Bronchitis according to Chinese Medicine

Bronchitis factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, bronchitis can be associated with five 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 bronchitis can be caused by five different patterns.

To understand whether someone's bronchitis 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 bronchitis alone. For instance when bronchitis is caused by the pattern Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs, patients also experience symptoms such as headaches, chills without sweating, stuffy nose and dry throat. Similarly, patients with Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

We've listed below a description of the five patterns associated with bronchitis 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 bronchitis, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The five "patterns of disharmony" associated with bronchitis

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

Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Xing Su San

Symptoms: Phlegm Headaches Dry cough Dry throat Stuffy nose Chills without sweating

Bronchitis might be due to Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as headaches, chills without sweating, stuffy nose and dry throat. Similarly, patients with Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs here

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

Phlegm Heat in the Lungs

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Symptoms: Clump Phlegm Chest pain Constipation Epigastric pain Clumping in the chest Bitter taste in the mouth Epigastric focal distention Focal distention of the chest Coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

Bronchitis might be due to Phlegm Heat in the Lungs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as constipation, bitter taste in the mouth, coughing of copious thick yellow sputum and chest pain. Similarly, patients with Phlegm Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Phlegm Heat in the Lungs here

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

Bronchitis 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

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

Bronchitis 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

Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Soggy (Ru), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Symptoms: Palpitations Dizziness or vertigo

Bronchitis might be due to Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as palpitations and dizziness or vertigo. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium typically exhibit slippery (Hua), soggy (Ru) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium here

The five herbal formulas that might help with bronchitis

Xing Su San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.

Why might Xing Su San help with bronchitis?

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

Read more about Xing Su San here

Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Phlegm. Expands the chest. Dissipates clumps.

Why might Xiao Xian Xiong Tang help with bronchitis?

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

Read more about Xiao Xian Xiong 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 bronchitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Wind-Heat entering the Lungs, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchitis. 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

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 bronchitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm, a pattern sometimes associated with bronchitis. 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

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with bronchitis?

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

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here