Bronchiectasis according to Chinese Medicine

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Bronchiectasis factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, bronchiectasis can be associated with four 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 bronchiectasis can be caused by four different patterns.

To understand whether someone's bronchiectasis 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 bronchiectasis alone. For instance when bronchiectasis is caused by the pattern Wind-Heat entering the Lungs, patients also experience symptoms such as cough with foul-smelling sputum, slight fever, mild chest pain and dry and scaly skin. Similarly, patients with Wind-Heat entering the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

We've listed below a description of the four patterns associated with bronchiectasis 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 six formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with bronchiectasis, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The four "patterns of disharmony" associated with bronchiectasis

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

Wind-Heat entering the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Wei Jing Tang

Symptoms: Slight fever Mild chest pain Dry and scaly skin Cough with foul-smelling sputum

Bronchiectasis might be due to Wind-Heat entering the Lungs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as cough with foul-smelling sputum, slight fever, mild chest pain and dry and scaly skin. Similarly, patients with Wind-Heat entering the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

Read more about Wind-Heat entering the Lungs here

Arisaema With Bile (Dan Nan Xing) is the key herb for Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan, a formula used for Phlegm-Heat

Phlegm-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan

Symptoms: Nausea Chest fullness Focal distention Coughing and wheezing with copious thick and yellow sputum

Bronchiectasis might be due to Phlegm-Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as focal distention, chest fullness, nausea and coughing and wheezing with copious thick and yellow sputum. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a red tongue.

Read more about Phlegm-Heat here

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

Lung Yin Deficiency

Exterior Heat and Dryness can invade the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. If it is not dealt with for a long time, it leads to Lung Yin Deficiency. Typical manifestations are dry cough, throat and mouth, aversion to speak as well as Hoarse voice. 

Other factors can cause this pattern such as the Deficiency of Kidneys or Stomach Yin as well as prolonged Lung Qi Deficiency due to excessive smoking or use of voice.

Empty-Heat symptoms appear if the Lung Yin Deficiency condition is not treated for a while. Patients can feel malar flush, low-grade fever as well as Heat in the palms and chest, especially in the evenings. 

Lung Yin Deficiency generally occurs in middle-aged and elderly patients as a result of overwork, irregular diet and smoking. However, it can also occur in a child after whooping cough.

Read more about Lung Yin Deficiency here

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

Stomach Yin Deficiency

The Stomach is responsible for receiving foods and drinks, ripening them and sending them to the Spleen for further digestion. Therefore, the Stomach is the origin of Body Fluids. It is also an Organ that likes Cold and Dampness which are both Yin characteristics. Stomach Yin Deficiency harms this functions and cause Dryness and Heat. As a result, symptoms such as thirst, dry stools, dry mouth and dry throat appear. It also cause the tongue coating to fall off. 

Due to lack of Body Fluids, there is constipation with dry stools. Retching and hiccups may also occur as Stomach's Qi downward function is impaired. 

If the Yin Deficiency situation last for a long period of time, it can potentially develop Empty-Heat. It's typical manifestations are often quite mild and appears only in the afternoon or evening, such the mild fever or feeling of heat. The patients experiences thirst or hunger but there is no desire to drink or eat, or they only drink in small sips. They also prefer warm liquids and their appetite is poor.

Read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency here

The six herbal formulas that might help with bronchiectasis

Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Mai Men Dong Tang help with bronchiectasis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Lung Yin Deficiency and Stomach Yin Deficiency which are sometimes associated with bronchiectasis. 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 Mai Men Dong Tang here

Wei Jing Tang

Source date: 627 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat from the Lungs. Transforms Phlegm. Drives out Blood-Stagnation. Discharges pus.

Why might Wei Jing Tang help with bronchiectasis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Wind-Heat entering the Lungs, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchiectasis. If it looks like you might suffer from Wind-Heat entering the Lungs, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wei Jing Tang here

Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Phlegm. Directs Rebellious Qi downwards. Stops coughing.

Why might Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan help with bronchiectasis?

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

Read more about Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan here

Di Tan Tang

Source date: 1470 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Removes Phlegm. Opens the sensory orifices. Tonifies Qi.

Why might Di Tan Tang help with bronchiectasis?

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

Read more about Di Tan Tang here

Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang

Source date: 1658 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Clears dryness. Moistens the Lungs.

Why might Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang help with bronchiectasis?

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

Read more about Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang here

Da Bu Yin Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Enriches the Yin. Directs fire downward.

Why might Da Bu Yin Wan help with bronchiectasis?

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

Read more about Da Bu Yin Wan here