Tonsillitis according to Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, tonsillitis can be associated with three 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 tonsillitis can be caused by three different patterns.

To understand whether someone's tonsillitis 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 tonsillitis alone. For instance when tonsillitis is caused by the pattern Exterior Cold invading the Interior, patients also experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, hypochondriac pain and chills. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading the Interior typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" associated with tonsillitis

Exterior Cold invading the Interior

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

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Symptoms: Chills Constipation Abdominal pain Low-grade fever Hypochondriac pain Cold hands and feet

Tonsillitis might be due to Exterior Cold invading the Interior if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, hypochondriac pain and chills. Similarly, patients with Exterior Cold invading the Interior typically exhibit tight (Jin) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Exterior Cold invading the Interior here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the key herb for Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a formula used for Qi-Phlegm

Qi-Phlegm

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

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Symptoms: Difficulty swallowing Stuffiness of chest and diaphragm Feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes

Tonsillitis might be due to Qi-Phlegm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes and stuffiness of chest and diaphragm. Similarly, patients with Qi-Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Qi-Phlegm 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

Tonsillitis 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

The four herbal formulas that might help with tonsillitis

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Interior. Disperses Cold. Unblocks the bowels. Alleviates pain.

Why might Da Huang Fu Zi Tang help with tonsillitis?

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

Read more about Da Huang Fu Zi Tang here

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.

Why might Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang help with tonsillitis?

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

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu 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 tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with tonsillitis. 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

Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Source date: the 18th century

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Improves throat. Resolves toxicity. Clears the Lungs.

Why might Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang help with tonsillitis?

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

Read more about Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang here