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The concept of Empty Heat and Cold explains many modern health conditions arising from internal weakness.
It’s a variation on the idea of Empty, or Deficient, Yin or Yang. To read more about this, click on Yin deficiency.
Usually, it’s not appropriate to treat Empty Heat and Cold conditions with medications classified as being ‘anti-something’. That’s because these may further weaken the body.
Suppose you have an old car. And suppose you live in a very hot country. Let’s also 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 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.
|Empty-Heat: common symptoms||Empty-Cold: common symptoms|
|Deficient Yin||Deficient Yang|
|You may have pink skin over your malar bones||Complexion||Pale or dull|
|Pain||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||Thirst||No thirst|
|Dry throat at night||Throat at night||No throat discomfort at night|
|You sweat at night in your sleep, but not because of ambient heat||Perspiration||Even when feeling cold you may sweat in daytime|
|Sensation of heat in the palms, soles and centre chest||You feel cold most of the time|
|No change||After bowel motion?||You often feel weaker|
|Scanty and dark||Urine||Copious and clear|
|Restless, perhaps a little ‘hyper’||Mentally||Listless|
|None||Tongue Coating||Thin, white|
|Empty, floating, rapid||Pulse quality||Weak, or deep and slow|
The following explains the usual reasons for why we develop these Empty Heat and Cold syndromes.
|Usual Causes of Empty Heat||Causes of Empty Heat and Cold||Usual Causes of Empty Cold|
|Too many hours working||Work||Too much physical work eg heavy lifting, or too frequent or long exposure to cold when younger|
|Poor eating habits||Diet||Not eating enough ‘warm’-type foods|
|Frequent, heavy blood loss||Internal cold has injured Yang|
|Excess sex (drains Kidney Jing)||Sex||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.
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:
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