Symptom family: Throat & Pharyngeal Inflammations and Pains

Sub-symptom(s): Sore Throat At Night

Did you mean? Sore Throat

What is Throat Pain?

Throat pain, a symptom frequently encountered in clinical practice, manifests as discomfort or a painful sensation in the throat. It's a common issue that can result from various conditions ranging from infections like pharyngitis to environmental irritants. Throat pain can also occur as a sub-symptom of conditions like sore throat at night, which particularly affects patients during the evening hours.

How does TCM View Throat Pain?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers throat pain not merely as a local disturbance but as an indication of disharmony within the body's energetic system. TCM emphasizes identifying the underlying pattern of imbalance—be it Qi Stagnation, invasion of external pathogens, or internal heat—before proceeding with treatment, aiming for a holistic resolution of symptoms.

Root Causes of Throat Pain in TCM

In TCM, throat pain is often seen as a manifestation of Heat, where conditions like Full-Heat in the Small Intestine or Toxic-Heat Stagnation cause pain and discomfort. This Heat can arise from an imbalance of energies within the body or an external pathogenic factor.

Another common TCM diagnosis associates throat pain with Wind, which when combined with Heat, can lead to an acute, painful throat with rapid onset.

Explore below more details about what might cause Throat pain according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • By Organ
  • Heat
  • Yin Deficiency
  • Small Intestine
Detailed description of the cause

Heat

In TCM "Heat" signifies an excess of Yang energy, leading to an imbalance where heat predominates over the body's cool Yin aspects. This condition is metaphorically akin to an internal over-heating. Symptoms indicative of Heat can include feelings of warmth, fever, sweating, irritability, red face, thirst with a preference for cold drinks, and a rapid pulse. The tongue may appear red with a yellow coating. Unlike the common interpretation of heat in terms of temperature, in TCM, it represents a state of hyperactivity or inflammation in the body.... see more

Heat Patterns That Can Lead to Throat Pain

Common Symptoms: Mouth Ulcers Restlessness Insomnia Tongue Ulcers Deafness Cardiac Burning Sensation Abdominal Pain Craving For Cold Beverages

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Full-Heat in the Small Intestine Throat pain, Restlessness, Insomnia, Tongue ulcers, Mouth ulcers, Deafness, Cardiac burning sensation, Abdominal pain, Craving for cold beverages, Scanty and dark urine, Hematuria, Urinary burning... see more Dao Chi San
Toxic-Heat Stagnation Throat pain, Pustule, Carbuncles, Fever, Red skin eruptions, Sore throat, Eczema, Perineum swollen, Prostate swollen, Testicular swelling, Mouth ulcers, Tonsil swelling... see more Huang Lian Jie Du Tang | Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin
Detailed description of the cause

Yin Deficiency

Yin deficiency in TCM is a pattern of disharmony characterized by a depletion of the body's Yin energy, which represents the cooling, moistening, and nurturing aspects of our physiology. This condition often arises from factors like chronic stress, overwork, insufficient rest, or prolonged illness. Symptoms of Yin deficiency can include a sensation of heat, especially in the afternoon or evening, night sweats, insomnia, a dry mouth or throat, and a red tongue with little coating. There might also be a general feeling of restlessness or irritability. Since Yin is essential for balancing the body's active and warm Yang energy, its deficiency leads to a relative excess of Yang, manifesting as heat or dryness symptoms.... see more

Yin Deficiency Patterns That Can Lead to Throat Pain

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Yin Deficiency Sore throat at night, Heat sensation in palms, Emaciation, Thirst, Anxiety, Jumpy, Scanty and dark urine, Dry stools, Dry mouth and throat at night, Nocturnal emission, Pain relieved by pressure and cold, Preference for sipping... see more Liu Wei Di Huang Wan | Zuo Gui Wan | Mu Li San
Detailed description of the cause

Small Intestine

In TCM the Small Intestine plays a critical role in receiving partially digested food from the Stomach and further separating the clear from the turbid, essentially distinguishing nutrients from waste. This process is vital for proper absorption and assimilation of food. The Small Intestine is also associated with clarity of judgment and decision-making. When it malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to digestive issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, poor appetite, or irregular bowel movements. Additionally, a malfunctioning Small Intestine may manifest as mental confusion or difficulty in making decisions, reflecting its role in discernment and clarity in both physical and mental realms. ... see more

Small Intestine Patterns That Can Lead to Throat Pain

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Full-Heat in the Small Intestine Throat pain, Restlessness, Insomnia, Tongue ulcers, Mouth ulcers, Deafness, Cardiac burning sensation, Abdominal pain, Craving for cold beverages, Scanty and dark urine, Hematuria, Urinary burning... see more Dao Chi San

TCM Herbal Formulas for Throat Pain

For throat pain characterized by Heat patterns, TCM might prescribe Dao Chi San to clear Heat from the Small Intestine and Huang Lian Jie Du Tang for conditions of Toxic-Heat. These formulas contain herbs such as Akebia Stems and Goldthread Rhizomes, selected for their properties that align with the principles of clearing Heat and resolving toxicity, tailored to the patient's unique presentation of symptoms.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address throat pain, organized by cause and by formula type.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Heat
  • Yin Deficiency
  • Formulas that clear heat from the organs
  • Formulas that nourish yin and tonify
  • Formulas that clear heat and resolve toxicity
  • Formulas that stabilize exterior and stop sweating

All Formulas Recommended for Throat Pain Caused by Heat

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Dao Chi San Full-Heat in the Small Intestine
Huang Lian Jie Du Tang Toxic-Heat Stagnation
Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin Toxic-Heat Stagnation

All Formulas Recommended for Throat Pain Caused by Yin Deficiency

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan Yin Deficiency
Zuo Gui Wan Yin Deficiency
Mu Li San Yin Deficiency

All "formulas that clear heat from the organs" recommended for throat pain

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Dao Chi San Full-Heat in the Small Intestine
Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin Toxic-Heat Stagnation

All "formulas that nourish yin and tonify" recommended for throat pain

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan Yin Deficiency
Zuo Gui Wan Yin Deficiency

Acupoints for Throat Pain

TCM advocates the use of acupoints along meridians like the Large Intestine Channel to alleviate throat pain. Points such as Futu LI-18 and Hegu LI-4 are stimulated to benefit the throat, regulate Qi, and address pain.

Directing Vessel points like Xuanji REN-21 are also used for their influence on Qi dynamics and throat health. The selection of these points is strategic, targeting the interrelated nature of the meridians to treat both the symptom and its root cause.

Explore below some acupoints used to address throat pain, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Large Intestine Channel
  • Extra Points: Head and Neck (EX-HN)
  • Lung Channel
  • Stomach Channel
  • Directing Vessel
  • Triple Burner Channel
Sanjian LI-3

Sanjian LI-3

Located on the radial side of the index finger, in the depression proximal to the head of the 2nd metacarpal bone.

Hegu LI-4

Hegu LI-4

Between the 1st and 2nd metacarpal bones, approximately in the middle of the 2nd metacarpal bone on the radial side.

Tianding LI-17

Tianding LI-17

Tianding LI-17 is located on the lateral side of the neck, on the posterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, superior to Quepen ST-12 at the midpoint of the supraclavicular fossa. It is 1 cun below Futu LI-18 which is between the two head of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

Futu LI-18

Futu LI-18

On the lateral side of the neck, level with the tip of Adam's apple, between the sternal head and clavicular head of sternocleidomastoid muscle.

Erjian EX-HN-6

Erjian EX-HN-6

On the apex of the ear.

Kongzui LU-6

Kongzui LU-6

On the palmar aspect of the forearm, on the line joining Taiyuan LU-9 and Chize LU-5, 7 cun above Taiyuan LU-9.

Jingqu LU-8

Jingqu LU-8

1 cun proximal to the wrist crease (wrist joint space), in the depression on the radial side of the radial artery.

Shaoshang LU-11

Shaoshang LU-11

On the radial side of the thumb, about 0.1 cun posterior to the corner of the nail.

Shuitu ST-10

Shuitu ST-10

On the anterior border of sternocleidomastoid muscle, in the middle between Renying ST-9 and Qishe ST-11.

Qishe ST-11

Qishe ST-11

On the upper border of the clavicle, between the tendons of the sternal and clavicular heads of the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

Yutang REN-18

Yutang REN-18

On the midline of the chest, on the level of the 3rd intercostal space.

Xuanji REN-21

Xuanji REN-21

On the midline of the sternum, below the upper border of the manubrium sterni and midway between Huagai REN-20 and Tiantu REN-22.

Yemen TB-2

Yemen TB-2

Proximal to the margin of the web between the ring and small fingers.

Zhigou TB-6

Zhigou TB-6

3 cun above Yangchi ST-4 at the dorsal wrist joint space, between the radius and ulna.