Upper respiratory tract infections

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Upper respiratory tract infections factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, upper respiratory tract infections can be associated with seven 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 upper respiratory tract infections can be caused by seven different patterns.

To understand whether someone's upper respiratory tract infections 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 upper respiratory tract infections alone. For instance when upper respiratory tract infections 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 seven patterns associated with upper respiratory tract infections 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 eight formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with upper respiratory tract infections, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The seven "patterns of disharmony" associated with upper respiratory tract infections

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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the key herb for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Damp-Cold Phlegm

Damp-Cold Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Er Chen Tang

Symptoms: Nausea Vomiting Dizziness Palpitations Focal distention Coughing with copious white sputum Stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium

Upper respiratory tract infections might be due to Damp-Cold Phlegm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium and palpitations. Similarly, patients with Damp-Cold Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Damp-Cold Phlegm 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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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 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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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

Upper respiratory tract infections 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 eight herbal formulas that might help with upper respiratory tract infections

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 upper respiratory tract infections?

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 upper respiratory tract infections. 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

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 upper respiratory tract infections?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs, a pattern sometimes associated with upper respiratory tract infections. 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

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with upper respiratory tract infections?

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

Read more about Er Chen Tang 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 upper respiratory tract infections?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm Heat in the Lungs, a pattern sometimes associated with upper respiratory tract infections. 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

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 upper respiratory tract infections?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with upper respiratory tract infections. 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 upper respiratory tract infections?

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

Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang

Source date: 1247 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Expels wind and dampness.

Why might Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang help with upper respiratory tract infections?

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

Read more about Qiang Huo Sheng Shi Tang here

Sang Xing Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears and disperses Dryness.

Why might Sang Xing Tang help with upper respiratory tract infections?

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

Read more about Sang Xing Tang here