Blood Heat: Heat in the Blood

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Blood Heat, as well as being quite a nuisance itself, causes other syndromes too.

What’s the background for this?

First, to see what is meant by Blood, click here. As you’ll read, Blood is the basis for our consciousness, meaning that, in Chinese medicine theory,  where ‘who you think you are’ resides is in your Blood.

If someone has a major haemorrhage, or a terrible accident that puts him into shock, his Blood is severely exhausted and disturbed, and you may see his personality literally ‘going to pieces’.

But what if you’re all ‘there’, with no blood loss?

Conversely, if your personality is ‘all there’ but very disturbed, as described below, your Blood can be deranged. That derangement takes various forms, one of which is commonly from Blood-Heat.

Normally the Blood nourishes your body. It carries away unwanted matter, replacing it with new, healthier tissues. So far, so good, and much the same goes for the Western concept of blood.

When, however, something heats Blood, it tries to lose that Heat

The most efficient way that your body clears Heat is by perspiration through your skin. With Blood Heat, however, this process is stymied and instead your body has to clear or contain Heat in other ways.

Other Ways to Clear Blood Heat

  • rashes on your skin, showing that the process has got stuck. As this worsens, your skin gets itchy and hot as well.
  • heavier bleeding than normal, for example by nosebleed or during the menses. The periods may also start earlier than normal. This bleeding is a way for your body to carry heat out from your system. Unfortunately, this heavy bleeding can drain your energy.
  • making you seek means to cool yourself, for example by drinking more fluids. Then you urinate more, carrying some of the heat away. Unfortunately, drinking lots doesn’t usually solve the problem, and for some people can be a drain on their Kidney energy.
  • enhanced bowel movements but, usually, since the Heat is in the Blood, this means not so much that you get purging, but that there is blood or spots of blood in your stools.
  • As the problem goes deeper, it affects your Mind and you get mental restlessness, great anxiety, outbursts of temper, impatience and if it goes deeper still, you can get manic behaviour. Often there are ulcers in the mouth, quite often on the tongue.
  • The tongue itself is often red, and may have spots on the tip
  • The pulse is fast.

What sorts of conditions might be due to Blood Heat?

  • On or just under the skin, acne, dermatitis, eczema and red rashes: itching
  • Bursting through the skin: boils and ulcers
  • Drying out and thickening the skin: psoriasis
  • Over-heating of the intestines: haemorrhoids and, potentially more extreme conditions like ulcerative colitis, with gum ulcers and/or toothache. (The Large Intestine channel has a direct connection with the large intestine organ but the channel itself terminates on the face under the eye, having reached there from the jaw and side of the nose, so takes in the gums and teeth.)
  • Bleeding can occur from Blood Heat in conditions such as nosebleed, coughing up blood, vomiting up blood, heavy periods, bleeding between periods, blood in the urine or stools, bleeding gums. The hotter the Blood Heat, the redder the blood lost, the faster it flows and the more profusely. (However, please note that bleeding can be due to other syndromes in Chinese medicine, such as Blood Stasis, Qi deficiency and even Yin deficiency, but in these conditions the Blood is less urgent and, except for Qi deficiency when bleeding can go on heavily for some time, usually less in quantity.)
  • Blood Heat is a possible cause of miscarriage. Read the linked page for more on this.
  • If the stools are blacker than usual, this may be from blood-loss further up the intestines. This might be from an intestinal ulcer or from cancer. You should certainly get it checked.
  • You should also read the following page which explains what happens as disease penetrates through the different defences of your body. At the deepest level of the Four Levels you get a very dangerous form of Heat in the Blood.

Causes of Blood-Heat

Any one of the following could cause Blood Heat, if strong enough.

But often they get together, and you don’t notice symptoms until a number of the causes have been going on concurrently for a while.

It may then be hard to disentangle any single cause.

In one sense, the cause is because, in Chinese medicine, the Heart may not be controlling the Blood, and the Spleen not keeping it in place.

Then you get a mixture of possible causes, including mental stress and dietary mistakes.

  • Strong emotions, usually anger or frustration, but can be from ongoing excitement or apprehension or anticipation. Don’t ignore this one! In the West this type of cause is probably more common than from exposure to hot conditions, see below. This can definitely affect infants and small children, but adults too.
  • Ongoing worry or anxiety
  • A diet too rich in Heating foods. There’s a bit more about this under Nutrition.
  • Too much alcohol, or drinks that are very heating.
  • Strong or long exposure to hot conditions, including radiators, the sun and fire. For example bakers and stokers often have rashes because of frequent exposure to fire.
  • Radiation, eg from X-rays or radiotherapy.

How is it treated in Chinese medicine?

Heat is potentially a serious problem, in Chinese medicine. We all get it from time to time, and our bodies naturally clear it out within a few days, but what happens if it has become chronic, and your body doesn’t know what to do?


Photo by Ozzie Stern on Unsplash


  1. There are acupuncture points and combinations of points that help the body concentrate itself on clearing Blood Heat. 
  2. There are herbal formula in Chinese medicine that clear Heat.
  3. Some treatments may involve pricking the skin so that small amounts of blood escape, or scraping it so that a kind of red bruise appears.
  4. You must take care to avoid or change whatever circumstances led to the onset of the condition.
  5. You should avoid foods that are Heating, but you should probably also avoid very ‘cold’-type foods. This would include too much raw, uncooked, chilled or iced food or drink. Fruit is cooling – which you would think good, and it may be – but whether this is a good food for you depends on your particular health background and circumstances.
  6. It is usually harder to clear Blood-Heat in very hot conditions or environments or countries. But very cold countries or seasons when you need to wrap up well and/or take warming foods can be a problem too. Sometimes infants are so heavily and thickly dressed in cold countries that, in effect, they can’t clear their Blood Heat by perspiration.
  7. Some conditions like eczema can occur in people who feel cold all the time but whose skins inflame and itch more when covered or heated. Here treatment involves clearing Blood-Heat while also warming the interior. It can be tricky, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!
  8. Heat can lead to Blood Stasis, another serious condition.

Some other forms of Heat

In Chinese medicine, Heat crops up as a cause of disease in many ways. To understand more about it here are some pages you might like to read:


Of course, that’s not all, but it gives you an idea of the way Chinese medicine explains a number of different Heat conditions.

Jonathan Brand colours

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2 Responses

    1. If Liver Fire leads to Liver Wind or to Heart Fire, for example, yes, as these in turn contribute to Heat in the Blood.

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