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 absence of sweating, feeling of heaviness and irritability in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids in the limbs”. 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 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 absence of sweating, feeling of heaviness and irritability.

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

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 absence of sweating, general sensation of heaviness and dizziness.

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

Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) is the king ingredient for Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a formula used for Cold-Phlegm

Cold-Phlegm

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

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when a Fire Deficiency of the Gate of Life (Ming Men), which is the source of warmth for all physiological processes, inhibits the Spleen's ability to transform and transport the Body Fluids, which accumulate and become Phlegm and thin mucus.

In addition to coughing of copious thin and white sputum, other symptoms associated with Cold-Phlegm include nausea, poor appetite and feeling of oppression of the chest.

Cold-Phlegm is often treated with Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform phlegm-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Lungs".

Read more about Cold-Phlegm 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

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

Damp-Cold Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

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

Damp-Cold 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-Cold Phlegm here

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

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 absence of sweating, feeling of heaviness and irritability.

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

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao 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 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 absence of sweating, general sensation of heaviness and dizziness.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long 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-Cold Phlegm' of which coughing of copious thin and white sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Cold Phlegm include nausea, vomiting and stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

San Zi Yang Qin Tang

Source date: 1856 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Directs the Qi downward. Transforms Phlegm. Reduces harbored food.

Why might San Zi Yang Qin Tang help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Cold-Phlegm include nausea, poor appetite and feeling of oppression of the chest.

Read more about San Zi Yang Qin 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 Da Qing Long Tang or 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 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 Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because Ephedra is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom, like Da Qing Long Tang or Xiao Qing Long Tang for instance.

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra 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 Xiao Qing Long Tang or Da Qing Long 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 White Mustard Seeds (Bai Jie Zi) help with coughing of copious thin and white sputum?

Because it is a key herb in San Zi Yang Qin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Cold-Phlegm' (a pattern with coughing of copious thin and white sputum as a symptom)

White Mustard Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Warms the lungs. Eliminates Phlegm and regulated Qi. Dissipates nodules and unblocks the Meridians to relieve pain.

Read more about White Mustard Seeds here