Itchy throat according to Chinese Medicine

Itchy throat 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 itchy throat 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 itchy throat is often associated with aversion to cold, fever and headaches in the pattern “Wind-Cold invading the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause itchy throat.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause itchy throat

In Chinese Medicine itchy throat 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.

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

Wind-Cold invading the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

Tongue shape: Partially swollen

In addition to itchy throat, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold invading the Lungs include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Wind-Cold invading the Lungs is often treated with Ma Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Ma Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases exterior cold".

Read more about Wind-Cold invading the Lungs here

Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) is the king ingredient for Jing Fang Bai Du San, a formula used for Wind-Cold

Wind-Cold

Pulse type(s): Tight (Jin), Floating (Fu)

In addition to itchy throat, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Wind-Cold is often treated with Jing Fang Bai Du San, a herbal formula made of 13 herbs (including Japanese Catnip - Jing Jie - as a key herb). Jing Fang Bai Du San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Wind-Cold here

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Wind-Heat

Wind-Heat

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

In addition to itchy throat, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat include aversion to cold, fever and headaches.

Wind-Heat is often treated with Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Yin Qiao San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Wind Heat".

Read more about Wind-Heat here

Five herbal formulas that might help with itchy throat

Ma Huang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Releases exterior cold. Treats wheezing.

Why might Ma Huang Tang help with itchy throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Cold invading the Lungs' of which itchy throat is a symptom.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

Ge Gen Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior and muscle layer. Forms Body Fluids.

Why might Ge Gen Tang help with itchy throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Cold invading the Lungs' of which itchy throat is a symptom.

Read more about Ge Gen Tang here

Jing Fang Bai Du San

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 13 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Dispels Wind and Dampness. Augments Qi.

Why might Jing Fang Bai Du San help with itchy throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Cold' of which itchy throat is a symptom.

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du San here

Yin Qiao San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind Heat. Clears Heat. Resolves Toxicity.

Why might Yin Qiao San help with itchy throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Heat' of which itchy throat is a symptom.

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Why might Sang Ju Yin help with itchy throat?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Wind-Heat' of which itchy throat is a symptom.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat itchy throat

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with itchy throat?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Ge Gen 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 Wild Mint (Bo He) help with itchy throat?

Because Wild Mint is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Sang Ju Yin or Yin Qiao San for instance.

Wild Mint is a Cool herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Wind-Heat. Clears Wind-Heat from the head, eyes and throat. Allows the release of toxins from the skin. Moves Stagnant Liver Qi

Read more about Wild Mint here

Why might Common Reed Rhizome (Lu Gen) help with itchy throat?

Because Common Reed Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Sang Ju Yin or Yin Qiao San for instance.

Common Reed Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and promotes the generation of Fluids. Dispels Lung Heat. Dispels Stomach Heat. Promotes urination and clears Heat in the urinary tract. Calm the minds and stop vomiting.

Read more about Common Reed Rhizomes here

Why might Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) help with itchy throat?

Because Apricot Seed is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Apricot Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops cough and wheezing caused by either Heat or Cold. Lubricates the Intestines and relieves constipation.

Read more about Apricot Seeds here

Why might Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) help with itchy throat?

Because Japanese Catnip is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Jing Fang Bai Du San or Yin Qiao San for instance.

Japanese Catnip is a Neutral herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold or Heat depending on the other herbs used. Releases the Exterior for measles. Stops bleeding. Abates swellings.

Read more about Japanese Catnip here