Warm Illness or Thermal Nature

Warm people get heat problems more often, but you can have a cold problem that is temporary, even if you’re a warm type person.

Heat as a Temporary Condition

If your problem is acute, short-lived and intense, heat can produce varied symptoms depending on where it is. When the heat is located superficially, it can look exactly like a flu. Heat=fever. That’s easy, right?

Discharges that are yellow (to green) or dark suggest heat too. This would include visible secretions and excretions such as yellow nasal discharge, yellow to green phlegm, yellow vaginal discharges or dark urine.

Heat can also be located internally. There, it can cause restlessness and irritability if it is found in the (Chinese concept of the) Heart. In fact, heat coming from anywhere in the body can end up in the Heart. Liver heat for instance can manifest as impatience or frustration. Heat in the blood can cause excessive menstrual bleeding in women and nosebleeds in children. Heat in the Kidneys cause nocturnal emissions in young men and hot flashes in menopausal women. Heat in the Lungs looks like an upper respiratory infection. Heat in the Stomach causes heartburn. Heat in the Large Intestine can damage the body fluids there giving rise to hard, dry poop or constipation. Heat that is also damp in the Large Intestine causes yellow, burning, explosive, foul smelling diarrhea. Not something you’ll want to travel with, that’s for sure.

Warm as a Thermal Nature

In English, we can talk about a person being hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold. These have widely varied meanings, none of which apply to one’s thermal nature in Chinese medicine. So if you’re warm or hot, it doesn’t mean that you’re especially friendly or sexy.

However having a warm nature does make you more susceptible to problems that are aggravated by hot weather. When it comes to choosing an herbal formula, people with a hot or warm thermal nature can benefit from cold and cool herbs such as gypsum (shi gao) or rhubarb root (da huang). On the other hand, hot herbs such as baked ginger (gan jiang) or aconite root (zhi fu zi) can cause a hot person’s problems to get worse.

So, if you’re looking for an herbal formula to address long-standing chronic conditions that run in your family (thermal natures can be somewhat hereditary) then you’ll want to pay special attention to the recommended body temperatures.

However, if you’re hoping to address something more acute that hasn’t been around for long such as the common cold or other cold condition, it is okay to take warm formulas, but not for any longer than is absolutely needed to address the health concern.