous sweating

Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Strengthens the Stomach.

Why might Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang help with spontaneous sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Yang Deficiency' of which spontaneous sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Yang Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and poor appetite.

Read more about Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang here

Bao Yuan Tang

Source date: 1624

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Qi and warms the Yang.

Why might Bao Yuan Tang help with spontaneous sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Qi Deficiency' of which spontaneous sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Qi Deficiency include palpitations, fatigue and pale face.

Read more about Bao Yuan Tang here

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with spontaneous sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi Deficiency' of which spontaneous sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and palpitations.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with spontaneous sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen and Lung Qi Deficiency' of which spontaneous sweating is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen And Lung Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, weak voice and poor appetite.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang 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 spontaneous sweating?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which spontaneous sweating is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Heat in the Blood can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Acupuncture points used for spontaneous sweating

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat spontaneous sweating

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with spontaneous sweating?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spontaneous sweating as a symptom, like Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang or Bao Yuan Tang 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with spontaneous sweating?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spontaneous sweating as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with spontaneous sweating?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spontaneous sweating as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with spontaneous sweating?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spontaneous sweating as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with spontaneous sweating?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat spontaneous sweating as a symptom, like Si Jun Zi Tang or He Che Da Zao Wan 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

Conditions associated with spontaneous sweating

Early menstruation