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Empty heat / five palms heat


Hell everyone–

For the past couple months I’ve had heat emerging from my palms and the soles of my feet, usually in the early morning and evening, but also periodically across the day. I suspect that it had been manifesting before, but I was too distracted by other issues (below) to pinpoint it. From my internet browsing, it seems I have some form of Empty Heat / Yin Deficiency. I don’t seem to be really displaying many of the other symptoms, mostly just the heat, which is annoying but not really painful.

Some background: I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for several years now, using caffeine and sugar to get through the work day when fatigued – many cups of green tea and/or coffee. Throw in a low-volume smoking habit (2-4 an evening) and poor sleep habits due to the over-stimulation, and I suppose my body was due for a wake-up call. I quit the cigs at the end of January, right around the time I caught a nasty reoccurring infection (I work at a school) and I wasn’t quite ‘right’ until the beginning of April. At the moment I’m suffering some stomach issues – probably due to stress and/or SIBO – and the palm heat that comes and goes.

I’ve restarted my Tai Chi practice in the past three weeks and that seems to somewhat relieve the symptoms - after 30 minutes of gentle stretching and breathing, the Five Palms heat feels reduced. For the most part, the 5PH is not as strong as it was 2-3 months ago. I’ve really reduced sugars and caffeine and am sleeping more hours/better thanks to melatonin & tai chi before bedtime.

My question is this – is empty heat a syndrome that can be addressed by lifestyle changes as I’ve listed above, or would acupuncture & herbs be necessary? I live a fair ways away from the nearest affordable acupuncturist and if I could heal it through diet, rest, and tai chi, I would prefer this. My tongue is pinkish/light red with no cracks and a light white coating. I’ve had blood tests that show nothing amiss and my general health is pretty good, with the exception of the digestion (combination stress and antibiotic after effects).


Many patterns can be helped tremendously by diet and lifestyle changes and then other practices such as tai chi over the long term can provide deeper vitality. That said, there is a reason medicine exists and it is in some part because the body is good at patterns and breaking them, particularly if they are layered, can be difficult on your own - even difficult at times with a practitioner.

From your tongue description, your history and your current issues you sound more spleen qi deficiency, possibly blood than anything - that can also give symptoms similar to those of mild empty heat. Further, with the recent illness a round of something like xiao chai hu tang (possibly) would help your body to be sure it has completely cleared the infections you were dealing with for months. This makes tonification both safer and increasingly possible.

If it were me, I would see whatever practitioner you are comfortable with, get a firm diagnosis and, if they think it is relevant, a herbal treatment plan and then perhaps seem them once a month for 3 or 4 times to check in and negotiate any required changes in the treatment plan. That with your own diet and lifestyle changes would likely get you much further. Certainly cutting the sugar and caffeine and slowing down is good and will benefit you. But firmly understanding what is happening with your body and tailoring those changes appropriately to a clear diagnosis is going to help more.


Thanks for the information. Once the semester ends I plan on taking a trip to get checked out. I also have vasodilation in the hands (red and white-blotchy when held down) but this, along with the heat, is something my mother experiences as well, so there might be some hereditary issues (or she might manifest the same syndrome from stress).

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