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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 风痰

Pinyin name: Fēng Tán

Associated TCM concepts: Wind Phlegm

Related conditions: Hypertension Menieres disease Tubercular meningitis and one other conditions


Common symptoms: Anger Aphasia Dizziness Headaches Itchy ears and ten other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

Tongue shape: Deviated, Swollen

Also known as an "upward disturbance of Wind-Phlegm", Wind-Phlegm particularly affects those who overwork, overindulge in rich foods or otherwise lead an irregular lifestyle.

These activities injure the Spleen and Stomach, which in turn impairs their functions of transforming foods, and  thus leads to an accumulation of Dampness, the predecessor of Phlegm.

According to the five elements theory, when the Spleen earth is Deficient, the Liver wood becomes dominant. Its Qi ascends as Wind, carrying the Phlegm along the course of the Lesser Yang Gallbladder and Triple Burner Channels to the head. Veiling the clear Yang and disturbing the sensory orifices, it manifests as dizziness, vertigo, or headache. A distinctive feature of these head symptoms is that the head feels heavy and clouded.

The stifling sensation in the chest and the nausea or vomiting are manifestations of Phlegm obstructing the mechanisms of Qi in the chest and epigastrium. The copious sputum, white, greasy tongue coating, and wiry, slippery pulse all reflect the presence of Phlegm, Wind, and Stagnation.

Related conditions

Hypertension Menieres disease Tubercular meningitis Benign positional vertigo

Diagnosing Wind-Phlegm

Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine

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 Wind-Phlegm will tend to exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Wind-Phlegm might experience symptoms like itchy ears, chest pain, constipation and anger (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Wind-Phlegm

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Dries and dissolves Phlegm. Strengthens the Spleen. Smoothes the Liver and calms Liver Wind (antispasmodic).

Formula summary

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) and Gastrodia Rhizomes (Tian Ma) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1732 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that transform Phlegm and extinguish Wind.

Besides Wind-Phlegm, Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang is also used to treat Phlegm.

Read more about Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Diet recommendations

Since Wind-Phlegm is often due to an overindulgence in rich foods, it stands to reason that one should change their diet towards light foods.

Most important herbs used to treat Wind-Phlegm