Congested throat according to Chinese Medicine

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Congested throat 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 congested throat 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 congested throat is often associated with dizziness, coughing and feeling of heaviness in the pattern “Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause congested throat.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of congested throat we’ve identified four 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 congested throat.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause congested throat

In Chinese Medicine congested throat 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.

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

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi)

In addition to congested throat, other symptoms associated with Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs include dizziness, coughing and feeling of heaviness.

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs is often treated with Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Poria-Cocos Mushrooms - Fu Ling - as a key herb). Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids".

Read more about Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs here

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

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Phlegm in the Lungs (a synonym for "Substantial Phlegm") is the sputum that collects in the Lungs and is spat out during bronchitis or other Lung diseases.

In addition to congested throat, other symptoms associated with Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs include dizziness, coughing and feeling of heaviness.

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs 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 Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs here

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

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

In addition to congested throat, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs include dizziness, coughing and stifling sensation in the chest.

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs is often treated with Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Wen Dan 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: "Clears Hot-Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs here

Four herbal formulas that might help with congested throat

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with congested throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs' of which congested throat is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Cold-Phlegm In The Lungs include dizziness, coughing and feeling of heaviness.

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here

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 congested throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' of which congested throat is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Phlegm In The Lungs include dizziness, coughing and feeling of heaviness.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

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

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with congested throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs' of which congested throat is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat In The Lungs include dizziness, coughing and stifling sensation in the chest.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Lung Qi. Clears Heat. Calms wheezing by directing rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang help with congested throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs' of which congested throat is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat In The Lungs include dizziness, coughing and stifling sensation in the chest.

Read more about Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat congested throat

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with congested throat?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat congested throat as a symptom, like Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Er Chen Tang for instance.

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

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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with congested throat?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat congested throat 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 Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

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 Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with congested throat?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat congested throat as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Wen Dan Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Read more about Tangerine Peel here

Why might Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) help with congested throat?

Because Apricot Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat congested throat as a symptom, like Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang or Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan for instance.

Apricot Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops cough and wheezing caused by either Heat or Cold. Lubricates the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Read more about Apricot Seeds here

Why might Immature Bitter Orange (Zhi Shi) help with congested throat?

Because Immature Bitter Orange is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat congested throat as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan for instance.

Immature Bitter Oranges is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter, Pungent and Sour. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs.

Read more about Immature Bitter Oranges here