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Healthy water metabolism with Wisdom of Shang Han Lun

Updated: Mar 4

What is Fluid Balance Disorders

Let's learn about fluid balance disorders today.

Common diseases related to imbalances in body fluids include dehydration, water intoxication, and edema. According to the theory of Shang Han Lun, a classical TCM text on febrile diseases, excessive sweating can deplete the body's nutrients and lead to thirst and dehydration. This can occur during sunstroke, as a symptom of a cold known as "Cinammon Twig decoction syndrome," or during common colds in the summer when excessive sweating occurs.

Replenishing fluids usually helps improve the symptoms, but if you still feel thirsty even after replenishing fluids, it suggests improper fluid absorption, as if the fluids are stuck somewhere in the body.

This condition is commonly experienced after drinking too much alcohol. The day after a wild night, we might feel thirsty, but when we drink water, it's quickly expelled from the body, just like the situation we described above.

Dehydration occurs when we lose more fluids than we take in. It can happen from excessive sweating, ongoing fluid loss, or illnesses that result in constant vomiting and diarrhea. Not drinking enough fluids can lead to fever, and dehydration can cause dryness of the skin, mouth, or even weight loss.

Water intoxication occurs when there is too much fluid in the extracellular matrix. This happens when there is an issue with getting rid of fluids from the body, such as injecting pure water into a dehydrated person or drinking more water than the kidneys can get rid of. The extra water is absorbed into the body and stored in the extracellular fluid, causing cells to swell. Water intoxication is mostly caused by a decrease in sodium concentration in the extracellular fluid and can lead to painful muscle contractions, seizures, and other emergencies. Treatment involves limiting fluid intake and giving electrolyte solutions.

Difficult situations is when you experience symptoms of both dehydration and water intoxication at the same time. Even if you are sweating a lot and trying to rehydrate, you also have symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever, hence cannot drink water at all. It means that you are experiencing both water intoxication and dehydration symptoms at the same time.

This condition is all about fluid imbalance or water imbalance. Usually, the body absorbs fluid through the gastrointestinal tract and eliminates it through urine, keeping our tissues well-hydrated and nourished. But sometimes, if water builds up only in the gastrointestinal tract too much, it can lead to dehydration where our cells don't have enough water.

So, it's important to maintain a proper balance of fluids to keep our bodies happy and balanced in water metabolism.

This condition is commonly observed in pediatric cholera. It is characterized by severe fever, intense thirst, and the inability to absorb water when drinking. Dehydration of the muscles leads to pain, and the body is unable to expel heat through urine, resulting in fever.

To help with these symptoms, it's important to improve the body's ability to absorb fluid into the bloodstream, instead of just focusing on eliminating it through urine. The absorbed fluid should flow through the body via the bloodstream, and any excess fluid should be removed by urination.

Shang Han Lun provides fantastic prescriptions that effectively address dehydration, water intoxication, and edema. This approach can greatly improve the patient's condition compared to solely administering fluids or electrolytes through intravenous injections.

It can be helpful for patients who experience vomiting and severe thirst after excessive alcohol consumption, or for patients with chronic migraines and vascular headaches who are unable to dissipate heat due to fluid imbalance. It is also a suitable treatment for children suffering from pediatric cholera caused by rotavirus, as it is better than simply providing fluids and waiting for the fever to subside.

For Meniere's disease, which is caused by fluid imbalance in the inner ear, removing excess fluid through blood vessels can greatly help improve the condition. It can also be effective in conditions such as dry eye, where the tear duct lacks moisture due to fluid imbalance. Additionally, conditions such as gastric hernia, gastric atony(weakness of stomach wall) acute cystitis, nausea, and sunstroke can also be signs of fluid metabolism imbalance.

If you are experiencing unknown allergic diseases, unexplained weight gain, or any of the various diseases mentioned above, please book a session for a diagnosis of fluid metabolism.


Clavey, Steven. Fluid Physiology and Pathology in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Second edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2003. Print.

Zhang, Zhongjing et al. Shāng Hán Lùn = On Cold Damage : An Eighteen-Hundred-Year-Old Chinese Medical Text on Externally Contracted Disease. Brookline, Massachusetts: Paradigm Publications, 1999. Print.

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