Heat and Heatiness in Traditional Chinese Medicine

October 22, 2022
3 min

Ever felt unusually warm, restless, or experienced sudden acne breakouts? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this might be described as being "heaty." Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that imbalances in the body can be caused by external factors from the environment. These factors include pathogenic wind, pathogenic cold, pathogenic summer-heat, pathogenic dampness, pathogenic dryness, and pathogenic heat.

Understanding Pathogenic Heat

In TCM, heat is represented by the element of fire and is associated with the summer season and the Heart. The concept of heat (fire) is essential in TCM as it can invade the body and cause various diseases and imbalances. Here are some key characteristics of heat in causing disease:

  1. Flaming Up: Heat/fire pertains to the yang energy and tends to flame up, leading to diseases characterized by high fever, aversion to heat, extreme thirst, sweating, and a full pulse. It can also disturb the mind, resulting in symptoms like dysphoria, insomnia, mania, coma, and delirium.

  2. Consuming Qi and Impairing Body Fluid: Excessive heat can drive body fluids out of the body through sweating, leading to symptoms such as thirst, dry throat and tongue, dark and scanty urine, and retention of dry feces.

  3. Causing Convulsions and Bleeding: Heat/fire can cause convulsions by burning and scorching the liver meridians, resulting in high fever, coma, limb spasms, and red eyes. It can also accelerate blood flow and burn blood vessels, leading to various types of abnormal bleeding.

  4. Creating Sores and Ulcers: Local stagnation of fire can manifest as sores, ulcers, redness, swelling, and a burning and painful sensation.

The Causes of Endogenous Fire

Endogenous fire refers to heat that originates internally within the body. Several factors can contribute to the development of endogenous fire, including:

  • Transformations of External Factors: Wind, cold, dampness, and dryness can all transform into heat within the body.
  • Emotional Upset: Intense emotions and mental disturbances can often turn into internal fire.
  • Yang Predominance and Yin Deficiency: When the yang energy is excessive, and the yin energy is deficient, endogenous fire and heat can occur.
  • Excessive Qi: Excessive qi energy can also lead to the development of fire within the body.

Manifestations of internal heat can include inflammation, agitation, anger, canker sores, red cheeks, acne, profuse bleeding during menstruation, and a bitter taste in the mouth.

Ways to Reduce Heatiness

Reducing heatiness in the body is essential for maintaining balance and optimal health. In TCM, certain foods and herbs are recommended for their heat-clearing properties. Here are some examples:

Heat-clearing Fruits:

  • Bananas: Known for their heat-clearing properties, bananas can quench thirst, cool the stomach, moisten the intestines, lower blood pressure, and promote urination. However, those with spleen and stomach deficiencies or insufficient yang energy should consume bananas in moderation.
  • Watermelons: Regarded as a natural heat-reliever, watermelons can relieve irritability, quench thirst, nourish the heart, and calm the mind. However, individuals with weak spleens, cold accumulation, watery stools, and clear urine should avoid excessive consumption of watermelon.

Heat-clearing Vegetables:

  • Water Spinach (Kangkong): Known for its ability to strengthen the stomach, detoxify, and moisten the intestines, water spinach is rich in nutrients and can protect against bacteria and viruses, especially during the summer months.
  • Spinach: This leafy green vegetable nourishes yin, moisturizes, calms the liver, and nourishes the blood. It aids in detoxification and is beneficial for those with bad breath, hard stool, and constipation.
  • Bean Sprouts: Clear heat and strengthen the spleen and stomach. Green bean sprouts are suitable for individuals with symptoms like dry mouth, thirst, hot urine, constipation, and red eyes, while yellow bean sprouts can help prevent mouth sores.
  • White Radish: Raw white radish can quench thirst, clear heat, strengthen the stomach, and aid in digestion. Cooked white radish is beneficial for promoting urination and bowel movements.

Heat-clearing Beverages:

  • Mung Bean Soup: Known for its heat-clearing properties, mung bean soup can help cool down the body and promote urination.
  • Winter Melon Tea: Made from winter melon, this tea has cooling properties and is often consumed to relieve heatiness in the body.
  • Bitter Tea: Bitter teas like herbal tea, asparagus juice, lemon juice, and plum juice can help reduce heatiness and inflammation in the body.
  • Coconut Juice: Coconut juice is not only refreshing but also has cooling properties that can help regulate body temperature and reduce heatiness.
  • Lotus Seed and Barley Soup: This soothing soup made from lotus seeds and barley is believed to have cooling effects on the body.
  • White Fungus and Lotus Seed Soup: White fungus contains collagen and pectin, which are beneficial for the skin, intestines, and lungs. Lotus seeds strengthen the spleen and stomach, clear the heart, and calm the mind.

By incorporating these heat-clearing foods and beverages into your diet, you can effectively reduce heatiness in the body and promote overall wellness. Remember, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and paying attention to your body's signals are key to achieving optimal health. Stay cool and stay well!

Similar Articles

TCM 101

The Mystery of Qi: Unraveling the Essence of Life's Vital Force

Unraveling the Intricate Nature of Qi: A Fundamental Force in Our Universe and Bodies. Journey with us through Chinese philosophy and medicine to explore Qi, the vital energy that forms and sustains life.
July 21, 2021
2 min read

Discover how the Moxa App can bring balance to your life

Find a comfortable position and let's begin

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from our company.
© 2023 Symposia Group Pte. Ltd. (Moxa). All right reserved.