Bronchial asthma according to Chinese Medicine

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In Chinese Medicine, bronchial asthma can be associated with six so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here bronchial asthma can be caused by six different patterns.

To understand whether someone's bronchial asthma might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from bronchial asthma alone. For instance when bronchial asthma is caused by the pattern Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation, patients also experience symptoms such as coughing and wheezing with copious sputum, focal distention of the chest, poor appetite and digestive difficulties. Similarly, patients with Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

We've listed below a description of the six patterns associated with bronchial asthma so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below five formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with bronchial asthma, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The six "patterns of disharmony" associated with bronchial asthma

The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: San Zi Yang Qin Tang

Symptoms: Poor appetite Digestive difficulties Focal distention of the chest Coughing and wheezing with copious sputum

Bronchial asthma might be due to Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as coughing and wheezing with copious sputum, focal distention of the chest, poor appetite and digestive difficulties. Similarly, patients with Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Tight (Jin)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Symptoms: Coughing Dizziness Headaches Depression Moving pain Listlessness Hypochondrium fullness

Bronchial asthma might be due to Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as coughing, hypochondrium fullness, dizziness and headaches. Similarly, patients with Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit empty (Xu) or tight (Jin) pulses as well as a normal (light red), pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation here

Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Recommended herbal formula: Da Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Irritability Generalized body pain Severe fever and chills without sweating

Bronchial asthma might be due to Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as severe fever and chills without sweating, generalized body pain, thirst and irritability. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses.

Read more about Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the key herb for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Da Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Thirst Irritability Absence of sweating Feeling of heaviness Generalized body pain Alternating fever and chills Superficial edema in the extremities

Bronchial asthma might be due to Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as feeling of heaviness, generalized body pain, superficial edema in the extremities and alternating fever and chills. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Qing Long Tang

Symptoms: Wheezing No thirst Absence of sweating Generalized body pain Alternating fever and chills General sensation of heaviness Stifling sensation in the chest Coughing of copious thin and white sputum

Bronchial asthma might be due to Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating, wheezing and stifling sensation in the chest. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm typically exhibit tight (Jin) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Shen Qi Wan

Symptoms: Incontinence Lower back pain Urinary difficulty Lower abdominal pressure Weakness of the lower extremities Cold sensation in the lower half of the body

Bronchial asthma might be due to Kidney Yang Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as lower back pain, weakness of the lower extremities, cold sensation in the lower half of the body and lower abdominal pressure. Similarly, patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency typically exhibit empty (Xu) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

The five herbal formulas that might help with bronchial asthma

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Why might Da Qing Long Tang help with bronchial asthma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Exterior Cold invading with Interior Heat from Stagnation and Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs which are sometimes associated with bronchial asthma. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang here

San Zi Yang Qin Tang

Source date: 1856 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Directs the Qi downward. Transforms Phlegm. Reduces harbored food.

Why might San Zi Yang Qin Tang help with bronchial asthma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchial asthma. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm clogging the Lungs with Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about San Zi Yang Qin Tang here

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with bronchial asthma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchial asthma. If it looks like you might suffer from Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with bronchial asthma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchial asthma. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Why might Shen Qi Wan help with bronchial asthma?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Kidney Yang Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchial asthma. If it looks like you might suffer from Kidney Yang Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here