Feeling of fullness in the chest

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Feeling of fullness in the chest

Feeling of fullness in the chest 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 feeling of fullness in the chest 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 feeling of fullness in the chest is often associated with vomiting of watery fluids, splashing sound in the stomach and loose stools in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause feeling of fullness in the chest.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of feeling of fullness in the chest 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 feeling of fullness in the chest.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause feeling of fullness in the chest

In Chinese Medicine feeling of fullness in the chest 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 Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

When the transportative and transformative functions of the Middle-Burner are damaged (often by Cold), Phlegm-Fluids accumulate in the Stomach and epigastric area. This leads to the symptoms such as the vomiting of watery fluids or splashing sounds in the stomach.

In addition to feeling of fullness in the chest, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine include vomiting of watery fluids, splashing sound in the stomach and loose stools.

Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine is often treated with Xiao Chai Hu Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Chai Hu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer)".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to feeling of fullness in the chest, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include dizziness, depression and insomnia.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Three herbal formulas that might help with feeling of fullness in the chest

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids In the Stomach and Small intestine' of which feeling of fullness in the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Stomach And Small Intestine include vomiting of watery fluids, splashing sound in the stomach and loose stools.

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which feeling of fullness in the chest is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Tao Hong Si Wu Tang

Source date: 1291 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Blood and regulates the Liver. Moves Qi and Blood in the lower abdomen. Stops pain.

Why might Tao Hong Si Wu Tang help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which feeling of fullness in the chest is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Absence Of Menstruation.

Read more about Tao Hong Si Wu Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat feeling of fullness in the chest

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of fullness in the chest as a symptom, like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of fullness in the chest as a symptom, like Tao Hong Si Wu Tang or Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Szechuan Lovage Root (Chuan Xiong) help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because Szechuan Lovage Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of fullness in the chest as a symptom, like Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang or Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang for instance.

Szechuan Lovage Roots is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Gallbladder, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Regulates and moves the Blood. Relieves Wind-Cold and pain. Circulates the Qi in the Upper Burner, relieving headaches.

Read more about Szechuan Lovage Roots here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of fullness in the chest as a symptom, like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Ban Xia Xie Xin 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with feeling of fullness in the chest?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of fullness in the chest as a symptom, like Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Conditions associated with feeling of fullness in the chest

Absence of menstruation

Other symptoms often associated with feeling of fullness in the chest

Dizziness Depression Fatigue Dry mouth Night sweats Insomnia Lower back pain Low energy Dark face Dry throat