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6 Signs of Sub Health

6 Signs of Sub Health

A person who has mild symptoms such as a dry mouth or a runny nose can still be unhealthy from a TCM perspective, even without suffering from the usual illnesses like fever or flu. Find out what it means to have sub-health and know some warning signs.

“Sub-health is imbalance in the body that has not developed into an illness yet,” explains Physician Lin Jiayi, who is based at the Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic at Serangoon Nex.

“A person who has sub-health can just feel uncomfortable. If she goes to a hospital to do a check-up, she would not be diagnosed with a disease.” This is because Western medicine tends to identify illness by the presence of specific pathogens.

However, TCM evaluates health by observing the overall state of the body. While sub-health usually does not cause major discomfort, it indicates an imbalance in the body that might lead to more serious conditions or illness. That is why TCM physicians advise that one should monitor one’s health for symptoms of sub-health.

What causes sub-health?

Imbalance in the organ systems is the most common cause of sub-health.

In TCM, one’s well-being is dependent on the harmonious relationships between five major organs— the Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lungs and Kidneys. In TCM, each organ is a system of functions that is not limited to the functions of the anatomical organs. For example, the Heart is thought to influence the Blood as well as the emotions. The organs also have interdependent relationships with each other: the Heart supports the Spleen, while the Spleen is restricted by the Liver.

Sub-health can be the result of issues in a specific organ or, more typically, issues that affect more than one organ. “When it comes to sub-health, normally more than one organ is causing the problem,” Physician Lin notes.

Common Signs of Sub-health

Signs of sub-health can be easy to overlook. Be aware of these common symptoms.

Sign 1: Insomnia

Possible cause: A common cause of sleeping difficulties is Heart fire — too much Yang or too little Yin in the Heart system. This leads to an excess of heat that disturbs the mind and body. According to Physician Lin, Heart fire often occurs together with Liver fire because the two organs have a close functional relationship.

Sign 2: Irritability

Possible cause: The feeling of being irritated or stressed might be caused by stagnation of Liver Qi, meaning the flow of Qi through the Liver has been impeded. This prevents the Liver from effectively carrying out its functions, which include the regulation of emotions.

Sign 3: Runny nose in the morning

Possible cause: A runny nose or sneezing in the morning may indicate a deficiency in Lung Qi. Other symptoms of deficient Lung Qi include shortness of breath, being susceptible to flu and sweating easily.

Sign 4: Constipation

Possible cause: Deficiency in the Spleen can cause difficulty with bowel movements. Spleen deficiency may also lead to other digestive issues such as bloating and gastric pain. “Many people have deficient Spleen Qi because of their lifestyle,” reveals Physician Lin. “They consume too much junk food and cold drinks, and eat at irregular intervals.”

Sign 5: Frequent urination

Possible cause: A need to pee more frequently, especially at night, might be caused by a deficiency in the Kidney system. Another sign of Kidney deficiency is lower back pain.

Sign 6: Hair loss

Possible cause: Hair loss is often caused by a deficiency in the Kidney and Liver systems. These organs govern the Blood and nourishment of the body, and are closely linked.

Simple remedies for sub-health

To restore a person’s balance, a physician may recommend treatments or diet and lifestyle changes that target specific organs. Here are some possible remedies:

  • For conditions caused by Heart fire: Drink cooling teas such as Chrysanthemum and Lophatherum Herb (Danzhuye, 淡竹叶). It also helps to go to bed earlier.

  • For conditions caused by Kidney and Liver deficiency: Take Fleeceflower Root (Heshouwu, 何首乌) which works on the Liver, Kidneys, and Blood.

  • For conditions caused by weak Spleen: Avoid cold food, cooling food, and raw food.

  • Do not overeat and have meals at regular intervals.

From the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, your body constitution can be broadly categorized into 10 types. In this one-to-one personal session with the physician, you can find out about your current dominant body constitution. Getting to know one’s body constitution is the first important step towards taking control of your own health. Eu Yan Sang TCM Health Constitution Report includes lifestyle-changing tips and simple recipes that can benefit your particular body. Let the physician be your personal guide to nurse yourself back to optimal wellness.

Eu Yan Sang TCM Health (Body Constitution) Report

At just $48*, Eu Yan Sang’s Comprehensive TCM Health Report includes:

  • One-to-one detailed consultation with Eu Yan Sang’s qualified TCM Physicians

  • Diagnosis of your dominant body constitution

  • 13-pager comprehensive report in both English and Mandarin

  • TCM-based lifestyle recommendations to regain balance

*Additional consultation charge applies at our TCM Centre and Premier TCM Centre, prevailing GST applies.

Related Articles

How TCM Works

TCM treats the mind, body and spirit as a single entity. This holistic approach is derived from fundamental beliefs in the Chinese culture, which emphasise the inseparable nature of Man with the Universe, as well as the need for balance and harmony.

When a person’s vital life force, known as Qi (气, pronounced “chi”), flows smoothly through the body, it establishes a balance between his spiritual, emotional, mental and physical realms. Similarly, the person needs to function in harmony with his environment, which includes acclimatising himself to the climate and the changes in his daily lifestyle.

If that flow and balance is upset, disease and illness will arise.

TCM employs a system of diagnosis, therapy and medication to restore that balance by boosting the body’s immune system in an attempt to fight off pathogens.

A TCM treatment usually includes a combination of medicinal herbs, nutritional therapies, physical treatments such as acupuncture, moxibustion, cupping, massage or Tuina, and therapeutic exercises such as taichi and related breathing techniques.

Understanding Basic TCM Terms

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient art of healing and an increasingly accepted practice around the world. Rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism, TCM dates back to more than 2,500 years ago.

Here is a quick guide on the meanings behind commonly used TCM words.

Five Elements

The 5 elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each has a specific characteristic as illustrated below:


A person’s vital life force, it is the source of energy flow in one’s body. If the qi is up and running, everything is in harmony. If the qi is weak or imbalance, illness and disease will occur.

Meridian Systems

The body has 12 principal meridian channels, and its primary focus is to carry and distribute qi, body fluids and blood to every part of the body. Meridians do not have anatomical structures. Along these 12 channels, lie acupoints. There are approximately 365 acupuncture points. Each point belongs to a particular meridian channel that connects to specific organs.

Yin vs. Yang

TCM considers the world as a single unit and its movement gives rise to yin and yang. The two opposing yet interdependent forces must maintain balance, and one cannot dominate the other. It is a concept used to diagnose patterns of disharmony and determine treatments to restore balance.

The 5 Organs & their roles

The Liver System

Role: Regulates the qi movement throughout the body.

Function: The Liver stores sufficient blood, boosts the digestive functions of the Spleen, nourishes the eyes from blood stored in the Liver and ensures proper movement of tendons preventing symptoms like spasms, numbness of limbs and difficulty bending or stretching.

The Spleen System

Role: Assists with digestion, and governs blood flow and fluid metabolism in the body.

Function: Transform food into essence used for qi and blood transformation. Our spleen’s health is reflected in lips, mouth and movement of the limbs and muscles.

The Lung System

Role: Regulars qi movement necessary for blood circulation, fluid metabolism, the autonomic nervous system and the immune system.

Function: Controls the circulation of qi and blood to moisten skin and body hair. When these functions are weakened, skin and hair become dull, rough and dry.

The Heart System

Role: Regulates the cardiovascular system while maintaining the nervous system’s functions. Qi from a health heart maintains an efficient blood flow in the blood vessels.

Function: The heart stores the “spirit”, an individual’s vitality. This ensures optimum mental, cognitive and intellectual abilities.

The Kidney System

Role: Regulates the urinary system, and controls the reproductive and nervous systems.

Function: The kidney stores ‘Jing’, an essential substance for bone growth, closely associated with life. Dental problems, hair loss, immature hair greying, hearing problems and urinary tract disorders are all signs of disharmony in the kidney system.


It is a physical treatment that uses hair-thin needles at specific points on the body. Acupuncture helps to restore balance, clear blockage within the meridians and strengthens qi. It is commonly used in pain management, arthritis, depression, allergic rhinitis and other health issues.


It is a physical treatment that uses glass or bamboo cups that are warmed to create a partial vacuum, so that a suction force can be created on the skin’s surface. Cupping helps to activate the lymphatic system promote blood circulation and aid deep tissue repair.


It is a combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of body manipulation by applying pressure to acupoints, Meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow or circulation of qi and blood.

TCM Diagnosis Methods

In TCM, external symptoms are the manifestation of internal imbalances. Hence, a TCM physician assesses one’s state of health by analysing external symptoms displayed to seek evidence of internal problems. Unique diagnostic methods are used to collect and analyse clinical information.

There are some diagnostic methods in TCM which are essential for determining the root causes of a health problem. A professionally trained TCM physician is usually able to differentiate the root causes of a problem by applying the following methods:

  • Observations (望): observe the entire body, which includes the tongue, complexion, body shape, posture, movement and vitality

  • Smelling and listening (闻): observe the smell of body odours, excretions and secretions; listen to the voice, tone, and sound of respiration or cough

  • Questioning (问): inquiring about the main concerns or complaints, the onset and duration of the problem, and relevant medical history and symptoms

  • Pulse analysing (切): feeling and evaluating the pulse by pressing on certain parts of the body such as the skin, muscles, acupoints, limbs, chest, abdomen and other areas

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