Not feeling well, yet not feeling ill? 身体感觉不适,但又查不出病来吗?

Updated: Mar 27


Adapted from: Ms Lim Lay Beng, Mind Your Body - The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2013.

Some of us fall in this borderline state whereby one is neither entirely ill nor sufficiently healthy. According to TCM physician Lim Lay Beng, such a state is called sub-health, and can be associated with a weak immune system.

In such cases, a body checkup may reveal a clean slate of health, yet one may still suffer from some discomfort, such as feeling tired all the time, falling ill easily, bloating in the abdomen, etc. While these symptoms may appear mild at the moment, they can affect our lifestyle and productivity, and may lead to larger health problems in the long run.

In this article, we sum up for you the causes of sub-health and suggestions for better well-being as shared by Ms Lim.


The causes of sub-health (or sometimes referred to as sub-clinical disease) in TCM may include weak lungs, weak spleen, liver qi stagnation and kidney yin deficiency. These are explained in detail below:

Weak lungs

  • Weak lungs are more easily attacked by external pathogens such as wind cold, wind heat etc.

  • This can affect the lungs and respiratory tract

  • Symptoms include: Sneezing, phlegm, cough, etc.

Weak spleen

  • A weak spleen cannot properly carry out its function of turning food into Qi and Blood, and may cause problems in the digestive tract

  • A weak spleen can be caused by poor diet

  • Symptoms include: Poor appetite, bloating, diarrhoea

Liver Qi Stagnation

  • When the flow of Qi in the Liver is blocked, it can cause Yang energy to build up in the liver, causing “heatiness”

  • Liver Qi stagnation can be brought on by stress, depression, negative emotions, fatigue etc.

  • Symptoms include: Bitter mouth, dry throat, bloatedness

Kidney Yin deficiency

  • Aging, strain, or chronic illness can cause kidney Yin deficiency

  • Symptoms include: Weak or sore knees and back, yellow or little urine

Overall, weak organs or poor flow of Qi can contribute to poorer health.


Apart from TCM treatments (read original article), Ms Lim also advices on some dietary and lifestyle changes to address the above causes.

To Strengthen Digestive System and Lungs

  • Eat food that is easily digested e.g. soup, porridge, fish

  • Avoid fried, oily, overly-sweet food

To Prevent Respiratory Infections

  • Keep warm during exercise

  • Avoid the wind or air-conditioning when the body is wet, e.g. after perspiring, after swimming

To Promote Qi flow & Reduce Heat in the Liver

  • Avoid negative emotions, stress and fatigue