Sneezing according to Chinese Medicine

Sneezing 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 sneezing 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 sneezing is often associated with runny nose, aversion to cold and occipital headaches in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-cold”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause sneezing.

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

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause sneezing

In Chinese Medicine sneezing 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 /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-cold

Greater Yang Attack of Cold

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

In addition to sneezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-cold include runny nose, aversion to cold and occipital headaches.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/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 /tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-heat

Wind-Heat

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

In addition to sneezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-heat include runny nose, fever and aversion to cold.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/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 /tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-cold

Damp-Cold

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

In addition to sneezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-cold include runny nose, fever and neck pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/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

Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) is the king ingredient for Gui Zhi Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-wind

Greater Yang Attack of Wind

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Floating (Fu)

In addition to sneezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-wind include occipital headaches, stiff neck and aversion to wind.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-wind is often treated with Gui Zhi Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Cinnamon Twigs - Gui Zhi - as a key herb). Gui Zhi 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 pathogens from the muscle layer".

Read more about Greater Yang Attack of Wind here

Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) is the king ingredient for Jing Fang Bai Du San, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-cold

Wind-Cold

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

In addition to sneezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-cold include runny nose, fever and aversion to cold.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/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

Five herbal formulas that might help with sneezing

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 sneezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-cold' of which sneezing 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 sneezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-heat' of which sneezing 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 sneezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-cold' of which sneezing is a symptom.

Read more about Wei Ling Tang here

Gui Zhi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Releases pathogens from the muscle layer. Regulates the Nutritive and Protective Qi.

Why might Gui Zhi Tang help with sneezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/greater-yang-attack-of-wind' of which sneezing is a symptom.

Read more about Gui Zhi 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 sneezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/wind-cold' of which sneezing is a symptom.

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du San here

Acupuncture points used for sneezing

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat sneezing

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with sneezing?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sneezing as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Gui Zhi 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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with sneezing?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sneezing as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Tang or Ma Huang Tang for instance.

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

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 Wild Mint (Bo He) help with sneezing?

Because Wild Mint is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sneezing 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with sneezing?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sneezing as a symptom, like Gui Zhi Tang or Ge Gen Tang for instance.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with sneezing?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sneezing as a symptom, like Wei Ling Tang or Jing Fang Bai Du San for instance.

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

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