Coughing of copious thin and white sputum

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Coughing of copious thin and white 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 thin and white 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 thin and white sputum is often associated with dizziness, feeling of oppression of the chest and coughing in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause coughing of copious thin and white sputum.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause coughing of copious thin and white sputum

In Chinese Medicine coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Xiao Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when, often due to a stagnant Qi, the Body Fluids are retained in the chest and Lungs.

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm include dizziness, feeling of oppression of the chest and coughing.

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm is often treated with Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Xiao Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Da Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Body Fluids stagnate in the four limbs instead of flowing in the body and getting released as sweat.

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs include feeling of heaviness, absence of sweating and swollen limbs.

Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs is often treated with Da Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Da Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes sweating".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Damp-Phlegm

Damp-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Damp-Phlegm include nausea, swollen limbs and oily skin.

Damp-Phlegm 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 here

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

Wind-Cold invading the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Tongue shape: Partially swollen

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold invading the Lungs include shortness of breath, fever and runny nose.

Wind-Cold invading the Lungs is often treated with Ma Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Ma Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases exterior cold".

Read more about Wind-Cold invading the Lungs here

The Triple Burner is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Triple Burner in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner include nausea, vomiting and stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium.

Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner is often treated with Liu Jun Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Liu Jun Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Qi".

Read more about Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner here

Five herbal formulas that might help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Transforms congested Fluids.

Why might Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids Above The Diaphragm include dizziness, feeling of oppression of the chest and coughing.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang here

Da Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Promotes sweating. Releases the Exterior. Clears Interior Heat.

Why might Da Qing Long Tang help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Limbs include feeling of heaviness, absence of sweating and swollen limbs.

Read more about Da Qing Long Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Dampness In The Middle-Burner include nausea, vomiting and stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi 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 thin and white sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Phlegm include nausea, swollen limbs and oily skin.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Ma Huang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Releases exterior cold. Treats wheezing.

Why might Ma Huang Tang help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Cold invading the Lungs' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Cold Invading The Lungs include shortness of breath, fever and runny nose.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum 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 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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Liu Jun Zi 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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom, like Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Wu Ling San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here