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Mystery condition with insomnia: various excess/deficiencies and herbs not helping. Why?


Hello, I’m 40 yrs old male in search of some desperate help with condition that has lasted over five years. I’ve had over four different Skype consultations with TCM practitioners who took me into different directions to no avail and some made things much worse. If any of you could look into this and provide your thoughts I would be forever grateful!

My symptoms are too numerous to list here and they seem to be all over the board: heating turning to cold, cold turning into heat, change with season, change with weather, changer with climate and so on.

Tongue has pale/grey coating all over, acupuncturist also says my tongue is wider with slight teeth marks (photo link here). I was told my pulse is shallow.

It all slowly started with becoming sensitive to dairy and wheat – would feel very lethargic or tired for hours after eating these. I experienced h pylori infection, appendix inflammation and surgery, etc. Then I started feeling constant lower back pain and periods where I felt wired and needed little sleep to keep going. Once I moved back to Eastern Europe from California it all blew up for me.

My sleep was become very light and very shallow. I developed an aversion to cold foods, liquids, raw food but not because I couldn’t digest it but because it caused bad insomnia. A raw salad later in the evening can keep me up all night for some reason, sometimes with some strange cold pulses from my abdomen down into my legs. Even if I eat right I still had insomnia and it manifested in a variety of ways over the years. I usually fell asleep OK but then I was up three hours later every single night. If I eat anything later than 6pm I wake up around midnight hot. If I eat right, I still wake up around 2:00am feeling very warm, restless, sometimes hungry. I drink water and often fall asleep but wake up very early again, usually being warm again. I have to urinate multiple times at night. Most of the time I wake up tired, unrefreshed and experience heart palpitations and shortness of breath during the day.

Strangely, if I eat anything with wheat and dairy, cream, etc (cake for example) I can be burning half of the night (10am-1am) and nothing would help. There’s something about that food that causes extreme response.

I also can not eat anything too warming like ginger, cinnamon, lamb, etc. This would make me very hot at night and make it impossible to sleep. I also have to avoid high histamine and glutamate foods as those are very stimulating during the night and can keep me up. I once took some L-Glutamine supplements and couldn’t sleep for quite a few days afterwards from a buzz in my head.

One of the most persistent and annoying sensations is this heat in my abdomen about 30-45 following meals. I get the same heat even after drinking cool water. An apple for example can make me very hot. It is worse when I’m reclining.

Stress tolerance is extremely poor, fatigue is really bad and I have to project my voice with force in order to speak and I get easily exhausted.

Kidney Yin and Yang tonics don’t do anything for me because the biggest issue is my gut now. Any yin or cold, bitter herbs even bitter food will make me chilled and fatigued.
I feel better from liver heat and heart heat clearing herbs but then develop these chills during the triple burner time 9-11:00pm, and also feel cold during the 9-11:00am. Also, two or three days later my fatigue gets so much worse with heavy legs that I can hardly drag around.

Any qi building herbs like astragalus and codonopsis initially give me a boost but then I get irregular heart beat, shortness of breath, feeling hot during the day and especially at night.

I tried playing around combining herbs for various patterns but can’s seem to find a good balance, mainly because I am not customizing them and play around with traditional herbal formulas like rehmannia six, rehmannia eight, gui pi tang, bu zhong yi qi tang, etc.
One of the better formulas I’ve used was Jia Wei Xiao Yao. It really got things moving inside of me again. No constipation, returned my appetite, etc but I had to stop about 1.5 months into it as I was feeling these really bad chills during the triple burner time 9-11:30pm, couldn’t sleep at all and nothing helped.

The best formula so far for me has been the Poria Five Combo and some gelatin to nourish yin/protect fluids (closest I could get to Zhu Ling Tang (Polyporus Decoction)). The latter combination helps me retain fluids better at night, not to be so thirsty all the time and prevents frequent urination.

I found out I feel pretty good Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Pian but it gives me sleeplessness.
I’ve consulted with a few TCM practitioners but they recommended things that did not work out for me. They either addressed kidney yin deficiency and methylation protocol (Dr. Wilson stuff), some addressed liver only, some claimed it is both yin deficiency and qi deficiency. I’m very sensitive to any supplements and most cause a paradoxical reaction. Tried formulas like ‘bu zhong yi qi tang,’ ‘jin kui shen qi and ‘tian wang bu xin pian’ but these do not work (together or separately) and create more imbalances for me.
In short, these are various deficiencies but I’m having a hard time untangling them and I am not addressing to root deficiency or perhaps there is a gate that I’m not entering through. For example, there’s probably something going on with the spleen that is not allowing me to nourish kidney jing or vice versa.

What is your take on all of this? I would be so grateful for any input.


Have you had any allergy testing? Have you had any blood work or hair analysis done? During a typical day do you live/work in environments where the temperature change is drastic - like working in cold storage or in a really hot manufacturing plant? Do you eat at consistent times during the day and do you eat relatively consistent amounts when you do? Do you have a structured exercise routine or regular physical activity you engage in?

Our health is not just a matter of what we eat and what herbal formulas we take - everything from our environment to our relationships to our posture to our sense of belonging are just some of the many factors involved.


Hello Stephen, I have not had any allergy testing because my condition did not improve even on the most basic elimination diet for a month. I had plenty of blood work done to test thyroid function, liver, kidneys, ultrasound, bacterial infections, etc. All was normal. The only thing that surprised me was that my blood showed I had Lyme infection at some point in the past but the infection was no longer active. I double checked with infectologist who said I did not have Lyme now. Also worked with a nutritionist who had me done organic acid test and it showed I had high number of oxalates in my urine and some neurotransmitters were out of range. He concluded it was leaky gut and had me on pumpkin and chicken diet for a month to “heal my gut lining” but I can’t say it helped.
No drastic temp change during my day. I do eat consistently, same time, consistent amount and mostly veggies (no nightshades), rice and meats and fish. No regular physical activity as I feel even 10 minutes of light cardio stresses my system but I usually walk out on the street or nature every day at least 10-15 minutes to get my circulation going.
I totally get what you’re saying. I do daily QiGong and feel it slowly slowly helping, especially with more warmth to my body and benefits to my mood and nervous system. My biggets nagging issue right now is sleep and consistent walking at around 1:30-2AM feeling very warm and then continuing being warm and having hard time sleeping. Also fatigue is still bad, I get drained really fast. I’m a family guy, relationship is stable, have other family around, feeling satisfied overall.


It sounds like you are affected by what you eat dramatically. I would look for someone who specializes in finding allergies or food issues to clear up the gut issues. That may mean you are more sensitive to the attempts to try herbs. My favorite Qi Gong for helping sleep is Robert Peng’s series on increasing energy in the three chakra’s for wisdom, love, and vitality. I attended a session with him and then bought his book and video tapes. He book was so clear I still have not listened to his tapes. After practicing for about a month, I found I could do it laying down to bed. Since then it has helped many of my patients sleep.


Hello and thank you for taking a moment to respond. There are definitely gut issues but like I mentioned I tried several elimination diets and they weren’t too revealing. I certainly have sensitivities to dairy and wheat but what about about all these other issues things like having burning in my stomach from cool water or insomnia from a simple salad in the evening? This can’t be an allergy.
I’ll check out Robert Peng’s series. Don’t all QiGong practices increase vitality? I have a very difficult time focusing while laying down at all and find my energies align best in erect posture.
Thanks again leapingfrog :wink:


Not all qigong increases vitality - in fact incorrect practice can result in disruption of the healthy flow of the qi. I’d recommend you take classes with an experienced practitioner. You would likely benefit from practicing a yin building activity like meditation or yin yoga. I’d also recommend not eating raw foods, cold (temperature wise) or drinking cold beverages from late afternoon on.


Hi Stephen, I received instructions from someone very qualified and who has direct transmission from a master of a well known lineage. I mainly practice standing tree and observing the red ball in the navel area practices. I do not any cold or raw food other than some fruit and berries. I certainly do not even touch cold drinks. I’ve been doing this for years now. Thank you for good advice though.


Hi there, I am no expert but, from looking at your tongue, you appear to have a lot heat (red spots) in your gut/intestines. Is this something you have been treated for at all/someone has mentioned before? I have a whole number allergies and that was the first place my herbilist started. However I could be completely wrong.

Also, if you are interested, I can pass on the email address of the herbilist I have been going to see and he may be able to help you. I am in the U.K. but he could help you via Skype etc? I went to so many different people over many years and he was the first person that could help me with my countless issues. Completely up to you though. I feel for you with all your issues bud.

Take care


I’m curious how long you stayed with any of the herbalists that you have worked with? And, as we talked about privately, but you never answered, have you actually physically seen a licensed practitioner regularly for a period of time? If not, that would be my recommendation - just get in there and see someone regularly for at least 3 months. Your ideal practitioner would be a licensed acupuncturist for one, practices herbal medicine and ideally practices qi gong/tai chi. While it is better than no consultation, online consultations are a poor substitute for what can be accomplished in person and over time as a practitioner can watch more subtle changes and steer the treatment appropriately.

I ask about treatment because, one, conditions can take awhile and jumping from treatment to treatment or practitioner to practitioner is generally not the way to resolve these issues. In fact it can drive it in so deep it can be increasingly hard for anyone to treat - particularly overuse of improperly chosen tonic herbs. But, two, I ask because the range of formulas you have listed make almost no sense for your condition - a few I could see making it greatly worse and those I can’t imagine you were actually offered by a fully trained Chinese Medicine practitioner.

The allergy part is a reasonable idea to pursue, but keep in mind that what makes allergies generally is a poorly functioning, reactionary system. While good diets are always a good idea, a poorly functioning system is still likely to have problems even with the best diets as you have found. Allergies are a response not a cause. You want to resolve the cause and working closely with someone over a period of time is the only way to get to this reliably.


Hi David, I’ve been told I have liver heat but not in mu gut/intestines but it could be because this is mostly where I feel it is coming from. It is quite possible all this started with mild allergies but they were not obvious enough to notice (other than sensitivity to cow’s milk and feeling lethargic after meals). Thing I’ve stayed away from allergenic foods for quite a while now and I should have felt some sort of improvement. Please do PM me the contact in UK. I live in Lithuania now so I can do Skype or fly there if he’s on to something. Thank you so much for reaching out and your kind words.


Hi Chad, these are good questions because I know how important it is to stick with someone for a while and let them go by trial and error for a while to see what works. I stayed with a first guy (fully trained accupuncturist and herbal medicine in LA, CA) for half a year but he really took me on a roller coaster ride. I mean he had me on a number of supplements and herbs and things got a bit better but then took a turn for worse. He was going by Dr. Wilson protocol to tweak the methylation plus a couple of Yin formulas. Then I went with another guy for a couple of months and then another. Franklly, I’m sick of the term “healing crisis” because this is exactly what they said when things took a turn for the worse. It was probably due to lack in experience but I wouldn’t know. I live in Lithuania now and I have no luxurty of having a qualified accupuncturist or let alone practices herbal medicine as most TCM herbal formulas do not exist in EU due to regulations - I have to ship all stuff from US. This why you see me go through quite a few formulas as I’m left to my own devices pretty much. It sucks and I’ve made mistakes but this is the only route I have right now. I’m making slow progress (probably mostly thanks to Qi Gong).
Chad what formulas do you think made no sense or especially the few that could have made things worse? Please share, this is very important for me. Thank you!


Chad is completely right. I have been my herbilist for the last 13 months and don’t feel any better yet - actually feel worse. However, I can see my tongue is improving and, from the research I have done, I know I am going in the right direction. I still have a long way to go but having hope is so important.

I’m not exactly sure how to pm on here


His email isn’t and don’t want to give it out on this forum in case he doesn’t want me to. They might give it to you if you phone though. If you have problems getting in contact with home just let me know.


You can PM by clicking on a user’s name (next to their icon) and then on the popup click “message”


Things is… if any treatment makes my fatigue and insomnia worse this is a no go for me. I have to function. I have to find an approach that doesn’t affect my sleep which is probably the biggest challenge. I’ve heard that TCM treatments should not make anyone worse. If the approach is custom tailored and is addressing the root cuases it should be gradually improving your symptoms, not making things worse. You are a patient guy, David. Thirteen months is a long time to go waiting for improvement.


I agree but my problems are so chronic that it was going to take time. When I say worse I guess they aren’t worse - they just haven’t improved yet. I too
Have allergies to dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar and many more foods. These haven’t improved yet, but my body is riddled with damp and heat, which needs to be cleared first, before I can improve.

I have sent you and pm if you want to carry on the conversation. i was as desperate as you sound a year ago but now have hope and I just want to try and help.


I agree, while possibly the first treatment or two could go any which way, from that point onwards you expect a general upward progression. It might be very, very slow for certain layered conditions, but things should not slide downwards. The “healing response”, while definitely a thing at times, is an oversold concept in my opinion and certainly not an expected process to go through in my clinical practice at least.

That said, you could very likely have more subtle issues change first before you get to the deeper issues. So in your case possibly some digestive improvement and less variations in temperature, possibly a month or so before you get to see vast differences in sleep. I’m not saying for certain, just as an example of a more likely and accurate path of resolving these issues.


I think this is exactly what’s going on right now. I feel like I’m going through very subtle and slow changes (not all positive but towards overall progress) and my symptoms are slowly unwinding in the opposite direction but in a more subdued manner. I’m a bit relieved to hear you say that sleep will catch up as well. After all, insomnia is where the worst of it all started for me. I am hoping I can still find someone who has a good clue as to what’s going on so I can address the root causes and be done with this no later than needed :slight_smile: I appreciate your insights, Chad.


Hi there Insomniac_Next_door, I have personally experience insomnia for a very very long time, like say on and off for about 2 years. Through many trial and error herbs, different healing modalities. I have found a solution for myself, now I’m not sure it will help your, nor have I read anyone suggestion from your post because there are too many. So I’m just gonna give it to you my friend.

  1. we have 2 brain, the main brain in our head and the 2nd in our stomach or to be more exact our soul plex.
  2. If you happen to be a thinker and think a lot and cant relax, or if you are a professor or in a field where you require alot of mental energies for work, it will weaken your soul plex brain. Which causes imbalance with in your systems centre of power.
    3)The other possible cause is your liver, do you drink excessively or are putting a lot of toxic food in your body, because your liver filter toxic and it is directly linked to your nervous systems.

Here are the possible solution approach which I used for most clients, but I’m giving it to you briefly and hopefully it will help you.

Step 1) Allow your healing, do not drink alcohol of any form or any think that can affect your nerve or your heart,e.g coffee, alcohol, gava etc… if you are not too clear on this do a google search or just pm me. Listen to music that help relaxes your nervous system, and relax in the moment when you listen to these musics

Step 2) Eat raw food vegetable or fruit that help with your nervous systems nuts etc

Step 3) Look up yoga that help with nervous system, or some simple soul plex chakra excercises each morning and night to rebuild your soul flex chakra and regain balance, go to sauna for 3 days to force out the toxins in your body.

Note, do not take sleeping pill, you will turn into a pill zombie and the pharmac will turns you into a pill bottle, treating from one symptop to another.

I hope that all this make sense to you, also let me know of the result and I will be more than glad too see how you go.

Love & Light to you,



Last thing I forgot to mention, the reason the herbs are not helping because your guts or digestive system is not absorbing, and those normal everyday stuff cause burns means, you need to cleanse your guts, look up a cleansing system or fast a couple of days it will help.

All the best

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