Thirst is a common clinical presentation, and can also be occasionally seen in otherwise healthy people in case of dehydration. However, do you know how much fluid is required a day? Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends a daily fluid intake of about 8 cups (or 2 liters) for adults. Liquids such as plain water, coffee and tea, desserts, soups, juices, all count towards the total fluid intake. In reality, actual fluid requirement varies between persons, and depends largely on the person’s health condition, activity level, and other external factors.

Unsurprisingly, inadequate water intake will, naturally, result in thirst. While it’s normal to feel thirsty on a hot day or after a strenuous workout, if you are constantly chugging tons of water with no relief, it may suggest underlying conditions. In TCM practice, the presentation of thirst and its accompanying desire to drink water are important indicators to aid in diagnosis and syndrome differentiation. The differential diagnosis can be largely categorized into two main groups:

  1. Thirsty and drinks a lot of water: Obvious feeling of thirst, accompanied by increased water intake. This is commonly seen in persons with heat syndromes or diabetes.
  2. Thirsty and yet does not drink a lot of water: A sense of thirst, but has no desire to drink water, or is not accompanied with increased water intake. Such presentation is commonly seen in those with yin-deficient, heat-dampness, blood stasis, phlegm-retention syndrome
Despite the general rule of 2 liters of water per day, some health conditions require patients to adhere strictly to water intake restrictions. These include patients with heart diseases, liver diseases, kidney diseases, and glaucoma. For more specific instructions, do consult your doctor for a more individualized restriction.

For those experiencing mild thirst, simple lifestyle changes and self-care can help to alleviate the discomfort.

  • Consume fresh fruits and vegetables, including pear, apple, cucumber, tomato etc.
  • Drink adequate amounts on a regular basis to stay constantly hydrated. Avoid drinking too much at a time
  • Choose warm water wherever possible
  • Cultivate healthy eating habits and minimize taking spicy, heaty, and oily foods
  • Herbal tea is also highly recommended for tea lovers with mild thirst. Not only can it replenish fluids, its medicinal effects can help to quench thirst and restore the body’s balance.

  • Ingredients: Chrysanthemum 3g, wolfberries 3g, dwarf lilyturf tuber 3-5 pieces, dendrobe 3g, hot water 250ml
  • Method: Infuse the ingredients with hot water using a thermal flask. Steep for 20 minutes before serving warm as tea. Repeat for second or third brew.
  • Function: Nourishes yin and fluids, dispels heat; suitable for patients with general thirst, dry throat, yellow urine, dry stools, warm extremities
  • For those who are constantly looking for desserts, feel free to try out the following recipe. Not only can it satiate your sweet tooth cravings, this snow fungus lotus seed dessert is healthy (best to remove rock sugar) and nourishing!

  • Ingredients: Snow fungus 1 piece, lotus seeds 50g, red dates 5 pieces, wolfberries 10g, water 2L, rock sugar
  • Method:
    1. Soak the dried snow fungus overnight to rehydrate. Wash and remove the roots. Tear the snow fungus into small pieces.
    2. Soak and wash the lotus seeds. Remove the plumule.
    3. Wash the red dates and wolfberries.
    4. Add the snow fungus and water into the pot and bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
    5. Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking on low heat for another 30 min. Add rock sugar to taste. Cool before serving.
  • Function: Replenish yin, nourishes stomach, dispels heat. Suitable for patients with general thirst, dry eyes and throat, yellow urine, dry stools
  • Last but not least, acupoints massage is also an important component of TCM treatment. Certain acupoints are found to have the function of nourishing yin and can therefore be used to relieve thirst. Massage gently for 10-15 minutes every day.

  • Tai Xi (KI-3): On the inner ankle, between the inner ankle and Achilles tendon
  • Yin Ling Quan (SP-9): On the inner calf, below the inner knee joint, behind the shin bone
  • San Yin Jiao (SP-6): On the inner calf, 4 finger-width above the inner ankle, behind the shin bone
  • Qu Chi (LI-11): On the outer end of the elbow crease

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