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Have you ever heard a Chinese friend said he/she got ‘Shang huo’(上火)? The direct translation of ‘Shang huo’ is ‘got fire/heat.’ However, this is apparently not the actual meaning of it.


‘Shang huo’ is a unique concept in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). According to TCM, you should have balanced Yin(cold) and Yang(hot) for perfect health. Yin and Yang are two opposing forces in the body. If Yang is greater than Yin, your body will generate too much heat. The excessive heat causes ‘Shang huo’. In Cantonese, it is also called Yit Hay or Yeet Hay.

Generally speaking, ‘Shang huo’ is caused by eating too much fried and greasy foods such as fried chicken, potato chips, pizza, hot spices, Chinese Hot Pot and barbecue foods. In addition, lack of sleep can also cause someone to be ‘Shang huo’. The symptoms of ‘Shang huo’ can vary depending on how severely ‘Shang huo’ you are. If you are only slightly ‘Shang huo’ , you will probably have a slight sore throat and some pimples but if you are overly ‘Shang huo’, mouth sores and nose bleeds are not uncommon. The ease with which you can become ‘Shang huo’ also varies from person to person. Some people are just more susceptible than others in becoming ‘Shang huo.’

Now that you know the causes and symptoms of ‘Shang huo’, it is time to talk about some cures. When you are ‘over heated’ (Shang huo), your Yang is greater than Yin, and you should find out solutions to return to the equilibrium stage of your Yin and Yang. Simple solutions could be eating or drinking something ‘cool’ or ‘cold’ to balance. For example, the most common drink for curing ‘Shang huo’ is Liang Cha’(Mandarin) / ‘Leurng Chah’ (Cantonese), which literally means ‘cold tea.’ This is a very popular herb tea in Guang dong and Guang xi province in China. The nature of the ingredients of ‘Liang cha’ is Yin (Cool). Therefore, when you are ‘Shang huo’, drinking ‘Liang cha’ could cool down your body and balance your Yin and Yang.

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