Cough With Chest Painaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Cough Related Symptoms

What is Cough with Chest Pain?

Cough with chest pain encompasses a symptom complex where a persistent cough is accompanied by discomfort or pain in the chest area. This condition can be indicative of various underlying health issues ranging from respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, to more severe conditions like pulmonary embolism or pericarditis. The pain may worsen with deep breaths or coughing, highlighting the need for a careful evaluation to determine its cause and appropriate treatment.

How does TCM view Cough with Chest Pain?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cough with chest pain is seen through the lens of energy imbalances and blockages within the body's meridian system. TCM theory suggests that such symptoms arise when Qi (vital energy) and Blood flow are obstructed, or when external pathogenic factors such as Cold or Heat invade the lung and chest area.

The presence of Phlegm or Stagnant Qi can also contribute to the symptomatology. TCM stresses the importance of identifying the underlying disharmony pattern, as treatments are tailored to rectify these specific imbalances, aiming to restore the smooth flow of Qi and Blood.

Root Causes of Cough With Chest Pain in TCM

TCM attributes cough with chest pain to several potential disharmonies, notably Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium. This condition signifies an accumulation of Phlegm and Dampness obstructing the flow of Qi in the chest, leading to symptoms such as cough, chest pain, upper abdominal focal distention, and even shortness of breath.

The presence of Phlegm-Fluids can also give rise to headaches and vertigo, indicating the widespread impact of the imbalance. Addressing these underlying causes requires a holistic approach, focusing on expelling the Phlegm and restoring the free flow of Qi through the chest.

Explore below more details about what might cause Cough with chest pain according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • Phlegm
Detailed description of the cause


In TCM "Phlegm" as a pattern of disharmony is a complex concept that extends beyond the physical manifestation of mucus. It represents a pathological factor that can disrupt the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, leading to various health issues. Phlegm in TCM is seen as a sticky, turbid substance arising from the body's inability to metabolize fluids properly, often due to a dysfunction of the spleen. It's not only associated with respiratory problems like cough and congestion but also with systemic issues. Symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness, mental cloudiness, dizziness, and in some cases, the formation of lumps or masses. Phlegm can even be "invisible," contributing to emotional disturbances like depression or stress. ... see more

Phlegm Patterns That Can Lead to Cough With Chest Pain

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium Cough with pain in the chest and hypochondria, Cough with chest pain, Upper abdominal focal distention, Dry heaving, Shortness of breath, Headaches, Vertigo, Pericardial effusion, Pneumonia, Ascites due to liver cirrhosis, Nephritis... see more Shi Zao Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Cough With Chest Pain

For treating cough with chest pain caused by Phlegm-Fluids in the chest, TCM recommends specific formulas and herbs tailored to the patient's pattern of disharmony. Shi Zao Tang is a key formula used in such cases, featuring Kansui Roots (Gan Sui) as a principal herb.

This formula belongs to the category of Formulas that drive out excess water, targeting the root cause by expelling Phlegm and Dampness from the chest and hypochondrium. Through the application of these targeted treatments, TCM aims to alleviate the symptoms by directly addressing the underlying imbalances, offering a path to recovery that harmonizes the body's natural energies.

See more details below about Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula used to address cough with chest pain.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Phlegm
  • Formulas that drive out excess water

TCM Herbs for Cough With Chest Pain

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address cough with chest pain, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Cathartic herbs that drain downward
  • Laxative herbs that drain downward

"Cathartic herbs that drain downward" recommended for cough with chest pain

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Kansui Roots (Gan Sui) Shi Zao Tang
Genkwa Flowers (Yuan Hua) Shi Zao Tang