The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
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Difficulty swallowing 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 difficulty swallowing 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 difficulty swallowing is often associated with feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and irritability in the pattern “Qi-Phlegm”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause difficulty swallowing.
Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of difficulty swallowing we’ve identified two 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 difficulty swallowing.
In Chinese Medicine difficulty swallowing 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.
Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)
Tongue coating: Thick white coating
Also often called "plum-stone" or "plum-pit" syndrome, the main characteristic of Qi-Phlegm is a feeling of swelling in the throat and a swallowing difficulty. It typically originates from emotional problems and it appears and disappears according to mood swings.
In addition to difficulty swallowing, other symptoms associated with Qi-Phlegm include feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and irritability.
Qi-Phlegm is often treated with Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that promote qi movement", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm".
Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)
Tongue color: Red
Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.
Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 5 herbs
Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.
Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi-Phlegm' of which difficulty swallowing is a symptom.
Other symptoms characteristic of Qi-Phlegm include feeling of a lump in the throat which comes and goes, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and irritability.
Source date: 650 AD
Number of ingredients: 4 herbs
Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.
Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which difficulty swallowing is a symptom.
Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.
Its main actions are: Moves Rebellious Qi downward, dries Dampness and relieves Food Stagnation. Transforms Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Qi of the Lung.
Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.
Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat difficulty swallowing as can be seen on Amomum Fruit's page.
Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and transforms Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi for Damp and Stagnant conditions of the Stomach and Spleen. Settles a restless fetus and stops morning sickness. Prevents cloying and Stagnation sometimes caused by tonifying herbs.
Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat difficulty swallowing as can be seen on Ginseng Leaf's page.
Its main actions are: Tonifies the Qi and Lungs. Dispels Summer-Heat and engenders body Fluids.