Chronic Fatigue Patterns

Chronic Fatigue Patterns

Chronic fatigue is best understood as a primary diagnosis of spleen qi deficiency combined with some other secondary pattern of disease. We have called this chronic fatigue patterns. Here we discuss some of the more common chronic fatigue patterns and how they help to explain the varied symptoms described by so many chronic fatigue patients.


Damp heat and spleen qi deficiency is a common combination found in chronic fatigue patterns. As we are taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine, when taxation of any system reaches the levels found with chronic fatigue patients, most of the other systems will be affected. This domino effect is what likely explains many of the other symptoms, not readily explained by the primary spleen qi deficiency.

Often, once dampness accumulates in the body, it will cause congestion and stagnation, which in turn can give rise to heat. In this case the combination of heat and damp results in a damp heat condition explaining why these patients often present with heat symptoms. These include sore throat and feverishness — classic TCM heat symptoms. This combined condition also can aggravate some symptoms associated with spleen qi deficiency such as gastrointestinal disorders, foggy headedness and night sweats. It is the job of the practitioner to tweeze out the various symptoms and determine which combined chronic fatigue patterns are the cause of the patients type of chronic fatigue.


Other patients can have a somewhat different progression of the disease. For instance, it is often the case that when spleen qi deficiency is of the magnitude we are discussing, then the liver will be effected. In Chinese medicine the liver is a sensitive organ and responds quickly to other organ system disorders. Thus a spleen qi-liver qi disorder is one of the common chronic fatigue patterns.

Given the sensitivity of the liver and its associations with the spleen, one can expect that there will be an associated liver qi depression and eventually and liver blood deficiency. This would explain the symptoms of those patients suffering from depression and joint pain.
Emotional depression is a classic liver qi depression symptom. Moreover, as the liver blood becomes deficient (because there is insufficient spleen qi to produce blood) the sinews and tendons do not receive sufficient nourishment and patients exhibit joint pain. Another common symptom of liver qi depression and blood deficiency is often insomnia.
Undoubtedly, other TCM pathology progressions may occur and will provide explanations for CFDIS and the resulting symptoms.

It is not the intention of the author to undertake a comprehensive analysis of all the TCM chronic fatigue patterns that might explain CFDIS. The objective is to provide an understanding of a few possible disease pattern combinations that occurs with many chronic fatigue patients. Those cover here are common conditions.

As is always the case, each patient must be assessed on an individual basis so that the practitioner can gain an understanding of the disease progression is that patient, and develop a treatment plan best suited to the individual patient.

For questions, please contact us at West Village Acupuncture at +1 917-968-2854.

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