Itchy throat according to Chinese Medicine

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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 headaches, chills and aversion to cold in the pattern “Wind-Cold invading the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record two 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 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 itchy throat.

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

In Chinese Medicine itchy throat 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

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 headaches, chills and aversion to cold.

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

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 headaches, chills and aversion to cold.

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

Three 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.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Cold Invading The Lungs include headaches, chills and aversion to cold.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang 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.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat include headaches, chills and aversion to cold.

Read more about Yin Qiao San 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.

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Cold Invading The Lungs include headaches, chills and aversion to cold.

Read more about Ge Gen Tang 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 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 Platycodon Root (Jie Geng) help with itchy throat?

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

Platycodon Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Opens the Lungs and smoothes the flow of Lung Qi. Expels Phlegm and pus from the Lungs and throat, can be used for either Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat according to the other herbs in the formula. Directs the actions of other herbs to the Upper Warmer.

Read more about Platycodon Roots 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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with itchy throat?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat itchy throat as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Ge Gen Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

Why might Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with itchy throat?

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

Forsythia Fruits is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.

Read more about Forsythia Fruits here