Feeling of oppression of the chest according to Chinese Medicine

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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 depression, dizziness and nausea in the pattern “Phlegm”. As you will see below, we have in record four 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 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 feeling of oppression of the chest.

The four "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 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Phlegm

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include depression, dizziness and nausea.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menopausal Syndrome or Morning Sickness.

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 Phlegm here

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

Heart Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie)

Tongue color: Bluish-Purple

This is a severe pattern deriving from other Heart patterns such as Heart Yang or Blood Deficiency, or Heart Qi Stagnation. Prolonged emotional stress such as grief, worry, resentment, anxiety or anger can seriously harm the Heart's functions of controlling Blood and Blood vessels as well as housing the spiritual Mind.

In addition to feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Heart Blood Stagnation include palpitations, purple lips and purple nails.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Postpartum Depression.

Heart Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Peach Kernels - Tao Ren - as a key herb). Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Invigorates the Blood".

Read more about Heart Blood Stagnation 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 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

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

Heart Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Empty (Xu)

In addition to feeling of oppression of the chest, other symptoms associated with Heart Qi Stagnation include palpitations, depression and nausea.

Heart Qi Stagnation 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".

Read more about Heart Qi Stagnation here

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

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. 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' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates the Blood. Dispels blood Stagnation. Spreads the Liver Qi. Unblocks the channels.

Why might Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Blood Stagnation' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Read more about Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang here

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.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin 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.

Read more about San Zi Yang Qin Tang here

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.

Why might Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Qi Stagnation' of which feeling of oppression of the chest is a symptom.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

Acupuncture points used for feeling of oppression of the chest

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 Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Er Chen Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 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 Gui Zhu Gan Tang or Wu Ling San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

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 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 Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang or Wen Dan Tang for instance.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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 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 Er Chen Tang or Liu Jun Zi Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with feeling of oppression of the chest?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat feeling of oppression of the chest as a symptom, like Wan Dai Tang or Yue Ju Wan 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

Other symptoms often associated with feeling of oppression of the chest

Palpitations Red face Depression Dizziness Nausea Purple lips Chest pain Purple nails Feeling of heaviness Shortness of breath