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Chinese Medicine Treatment for Excessive Daytime Sweating

herbal prescriptions | acupuncture therapy | external remedies | health tips

This refers to profuse sweating over the entire body which is not due to exertion, hot surroundings, heavy clothing or medication. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) calls this "spontaneous perspiration", and sees it as a disharmony weakening protective qi, making it unable to regulate the external body, and manage the sweat pores. People with excessive sweating are likely to develop skin-fold rashes, folliculitis, prickly heat and boils on the body.

If clinical examination rules out any underlying health problems, such as hyperthyroidism, rheumatic fever, low blood sugar or infections, you may try a Chinese medicine remedy for relief.

Physicians use particular examination techniques to diagnose disharmony patterns, which reflects the pathological changes and provide guidelines for choosing remedies. In herbal remedies, qi or yang tonifying herbs such as astragalus root, ginseng and cinnamon twig are often prescribed to reconsolidate the external body and resume the normal functioning of the sweat pores. Ingredients including oyster shell, shriveled wheat, ephedra root, schisandra, gallnet of Chinese sumac, root of glutinous rice straw, fossil bone, white peony root and immature peach are astringent in properties, which play an assistant role to arrest the excessive sweating.

root of ephedra herb
shriveled wheat
root of glutinous
rice straw

Herbal prescriptions for excessive daytime sweating

Below are the common disharmony patterns involved in excessive daytime sweating.

Deficiency of protective qi
Frequent sweating during daytime which is aggravated after exertion or emotional stress, there is also breath shortness, fatigue, sensitivity to low temperatures, a pale complexion and a tendency to get cold and flu. The tongue is pale, and the pulse is weak. The remedy should replenish qi (vital energy), reconsolidate the external body and arrest sweating.

Sample prescription: Jade Windscreen Powder plus ephedra root, oyster shell and fossil bone

Deficiency of yang
Excessive sweating occurs over the entire body, limb coldness, sensitivity to low temperatures or chills. There may also have poor appetite, loose bowels, palpitations, chest tightness, obesity and a sallow complexion. The tongue is pale, and the pulse is weak and deep. The remedy should warm and strengthen yang qi, and promote the harmony between the internal and external body.

Sample prescription: Cinnamon Twig Decoction plus processed aconite, oyster shell and schisandra

Summer heat impairing body fluids and qi
Excessive sweating usually accompanied with a hot sensation inside the body, thirst, annoyance, chest stuffiness, and scanty yellow urine. On examination, the tongue is red and covered by dry yellowish fur, and there is a surging but weak pulse. The remedy should clear summer heat, replenish qi and promote the production of body fluids.

Sample prescription: Wang's Clearing Summer Heat and Replenishing Qi Decoction plus schisandra and fragrant Solomonseal rhizome

Internal heat accumulation
Persistent sweating, extreme thirst, flushed face, hot sensation, irritability, a red tongue with yellowish fur, and a surging, forceful pulse. The remedy should purge internal heat, replenish qi and promote the production of body fluids.

Sample prescription: White Tiger Decoction plus ginseng, snakegourd root, golden thread rhizome and reed rhizome.

Deficiency of qi and yin
Frequent bouts of excessive sweating during the day and night as well as other symptoms such as palpitations, irritability, fatigue, breath shortness, sensitivity to low temperatures, mouth dryness, slight fever and constipation. The pulse is weak or floating. The remedy should replenish qi, reconsolidate the external body, nourish yin and reduce heat.

Sample prescription: Chinese Angelica and Six Yellow Decoction plus white peony root, wolfberry root-bark and oyster shell

Heat phlegm obstructed internally
Excessive sweating, shortness of breath, irritability, hot flashes, thirst, palpitations, insomnia, headache or dizziness, a red tongue covered by yellowish greasy fur, and a pulse which is rolling and rapid. The remedy should clear heat, dissolve phlegm and arrest excessive sweating.

Sample prescription: Calm the Stomach Powder plus white peony root and schisandra.

Acupuncture therapy for excessive daytime sweating

Acupuncture regulates organ functioning and promotes harmony between the internal and external body so as to arrest excessive sweating. Acupuncture will have better and more sustainable results when used alongside herbal remedies. As the lung governs protective qi, sweat corresponds to the heart and kidney is regarded as the root of body, physicians usually select stimulation points along these three meridians. Some essential acupoints for excessive daytime sweating are:

He gu (Li 4) is the source point of the large intestine meridian; it helps purge lung heat, and regulate the circulation of blood and qi on the body surface.
Fu liu (Ki 7) is the river point of the kidney meridian; it helps enrich the yin of the body.
Yu ji (Lu 10) is the spring point of the lung meridian; it clears heat in the lung and stomach.
Hou xi (Si 3) is a point on the small intestine meridian, and also connects with the governor vessel. The point helps purge internal heat and benefit yang qi.

Important acupoints for excessive daytime sweating.
Important acupoints for excessive daytime sweating.

External herbal remedies to arrest sweating

For sweating problems, it is advised to apply external remedies in conjunction with internal remedies. The herbal remedies are applied on particular parts of the body. They activate certain acupoints, promote the flow of the meridians, and work to resume the internal harmony of body. They are simple and easy that can be done at home.

1. Dressing on the umbilicus
Prepare an equal amount of gallnet of Chinese sumac and schisandra, grind into fine powder and put aside. Each time, take 15g of the powder, mix with vinegar into paste form, fill in the navel (umbilicus) and then cover by gauze or tape. Change the filling everyday; you may see an effect after two to eight applications. Apply moxa heating for 20 minutes in winter.

2. Dressing on the soles of the feet
Prepare an equal amount of fossil bone (calcined) and gallnet of Chinese sumac, grind into fine powder and put aside. Every night before going to bed, take 20-30g of the powder and mix with water, paste it on the center of the soles, cover with gauze and fix in place. Afterward, press with the fingers on the area for 30 minutes each, keeping the dressing on overnight.

3. Dressing on the nipples
Prepare turmeric root-tuber and gallnet of Chinese sumac (2:1 in ratio), grind into powder and put aside. Every night before going to bed, clean the nipples, take 10g of the powder and mix with honey, paste it on the nipples, cover with swabs and fix in place. Keep the dressing on overnight.

4. Herbal powder for drying the body
(1) Oyster shell (90g, calcined), ephedra root (30g), astragalus root (30g), largehead atractylodes rhizome (30g).
(2) Equal amount of largehead atractylodes rhizome, jehol ligustium rhizome, Sichuan lovage and Dahurian angelica root.

Pound the ingredients until they are reduced to a fine powder, add 30g of talcum powder and mix properly. Clean and dry the body, dust on the powder and rub for a while. Apply as necessary.

5. Herbal washing for excessive sweating with prickly heat rashes
(1) Siberian cocklibur fruit (30g), alum (30g) and purslane herb (12g).
(2) Purslane herb (30g) and wild chrysanthemum(30g)

When preparing the decoction, first soak the herbs in 250ml of water for 20 minutes and then boil for 20 minutes. Use a swab, dip it in the warm solution, rub evenly on the skin lesion and then cover for 15 minutes. Rinse with clean water and wipe properly, dust with absorbent powder if necessary.

In hot summer, cool herbal bathing help clear the summer heat and prevent the development of skin rashes. Prepare agastache (20g), eupatorium herb (20g), wild chrysanthemum (20g), loquat leaf (60g) and soapstone (30g), decoct for 20 minutes and filter the solution. When taking herbal bath, rub the body surface slightly and soak in the bath for no longer than 30 minutes. Afterward, rinse the body with clean water.

mulberry leaf
amur corktree bark
turmeric root-tuber

Health tips for heavy sweating

Internal heat is an important factor for people who sweat excessively. The heat promotes the vaporization of body fluids; excessive sweating is a sign that the body is overheated and needs to cool down. As a result, people are advised to limit the amount of hot and spicy foods, avoid alcohol and smoking. They should also eat more ingredients that have a cooling effect and promote the production of body fluids, such as Chinese cabbage, lotus root, wild rice stem, tomato, apple, pineapple, plum, apricot, peach, water chestnut, sugarcane, loquat fruit, orange, eggplant and soybean sprouts. Daily meals are better prepared as cooked foods, and can supply adequate amount of water to the body.

When people also experience chills, breath shortness and fatigue, there may be a low level of qi (vital energy). Ingredients like red dates, Chinese yam, lily bulb, lotus seed, euryale seed, red rice bean, coix seed, honey, chicken, beef, ginseng, pilose asiabell root, liquorice root and astragalus root can be added to the diet to promote qi production and help arrest sweating. Below are some simple recipes.

Herbal tea: astragalus root (15g) and red dates (10g).
astragalus root
pseudostellaria root
pilose asiabell root
Herbal tea: pseudostellaria root (10-15g) and shriveled wheat (15g). Also suitable for children.
Herbal tea: shriveled wheat (30g), red dates (6 pieces), liquorice root (6g) and longan aril (10g). This is suitable for those who sweat heavily and tend to be nervous.
Herbal tea: astragalus root (15g), dwarf lily-turf tuber (10g) and schisandra (10g). Boil with 3000ml water for 1 hour. Keep the solution warm and drink regularly during the day.
Herbal congee: astragalus root (20g), Chinese yam (dried 30g, fresh 60g) and rice (100g). First boil the astragalus root with 400ml of water for 15 minutes to make a solution. Use a pot to boil 2000ml of water, add the herbal solution, Chinese yam and rice; simmer under low heat until the liquid thickens.
Herbal congee: fermented soybean (10g, quashed), mulberry leaf (6g) and millet (50g). First boil the fermented soybean and mulberry leaf with 500ml of water for 20 minutes to make a solution. Use a pot to boil 1500ml of water, add the herbal solution and millet, and simmer under low heat until the liquid thickens. Every night, eat a bowl of the congee before going to bed.
Herbal soup: black soybeans (50g, soak in water for 3 hours first), longan aril (20g) and red dates (30g), boil the ingredients with 2000ml of water for one hour, add rock sugar to taste. This is suitable for those who have excessive sweating, and also tend to get colds and feel fatigue easily.

For people who sweat excessively, regular exercise helps strengthen the body's control of sweating and improve the resistance to fight diseases. They should also learn to control the stress that triggers perspiration. Qigong practice or Supreme Ultimate Fist are ideal for relaxation. Fresh clothes should be worn every day, if possible change clothing once they are soaked. Wipe off the sweat constantly, which can reduce the skin complications like prickly heat rashes or boils