Scanty sputum according to Chinese Medicine

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Scanty sputum 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 scanty sputum 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 scanty sputum is often associated with dry throat, dry nose and fever in the pattern “Dry-Cold”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause scanty sputum.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of scanty sputum we’ve identified two 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 scanty sputum.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause scanty sputum

In Chinese Medicine scanty sputum 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.

Apricot Seeds (Xing Ren) is the king ingredient for Xing Su San, a formula used for Dry-Cold

Dry-Cold

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

In addition to scanty sputum, other symptoms associated with Dry-Cold include dry throat, dry nose and fever.

Dry-Cold is often treated with Xing Su San, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Apricot Seeds - Xing Ren - as a key herb). Xing Su San belongs to the category of "formulas that disperse dryness and moisten", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Dry-Cold".

Read more about Dry-Cold here

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

Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Fine (Xi)

In addition to scanty sputum, other symptoms associated with Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs include dry throat, dry cough and shortness of breath.

Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs is often treated with Bei Mu Gua Lou San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Fritillary Bulbs - Chuan Bei Mu - as a key herb). Bei Mu Gua Lou San belongs to the category of "formulas that dispel phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Moistens the Lungs".

Read more about Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs here

Two herbal formulas that might help with scanty sputum

Xing Su San

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Clears Dry-Cold. Disseminates the Lung Qi and relieves cough. Transforms thin mucus.

Why might Xing Su San help with scanty sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Dry-Cold' of which scanty sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Dry-Cold include dry throat, dry nose and fever.

Read more about Xing Su San here

Bei Mu Gua Lou San

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Moistens the Lungs. Clears Heat. Regulates Qi. Resolve Phlegm.

Why might Bei Mu Gua Lou San help with scanty sputum?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs' of which scanty sputum is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Dry-Phlegm In The Lungs include dry throat, dry cough and shortness of breath.

Read more about Bei Mu Gua Lou San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat scanty sputum

Why might Platycodon Root (Jie Geng) help with scanty sputum?

Because Platycodon Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty sputum as a symptom, like Xing Su San or Bei Mu Gua Lou San 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with scanty sputum?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat scanty sputum as a symptom, like Bei Mu Gua Lou San or Xing Su San for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Fritillary Bulb (Chuan Bei Mu) help with scanty sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Bei Mu Gua Lou San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs' (a pattern with scanty sputum as a symptom)

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

Why might Apricot Seed (Xing Ren) help with scanty sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Xing Su San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Dry-Cold' (a pattern with scanty sputum as a symptom)

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 Perilla Leaf (Zi Su Ye) help with scanty sputum?

Because it is a key herb in Xing Su San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Dry-Cold' (a pattern with scanty sputum as a symptom)

Perilla Leaves is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Promotes the circulation of Spleen and Stomach Qi. Calms a restless fetus. Detoxifies seafood poisoning

Read more about Perilla Leaves here