Obstructive pulmonary disease according to Chinese Medicine

Home > List of conditions > Obstructive pulmonary disease

In Chinese Medicine, obstructive pulmonary disease is sometimes associated with Cold-Phlegm, a 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" because both concepts arise from totally different ways of seeing the human body.

To understand whether someone's obstructive pulmonary disease might be caused by the pattern Cold-Phlegm, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from obstructive pulmonary disease alone. Indeed if obstructive pulmonary disease is caused by Cold-Phlegm, patients also experience symptoms such as white and watery sputum, feeling of oppression of the chest, cold limbs and nausea. Similarly, patients with Cold-Phlegm typically exhibit deep (Chen), slippery (Hua) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as Pale and swollen tongue with white wet coating .

We've listed below a more detailed description of Cold-Phlegm so that you can have a better understanding of where obstructive pulmonary disease might find its root 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 Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a formula that can help treat Cold-Phlegm.

Cold-Phlegm, a "pattern of disharmony" associated with obstructive pulmonary disease

Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) is the key herb for Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a formula used for Cold-Phlegm


Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formulas: Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang San Zi Yang Qin Tang, Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Symptoms: Nausea Cold limbs Poor appetite White and watery sputum Feeling of oppression of the chest

A famous saying in Chinese Medicine goes: "Phlegm has its source in the Kidneys, is then moved by the Spleen, and resides in the Lungs."

This couldn't be more obvious in Cold-Phlegm patterns. The "Cold" aspect of it is that it stems from a Fire Deficiency of the Gate of Life (Ming Men), which is the source of warmth for all physiological processes. This Deficiency inhibits the Spleen's ability to transform and transport the Body Fluids, which accumulate and become Phlegm and thin mucus.

The thin mucus is then sent to the Lungs, the natural next step for Body Fluids after they're filtered in the Spleen. Hence there are the symptoms of white and watery sputum as well as chest oppression in this pattern.

Read more about Cold-Phlegm here

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a herbal formula that might help with obstructive pulmonary disease

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Transforms congested Fluids.

Why might Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang help with obstructive pulmonary disease?

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

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang here

Most common herbs used to treat obstructive pulmonary disease in Chinese Medicine