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 epistaxis, bloody stools and bloody urine in the pattern “Loss of Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record three 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 three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause bloody sputum

In Chinese Medicine bloody sputum is a symptom for 3 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 Loss of Blood

Loss of Blood

In addition to bloody sputum, other symptoms associated with Loss of Blood include epistaxis, bloody stools and bloody urine.

Loss of 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 Loss of Blood here

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

Lung Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Exterior Heat and Dryness invades the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. It eventually leads to Lung Yin Deficiency, if not intervened for a long time.

In addition to bloody sputum, other symptoms associated with Lung Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dry cough and chest pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Lung Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation.

Lung Yin Deficiency is often treated with Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Lung Yin Deficiency 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 Liver Fire insulting the Lungs include dizziness, asthma and breathlessness.

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 'Loss of Blood' of which bloody sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Loss Of Blood include epistaxis, bloody stools and bloody urine.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Why might Bai He Gu Jin Tang help with bloody sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Yin Deficiency' of which bloody sputum is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Lung Yin Deficiency can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 'Liver Fire insulting the Lungs' of which bloody sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Fire Insulting The Lungs include dizziness, asthma and breathlessness.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang here

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

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 Lily Bulb (Bai He) 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)

Lily Bulbs is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and stops cough due to either Lung Yin Deficiency or Lung-Heat. Clears Heat from the Heart and calms the Spirit (Shen).

Read more about Lily Bulbs 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 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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu 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)

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Conditions associated with bloody sputum

Absence of menstruation