Coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

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Coughing of copious thick yellow 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 coughing of copious thick yellow 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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum is often associated with chest pain, fever and anxiety in the pattern “Phlegm Heat in the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause coughing of copious thick yellow sputum.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of coughing of copious thick yellow 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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

In Chinese Medicine coughing of copious thick yellow 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.

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)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

In addition to coughing of copious thick yellow sputum, other symptoms associated with Phlegm Heat in the Lungs include chest pain, fever and anxiety.

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

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Wen Dan Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Heat

Phlegm-Heat

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

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Tongue shape: Swollen

Phlegm-Heat arises when Dampness or Body Fluids combine with pathogenic Heat. Common symptoms include the coughing of a thick, yellow, viscous sputum that is difficult to expectorate and a red, flushed face.

In addition to coughing of copious thick yellow sputum, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Heat include chest fullness, red face and feeling of oppression of the chest.

Phlegm-Heat 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 here

Three herbal formulas that might help with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm Heat in the Lungs' of which coughing of copious thick yellow sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm Heat In The Lungs include chest pain, fever and anxiety.

Read more about Ma Xing Shi Gan 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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat' of which coughing of copious thick yellow sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat include chest fullness, red face and feeling of oppression of the chest.

Read more about Wen Dan 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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm Heat in the Lungs' of which coughing of copious thick yellow sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm Heat In The Lungs include chest pain, fever and anxiety.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum as a symptom, like Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang or Er Chen 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 Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum as a symptom, like Wen Dan Tang or Er Chen Tang for instance.

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

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 Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum 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 coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because Apricot Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum as a symptom, like Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang or Ding Chuan Tang 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 Baikal Skullcap Root (Huang Qin) help with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum?

Because Baikal Skullcap Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thick yellow sputum as a symptom, like Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan or Ding Chuan Tang for instance.

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

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

Other symptoms often associated with coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

Chest pain Fever Anxiety Coughing Focal distention of the chest Bitter taste in the mouth Asthma Chest fullness Insomnia Shortness of breath