Feeling of oppression of the chest

TCM Education Center > Symptoms list > Feeling of oppression of the chest

Feeling of oppression of 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 oppression of 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 oppression of the chest is often associated with nausea, cold limbs and poor appetite in the pattern “Cold-Phlegm”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause feeling of oppression of the chest.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of feeling of oppression of the chest we’ve identified four 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 oppression of the chest.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause feeling of oppression of the chest

In Chinese Medicine feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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 feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Cold-Phlegm include nausea, cold limbs and poor appetite.

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

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, a formula used for Wind-Phlegm

Wind-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

Tongue shape: Deviated, Swollen

Wind-Phlegm is when Phlegm invades the Channels and sensory orifices, leading to such symptoms as dizziness, vertigo, or headache.

In addition to feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Wind-Phlegm include dizziness, aphasia and rattling sound in the throat.

Wind-Phlegm is often treated with Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that transform phlegm and extinguish wind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries and dissolves Phlegm".

Read more about Wind-Phlegm 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 feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Heat include nausea, red face and dry mouth.

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

Four herbal formulas that might help with feeling of oppression of the chest

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 feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold-Phlegm' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Cold-Phlegm include nausea, cold limbs and poor appetite.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang here

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Dries and dissolves Phlegm. Strengthens the Spleen. Smoothes the Liver and calms Liver Wind (antispasmodic).

Why might Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Phlegm' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Phlegm include dizziness, aphasia and rattling sound in the throat.

Read more about Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma 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 feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat include nausea, red face and dry mouth.

Read more about Wen Dan 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 feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Cold-Phlegm' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Cold-Phlegm include nausea, cold limbs and poor appetite.

Read more about San Zi Yang Qin Tang here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang or Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma 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 feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang or Wen Dan 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang or Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Tang 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 Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma 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 Perilla Seed (Zi Su Zi) help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because Perilla Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like San Zi Yang Qin Tang or Ding Chuan Tang for instance.

Perilla Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops coughing and wheezing, expels Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Lung Qi. Lubricates the Intestines.

Read more about Perilla Seeds here