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Why Herbs That Help Liver Make me Cold and Fatigued?


Hello everyone,

I feel there is one component that would lead me into the right direction when it comes to my condition detailed in previous post “Mystery condition with insomnia…”:

Finding why I feel better with liver moving herbs (Chinese formulas, also Western herbs like Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Burdock Root, Swedish Bitters, etc) but a day or two feel cold and very fatigued with heavy legs, etc. At the same time if I take Yin formulas I feel cold and chilled, especially during the triple burner times 9:00pm to 11:30pm - it’s that inner type of chills that are impossible to relieve from outside. Gulps of hot water help but only temporary and these chills can keep me up till midnight.

When I was experiencing lots of stagnation, bloating and distention I took Bupleurum & Peony (Easy Wonderer) was a wonderful formula for me (it worked up my digestion and insane appetite but didn’t do much for my sleep or fatigue issues) but only for about 6 weeks, then I developed these inner chills again in the evening and had to stop. Other than bloating I was already doing better but then two weeks ago I had two beers at my big round birthday and some cake and it knocked out my digestion – stagnation, pressure, low appetite, inner distention and pressure but now I can no longer take this Bupleurum & Peony and wonder easier again because of these chills that keep me up.

So my questions would be to all you wise ones:

What do you think gets so cooled from these bitter/cooling formulas that give me so much grief?

Is it my Ming Men/Fire Gate due to Kidney Jing deficiency or maybe my Spleen or Stomach?

I feel like I need to help my liver as it is the root cause of it all (because every time I do things start moving inside of me again) but not exacerbate other deficiencies so is there anything else I can stimulate the liver without the bitter herbs? Like acupressure, moxa points?

Thank you very much for any insights.

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

Generally speaking bitter and or cooling formulas are harder for the Spleen to process. If you’re already have cold symptoms taking a cooling formula is much more likely to make them worse (vice versa for hot symptoms and hot formulas) From a strictly theoretical perspective (and my own clinical experience) it would be highly unlikely taking xiao yao wan (which is the Easy Wanderer) would cause chills. However in complex and chronic cases this is harder to state with certainty especially without physically seeing and speaking with you.

Moxa could potentially overstimulate you and exacerbate the insomnia. If you do decide to try it I would suggest you do it only in the morning. To help the liver try to eliminate any and all processed foods, eliminate coffee and alcohol, eat well cooked slightly bland meals. Stress is usually the biggest culprit for the liver so meditation, massage, light to moderate physical activity, listening to music, etc. But make a point to specifically do something to help moderate the stress.


Hi Stephen, thank you very much! I was suspecting that it probably cools my spleen even further. I was doing pretty good on xiao yao wan for a good while and I thought I had found my magic formula but it wasn’t helping me with sleep much or fatigue. I simply had a really good appetite and digestion. Eventually though, as mentioned, I did notice those pesky chills during the 9pm-11pm time. I get them from many things, mostly from cool herbs or even bitter veggies and leafs like rucola (even cooked) but after testing a few times I noticed that they do get worse with xiao yao wan and they feel mostly in my abdomen/heart areas. It is likely that it is just another underlying issue that is unmasked so I have to find what it is. Likely qi deficiency or kidney yang so I have to experiment more.
I’ve eliminated processed food, coffee, gluten, alcohol long time ago and eat mostly cooked meals for a small exception of like cucumbers or some berries or pineapple. Stress does not dominate my current life style as well, other than dealing with this health mess :slight_smile:
Thanks again and be well.


Cucumber and pineapple are extremely cold foods and may make you feel chilly.


“Insomniac” doesn’t specify how often or how much of these cold foods he consumes. If he were to totally eliminate these foods and he still has these stabs of coldness he can’t eliminate, then maybe the practitioners here could do some deeper investigation.

Anyone should be able to occasionally eat a bit of the mentioned cooling foods without getting symptoms. It’s like he is living on a knife’s edge; he needs to toughen himself one way or another so that he can relax and enjoy all foods in moderation. Just my opinion. :smile:


Very good point. I eat small amounts but it’s something to keep in mind. Thank you.


If I eat raw it’ll be one cucumber in the morning, perhaps some sprouts every so often for lunch but not much more than that. The worst part is that these chills are exacerbated by wet weather. I don’t get it… is this dampness, low qi, kidney yang issues? What the heck can this be? I’d love to toughen myself up if I had a clue as to what’s going on :slight_smile:


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