Pericardial effusion according to Chinese Medicine

Pericardial effusion 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 pericardial effusion 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 pericardial effusion is often associated with shortness of breath, palpitations and coughing in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-hypochondrium”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause pericardial effusion.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause pericardial effusion

In Chinese Medicine pericardial effusion 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.

Kansui Roots (Gan Sui) is the king ingredient for Shi Zao Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-hypochondrium

Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when Phlegm-Fluids clogs up the chest and hypochondriac regions, producing chest pain, cough and shortness of breath.

In addition to pericardial effusion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-hypochondrium include shortness of breath, palpitations and coughing.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-hypochondrium is often treated with Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Kansui Roots - Gan Sui - as a key herb). Shi Zao Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that drive out excess water", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/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 pericardial effusion, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm include vertigo.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Menopausal Syndrome or Morning Sickness.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/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

Five herbal formulas that might help with pericardial effusion

Shi Zao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids.

Why might Shi Zao Tang help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-in-the-hypochondrium' of which pericardial effusion is a symptom.

Read more about Shi Zao Tang here

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm' of which pericardial and pleural effusions is a symptom.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm' of which pericardial and pleural effusions is a symptom.

Read more about Liu Jun Zi 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 pericardial effusion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm' of which pericardial and pleural effusions is a symptom.

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 Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm' of which pericardial and pleural effusions is a symptom.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat pericardial effusion

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' (a pattern with pericardial effusion as a symptom)

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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' (a pattern with pericardial effusion as a symptom)

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Why might Jujube Date (Da Zao) help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium' (a pattern with pericardial effusion as a symptom)

Jujube Dates is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach Qi. Tonifies the Blood. Calms the Shen (spirit). Moderates the actions of other herbs in formula.

Read more about Jujube Dates here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with pericardial effusion?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' (a pattern with pericardial effusion as a symptom)

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 pericardial effusion?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' (a pattern with pericardial effusion as a symptom)

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