Perspiration, also known as sweating, is a physiological process to maintain normal body temperatures, and excrete water-soluble waste. Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can be an isolated symptom or a part of other complex conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, dysautonomia, rheumatic fever, and tuberculosis.
TCM physicians are able to make different diagnosis based on the timing, location, odour and color of sweat.
1. Timing: “Yang-insufficiency hyperhidrosis” is abnormal and excessive sweating during the day; “Yin-insufficiency nocturnal hyperhidrosis” is abnormal and excessive sweating at night.
“Sweaty face and head” may be due to damp heat (different from the concept of “inflammation” in Western Medicine) of the digestive system. It can also be due to indigestion after binge eating. When it happens to elderly and postpartum women, it’s mostly because of “Qi insufficiency”.
“Sweaty palms and soles” are mostly due to “Yin insufficiency”, although it could also be damp heat of the digestive system, or febrile illnesses.
“Sweaty chest” is seen in “weakness of the heart and spleen system” caused by anxiety and distress.
3. Odor: Fishy odor of sweat is related to damp heat and febrile illnesses.
4. Color: Yellow sweat is a sign of poor health.
TCM wellness care can improve excessive sweating
Prior to treatment, TCM physicians will assess the condition based on the quantity, location, timing and odor of sweat, as well as the individual’s habits, age, diet, and body constitution. Appropriate herbal formulas will be given. Patients with “insufficiency syndrome” need formulas to enhance Qi, nourish Yin, replenish blood, and balance the immune system. On the other hand, those with “excess syndrome” need formulas to reduce damp heat, soothe the liver, and reduce fluid retention. If it’s a mixture of both, then treat the dominant syndrome first. In addition, the common denominator for both daytime and nighttime sweating is sweat gland disorder. Thus, herbs with a drying effect (by consolidating exterior for arresting sweating) should be considered to increase treatment efficacy. These herbs are Ephedra root, blighted wheat, sticky rice root, five-flavor berry, and oyster shell.
Those who sweat easily should pay attention to:
1. Consuming enough water and nutrient-rich foods
2. Keeping the skin dry, changing often, and maintaining hygiene of clothing and beddings.
3. Avoiding direct exposure to wind to avoid getting sick.
Do not overlook excessive sweating. Consult professionals for advice.
Source: Life Care magazine © Ma Kuang Chinese Medicine & Research Centre Pte Ltd. Reproduced with permission.
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