Hoarse voice according to Chinese Medicine

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Hoarse voice 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 hoarse voice 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 hoarse voice is often associated with dry cough, dry throat and weak voice in the pattern “Lung Yin Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause hoarse voice.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of hoarse voice 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 hoarse voice.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause hoarse voice

In Chinese Medicine hoarse voice 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 Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Lung Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Exterior Heat and Dryness invades the Lungs and exhausts the Body Fluids. It eventually leads to Lung Yin Deficiency, if not intervened for a long time.

In addition to hoarse voice, other symptoms associated with Lung Yin Deficiency include dry cough, dry throat and weak voice.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Lung Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation.

Lung Yin Deficiency is often treated with Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Yin".

Read more about Lung Yin Deficiency here

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

Lung Dryness

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu)

In addition to hoarse voice, other symptoms associated with Lung Dryness include dry cough, dry throat and dry skin.

Lung Dryness is often treated with Bai He Gu Jin Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Lily Bulbs - Bai He - as a key herb). Bai He Gu Jin Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin".

Read more about Lung Dryness here

Three herbal formulas that might help with hoarse voice

Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Mai Men Dong Tang help with hoarse voice?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Yin Deficiency' of which hoarse voice is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Yin Deficiency include dry cough, dry throat and weak voice.

Read more about Mai Men Dong Tang here

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Why might Bai He Gu Jin Tang help with hoarse voice?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Dryness' of which hoarse voice is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Dryness include dry cough, dry throat and dry skin.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang here

Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang

Source date: the 18th century

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Improves throat. Resolves toxicity. Clears the Lungs.

Why might Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang help with hoarse voice?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung Yin Deficiency' of which hoarse voice is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung Yin Deficiency include dry cough, dry throat and weak voice.

Read more about Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang here

Acupuncture points used for hoarse voice

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat hoarse voice

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with hoarse voice?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hoarse voice as a symptom, like Mai Men Dong Tang or Yang Yin Qing Fei 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 Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with hoarse voice?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hoarse voice as a symptom, like Mai Men Dong Tang or Qing Zao Jiu Fei Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with hoarse voice?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hoarse voice as a symptom, like Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Dwarf Lilyturf Root (Mai Dong) help with hoarse voice?

Because Dwarf Lilyturf Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hoarse voice as a symptom, like Mai Men Dong Tang or Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang for instance.

Dwarf Lilyturf Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Replenishes Yin Essence and promotes secretions. Lubricates and nourishes the Stomach. Soothes the Lung. Nourishes the Heart.

Read more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots here

Why might Fritillary Bulb (Chuan Bei Mu) help with hoarse voice?

Because Fritillary Bulb is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat hoarse voice as a symptom, like Yang Yin Qing Fei Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang for instance.

Fritillary Bulbs is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Hot Phlegm and stops cough. Clears Lung Heat caused by Yin Deficiency. Clears Heat and reduces hard lumps and swellings.

Read more about Fritillary Bulbs here