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Suppose you have an old car. And suppose you live in a very hot country. Let's suppose you're driving through the desert on a hot day in the early afternoon.
If the radiator leaks, your coolant, probably water, will evaporate or leak way. You'll have to keep re-filling it.
If you ignore this deficiency, this emptiness in the radiator, what will happen?
Your car's engine will over-heat. Without a coolant to pick up the engine's heat and radiate it away, your engine will rapidly deteriorate. Either it will burn out, or you'll have to rest it very frequently or run it very much more slowly.
Meantime, you'll find the air-conditioning or cooling fans will either stop or be less efficient. You'll get even hotter, not because you're ill, but because the car can't keep you cool.
Now you know what it feels like to be a car and driver with symptoms of Empty Heat, caused by deficient Yin.
Suppose you have an old house. It's winter and very cold outside.
Your house leaks heat through many cracks round doors and windows, and through the poorly insulated ceilings, floors and windows.
You have a central heating boiler. It's old too. It does what it can to push heat round the house through the radiators, but on a cold day, it's not enough.
So you're cold. Perhaps like French peasants several hundred years ago you go to bed as winter approaches and hardly get up until Spring?
Or perhaps you wear more, and eat more warming food to make up for the central heating's deficiency.
At any rate, you're cold and this is because of deficient or 'Empty' Yang energy. Either your central heating, your insulation, or your body's ability to keep you warm is deficient.
Here is a list of the basic symptoms, though they may be accompanied by other symptoms specific to your particular constitution and health.
By the way, for the reasons why we get like this, see the table further on down the page.
|You may have pink skin over your malar bones||Pale or dull|
|You like pressure and warmth on painful areas|
|Sensation of heat, or warmth, in the afternoon or evening||Sensation of cold, cold limbs, cold back|
|Dryness in the mouth: you desire frequent small sips of fluid||No thirst|
|Dry throat at night||No throat discomfort at night|
|You sweat at night in your sleep, but not because of ambient heat||You sweat in the day, even when feeling cold|
|Sensation of heat in the palms, soles and centre chest||You feel cold most of the time|
|Stools dry||Stools loose|
|No change||You often feel weaker|
|Urine scanty and dark||Urine copious and clear|
|Empty, floating, rapid||Weak, or deep and slow|
The following explains the usual reasons for why we develop these Empty Heat and Cold syndromes.
|Too many hours working||Too much physical work eg heavy lifting, or too frequent or long exposure to cold when younger|
|Poor eating habits||Not eating enough 'warm'-type foods|
|Frequent, heavy blood loss||Internal cold has injured Yang|
|Excess sex (drains Kidney Jing)||Excess sex drains Kidney Yang|
You might think that Empty Heat and Cold symptoms would only occur on their own. However, your body, in its effort to get and stay well, can carry several different conditions at the same time.
For example, you can carry External Heat at the same time as having Internal Empty-Cold (and vice versa).
This could happen when someone who is normally a cold person (ie lacking Yang), catches a bug, or is invaded by an external pathogenic factor, that produces External Heat symptoms. So he would have some symptoms of each.
What might be the symptoms in this case? The External Heat signs experienced might be a stiff neck and sore head, fever, red eyes and sore throat, with Internal Empty Cold symptoms such as feeling cold, with copious pale urine and runny stools.
It can take skill and experience to understand and diagnose a condition correctly. It's important to get it right, because getting it wrong could lead to the incorrect treatment, after which you might feel worse, or suffer your problem for longer. Read more at Suppression.
The recommended treatment is nearly always to clear the external factor before treating the internal condition.
Empty Heat and Cold symptoms are increasingly frequent in young people nowadays whereas they used to occur mainly as people grew older. The reasons for this can be seen, from the Chinese medical perspective, in the table above.
Here are other syndromes you might find interesting:
If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site (and of the books described below) works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist.
If you live elsewhere, click on BAcC.
Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index.
Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:
Still only one comment, though personally I think this is my best book so far.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine!
No comments yet: just published. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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