Bloody sputum according to Chinese Medicine

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Bloody sputum can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like bloody sputum here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here bloody sputum is often associated with insomnia, dizziness and fever in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause bloody sputum.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of bloody sputum we’ve identified three herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat bloody sputum.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause bloody sputum

In Chinese Medicine bloody sputum is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to bloody sputum, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood include insomnia, dizziness and fever.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Fire insulting the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to bloody sputum, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-fire-insulting-the-lungs include dizziness, asthma and breathlessness.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-fire-insulting-the-lungs is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Liver Fire insulting the Lungs here

Three herbal formulas that might help with bloody sputum

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood' of which bloody sputum is a symptom.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Gu Jing Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin . Clears Heat. Stops bleeding. Stabilizes the menses.

Why might Gu Jing Wan help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/heat-in-the-blood' of which bloody sputum is a symptom.

Read more about Gu Jing Wan here

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Why might Long Dan Xie Gan Tang help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-fire-insulting-the-lungs' of which cough with yellow or blood-tinged sputum is a symptom.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

Acupuncture points used for bloody sputum

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat bloody sputum

Why might Baikal Skullcap Root (Huang Qin) help with bloody sputum?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat bloody sputum and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat bloody sputum as a symptom (such as Gu Jing Wan for instance).

Baikal Skullcap Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Lung, the Small intestine and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome.

Read more about Baikal Skullcap Roots here

Why might Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with bloody sputum?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat bloody sputum and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat bloody sputum as a symptom (such as Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang for instance).

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Bai He Gu Jin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern '' (a pattern with bloody sputum as a symptom)

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here

Why might Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Fire insulting the Lungs' (a pattern with bloody sputum as a symptom)

Chinese Gentian is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Liver and Gallbladder Meridians. Clears Liver-Fire. Clears Liver-Wind.

Read more about Chinese Gentian here

Why might Tortoise Plastron (Gui Ban) help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Gu Jing Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' (a pattern with bloody sputum as a symptom)

Tortoise Plastrons is a Cool herb that tastes Salty and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Nourishes the Yin and holds down the Yang. Strengthens the Kidneys and strengthens the bones. Cools the Blood, stops uterine bleeding. Nourishes the Heart. Promotes Healing.

Read more about Tortoise Plastrons here