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 palpitations in the pattern “Qi Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record four 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 four 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 four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause spontaneous sweating

In Chinese Medicine spontaneous sweating is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

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

Kidneys failing to receive Qi

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

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Kidneys failing to receive Qi include dizziness, listlessness and tinnitus.

Kidneys failing to receive Qi is often treated with You Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). You Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidneys failing to receive Qi here

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

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency

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

Tongue color: Pale

In addition to spontaneous sweating, other symptoms associated with Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency include shortness of breath, palpitations and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation.

Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency is often treated with Gui Pi Tang, a herbal formula made of 12 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Gui Pi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi and blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood".

Read more about Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency here

Four herbal formulas that might help with spontaneous sweating

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

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 spontaneous sweating?

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

According to Chinese Medicine, Spleen or Kidney Qi Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Early Menstruation.

Read more about Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with spontaneous sweating?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys Failing To Receive Qi include dizziness, listlessness and tinnitus.

Read more about You Gui Wan 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 Si Jun Zi Tang or Liu Jun Zi 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 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 Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

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 Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang or You Gui Wan 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 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 Liu Jun Zi 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

Conditions associated with spontaneous sweating

Early menstruation