Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 气痰

Pinyin name: Qì Tán

Associated TCM concepts: Phlegm Qi

Related conditions: Goiter Neurosis Hysteria and ten other conditions


Common symptoms: Depression Mood swings Irritability Difficulty swallowing Stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and one other symptoms

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

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Also often called "plum-stone" or "plum-pit" (梅核, Méi Hé) syndrome or "globus hystericus" in modern medicine, the main characteristic of Qi-Phlegm is a feeling of something caught in the throat that can neither be swallowed nor ejected.

It is the result of a situation that affects the patient emotionally so much that they figuratively and physiologically cannot swallow it.

As a result the Lungs and Stomach lose their ability to move Qi downward. This, in turn, leads to problems with the transportation and transformation of Body Fluids, which leads to the formation of Phlegm. The Phlegm clashes with the Qi and ultimately lodges itself in the throat.

The obstruction of the Qi mechanism by Phlegm is also manifested in the stifling sensation in the chest. In severe cases, there will also be coughing or vomiting.

Related conditions

Irritable bowel syndrome Hyperthyroid Goiter Psychosis Globus hystericus Tonsillitis Neurosis Neurogenic vomiting Hysteria Laryngitis Edema of the vocal cords Esophageal strictures Esophageal spasms

Diagnosing Qi-Phlegm

Qi is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Qi in Chinese Medicine

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Possible symptoms: Depression Mood swings Irritability Difficulty swallowing Stuffiness of chest and diaphragm Feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Qi-Phlegm will tend to exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Qi-Phlegm might experience symptoms like feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm, difficulty swallowing and irritability (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Qi-Phlegm

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.

Formula summary

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) and Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu) as principal ingredients. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that promote Qi movement.

Besides Qi-Phlegm, Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang is also used to treat Stomach Qi Stagnation or Phlegm.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Most important herbs used to treat Qi-Phlegm