Chest congestion according to Chinese Medicine

chest discomfort, chest fullness redirect here

Chest congestion 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 chest congestion 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 chest congestion is often associated with shortness of breath, coughing and oedema in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause chest congestion.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of chest congestion we’ve identified five 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 chest congestion.

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause chest congestion

In Chinese Medicine chest congestion is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids

Phlegm-Fluids

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to chest congestion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids include shortness of breath, coughing and oedema.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids here

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

Pericardium Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

In addition to chest congestion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/pericardium-blood-deficiency include dizziness, palpitations and chest pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/pericardium-blood-deficiency is often treated with Shen Qi Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Shen Qi Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Pericardium Blood Deficiency here

Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) is the king ingredient for Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation

Qi And Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Deep (Chen), Fine (Xi)

In addition to chest congestion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation include dizziness, depression and chest pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Qi And Blood Stagnation here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Chai Hu Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/half-exterior-half-interior

Half Exterior Half Interior

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to chest congestion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/half-exterior-half-interior include dizziness, anxiety and poor appetite.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/half-exterior-half-interior is often treated with Xiao Chai Hu Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Chai Hu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer)".

Read more about Half Exterior Half Interior here

Five herbal formulas that might help with chest congestion

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with chest congestion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids' of which chest fullness is a symptom.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

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

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with chest congestion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids' of which chest fullness is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Shen Qi Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation. Tonifies Qi.

Why might Shen Qi Si Wu Tang help with chest congestion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/pericardium-blood-deficiency' of which chest discomfort is a symptom.

Read more about Shen Qi Si Wu Tang here

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Why might Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with chest congestion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/qi-and-blood-stagnation' of which chest fullness is a symptom.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with chest congestion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/half-exterior-half-interior' of which chest fullness is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Acupuncture points used for chest congestion

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat chest congestion

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with chest congestion?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat chest congestion as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with chest congestion?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat chest congestion as a symptom, like Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Wu Ling San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with chest congestion?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat chest congestion as a symptom, like Xiong Gui Er Chen Tang or Shen Qi Si Wu Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with chest congestion?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat chest congestion as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang for instance.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.

Read more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with chest congestion?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat chest congestion as a symptom, like Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here