Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 痰火忧心      Pinyin name: Tán Huǒ Yōu Xīn

Pattern nature: Full

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Phlegm

Causes

Precursor patterns: Spleen Qi Deficiency

Common causes: 1. Emotional stress, 2. Diet, 3. Overexposure to External Heat

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Anxiety Red face Insomnia Shouting Dull face and twelve other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

Tongue description: Red and swollen tongue with yellow sticky coating and deep middle crack. Redder and swollen tip with points.

Treatment

Treatment principle: Clear Fire, remove Phlegm, calm the Mind, open the Mind’s orifices.

Common formulas: Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang Wen Dan Tang

Pathology

This is an Excess pattern and all the mental symptoms are caused by Phlegm obstructing the Heart so that the Mind (Shen) is disturbed and lose its residence at the Heart. This obstruction can lead to the loss of insight , manic depression, extreme mental instability or even brain injury. 

All the mental symptoms mentioned are very similar to the ones with bipolar disease in the Western medicine. However, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart can happen without being diagnosed with bipolar disease. 

On the other hand, Heart Fire agitates the Mind so that insomnia, dream disturbed sleep, anxiety and agitation happen. 

Finally this pattern also features the symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency. The Spleen is the origin of all Body Fluids transformation and transportation. When this function is in disharmony, fluids accumulates to Phlegm. 

The existence of the Phlegm can be shown by the yellow sticky coating of the tongue and the Slippery Pulse. While Heat can be observed by the red tongue color. 

Causes

Precursor patterns: Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart can derive from Spleen Qi Deficiency

Emotional stress: Qi Stagnation happens if severe emotional stress such as depression is not solved for a long term. It then becomes Fire and obstructs the Heart.

Diet: Fire and Phlegm can be the result due to over consumption of hot and greasy foods.

Overexposure to External Heat: Overexposure to External Heat can lead to Internal Heat. It can condense the Blood and disturb the Body Fluids transformation, hence the Phlegm occurs.

Diagnosing Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua), wiry (Xian) or full (Shi)

Tongue description: Red and swollen tongue with yellow sticky coating and deep middle crack. Redder and swollen tip with points.

Main symptoms: Anxiety Red face Insomnia Shouting Dull face Palpitations Restlnessness Rash behaviour Mental confusion Incoherent speech Mental depression Violent behaviour Muttering to oneself Dream disturbed sleep Bitter taste in the mouth Rattling sound in the throat Uncontrolled laughing or crying

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the red tongue with sticky yellow coating and all these abnormal mental symptoms.

Treating Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Treatment principle

Clear Fire, remove Phlegm, calm the Mind, open the Mind’s orifices.

Herbal formulas used to treat Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Formula summary

Wen Dan Tang is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1174 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm.

Besides Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart, Wen Dan Tang is also used to treat Phlegm Misting the Heart or Gallbladder Deficiency.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1852 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder Heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Formula summary

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang is a 7-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1852 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that dry Dampness and transform Phlegm.

Besides Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart, Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang is also used to treat Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium.

Read more about Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Diet recommendations

As for food, better avoid alcohol, tobacco, meat, coffee, sodas, juices, any caffeinated foods and drinks, any hot, spicy, greasy and fried foods or any processed foods especially with additives. Eat lots of vegetables, tofu, black beans, greens, rice, barley, legumes.

Try psychotherapy such as cupping, meditation or any relaxation therapies. 

Consequence patterns

Yin Deficiency

Heart Fire harms Yin and causes general Yin Deficiency of the body. 

Blood Stagnation

First of all, Fire or Heat make the Blood thick. Secondly, Phlegm is the pathological accumulation of Body Fluids and it can cause Dryness of other part of the body, such as the Blood. 

Both Fire and Phlegm can cause Blood Stagnation and the combination of both worsen it.