When excessive sweating is not due directly to exercise or exposure to high temperatures, it may be due to one or more imbalances in the body according to traditional Chinese medical theory. While not a life-threatening disease, inappropriate sweating can be devastating when it impacts a person’s social and professional interactions.
Qi is responsible for holding the pores closed according to Chinese medicine. One of the main indications of Qi Deficiency is sweating with no activity. Often, the resulting sweat feels greasier than normal sweat from activity. Other Qi Deficient indications may also be present such as loose stools, but sweating with no exertion is often an early indication of Qi Deficiency and can be seen alone.
Wei Qi Deficiency
Wei Qi circulates at the surface of the body and protects the body from external pathogens. Because Wei Qi is in charge of opening and closing the pores according to Chinese medicine, deficient Wei Qi can lead to inappropriate sweating. One would expect other indications of Wei Qi Deficiency which might include poor body temperature regulation or immune disorders such as allergies, frequent cold and flu, and/or fungal infections of the skin.
Lung Qi Deficiency
The skin is part of the Metal Element and is the largest organ system of the body; the Lung energetic organ system is also part of the Metal Element. In Chinese medicine, the two are often diagnosed together and treated together as they are very closely associated. An example would be that someone who experienced asthma as a child and then developed psoriasis as an adult would have the same root cause of both conditions; the Metal Element would be treated.
One of the expressions of the Metal Element on an emotional level is our ability to maintain personal boundaries. When our boundaries are violated due to an extreme trauma, a Metal Element imbalance can develop. One of the symptoms might be excessive sweating with PTSD. Sometimes this type of emotional imbalance is best treated with acupuncture; however, if other indications of difficult breathing are present a Lung herbal tonic can impact both the physical structure and the emotional level.
Kidney Yin Deficiency
Common indications of Yin Deficiency are afternoon or night sweats; however, sweating from Yin Deficiency can occur any time of the day or night. While often associated with menopausal women, Yin Deficiency can occur in women or men, and less frequently in children. Chemotherapy and radiation consume Yin and can lead to Yin Deficiency, but more often it is seen in those who are middle aged and elderly.
Yin represents substance in the body and one of the main substances in our body is Blood. Blood contains mostly water. Water has an incredible insulative effect on the body helping to keep it warm when it is cold, and helping to keep it cool when it is warm. Some people think that simply drinking water will correct this problem; while it is true that hydrating is important, only Yin foods and Yin herbal tonics will reverse Yin Deficiency once it has developed in most cases.
Additionally, the Kidney energetic organ system is part of the Water Element according to Chinese medical theory. An imbalance of the Water Element can express itself as fear emotionally. This is why Kidney herbal tonics are used in cases of generalized of social anxiety disorders.
Excessive sweating may also be due to a number of medical conditions not mentioned:
- Excessive weight-obesity
- Blood sugar imbalances-diabetes
- Fever of undetermined cause
- Heart problems-endocarditis-heart attack
- Pharmaceutical medications
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma