Runny nose according to Chinese Medicine

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Runny nose 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 runny nose 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 runny nose is often associated with sneezing, aversion to cold and occipital headaches in the pattern “Greater Yang Attack of Cold”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause runny nose.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause runny nose

In Chinese Medicine runny nose is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Ma Huang Tang, a formula used for Greater Yang Attack of Cold

Greater Yang Attack of Cold

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

In addition to runny nose, other symptoms associated with Greater Yang Attack of Cold include sneezing, aversion to cold and occipital headaches.

Greater Yang Attack of Cold 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 Greater Yang Attack of 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 runny nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat include sneezing, fever 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

Water Plantain (Ze Xie) is the king ingredient for Wei Ling Tang, a formula used for Damp-Cold

Damp-Cold

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slippery (Hua), Slow (Chi), Soggy (Ru)

In addition to runny nose, other symptoms associated with Damp-Cold include sneezing, fever and neck pain.

Damp-Cold is often treated with Wei Ling Tang, a herbal formula made of 9 herbs (including Water Plantain - Ze Xie - as a key herb). Wei Ling Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Promotes urination".

Read more about Damp-Cold 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 runny nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold include sneezing, fever and aversion to cold.

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

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 runny nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold invading the Lungs include sneezing, fever 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

Five herbal formulas that might help with runny nose

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 runny nose?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Greater Yang Attack of Cold' of which runny nose is a symptom.

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 runny nose?

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

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

Wei Ling Tang

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Promotes urination. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Drains Dampness. Promotes the movement of Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wei Ling Tang help with runny nose?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Cold' of which runny nose is a symptom.

Read more about Wei Ling 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 runny nose?

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

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du 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 runny nose?

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

Read more about Ge Gen Tang here

Acupuncture points used for runny nose

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat runny nose

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with runny nose?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat runny nose 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 Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) help with runny nose?

Because Japanese Catnip is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat runny nose as a symptom, like Jing Fang Bai Du San or Jing Jie Lian Qiao Tang 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

Why might Platycodon Root (Jie Geng) help with runny nose?

Because Platycodon Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat runny nose 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 Wild Mint (Bo He) help with runny nose?

Because Wild Mint is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat runny nose 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 Fermented Soybean (Dan Dou Chi) help with runny nose?

Because Fermented Soybean is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat runny nose as a symptom, like Cong Chi Tang or Huo Ren Cong Shi Tang for instance.

Fermented Soybeans is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and scatters Wind, Cold and Heat, especially when there is Yin Deficiency. Relieves stuffy sensation in the chest and irritability.

Read more about Fermented Soybeans here