Sticky taste in the mouth according to Chinese Medicine

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Sticky taste in the mouth 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 sticky taste in the mouth 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 sticky taste in the mouth is often associated with nausea, oily skin and fatigue in the pattern “Damp-Phlegm”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause sticky taste in the mouth.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of sticky taste in the mouth we’ve identified four 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 sticky taste in the mouth.

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause sticky taste in the mouth

In Chinese Medicine sticky taste in the mouth is a symptom for 4 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Damp-Phlegm

Damp-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

In addition to sticky taste in the mouth, other symptoms associated with Damp-Phlegm include nausea, oily skin and fatigue.

Damp-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 Damp-Phlegm here

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

Damp-Heat in the Stomach

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

In addition to sticky taste in the mouth, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Stomach include feeling of heaviness, nausea and dull-yellow complexion.

Damp-Heat in the Stomach is often treated with Lian Po Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Lian Po Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Stomach here

Korean Mint (Huo Xiang) is the king ingredient for Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, a formula used for Damp-Heat

Damp-Heat

Pulse type(s): Soggy (Ru)

In addition to sticky taste in the mouth, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat include feeling of heaviness, bitter taste in the mouth and fever.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Damp-Heat is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Intermenstrual Bleeding or Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Damp-Heat is often treated with Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San, a herbal formula made of 11 herbs (including Korean Mint - Huo Xiang - as a key herb). Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San belongs to the category of "formulas that transform dampness and harmonize stomach", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Damp-Heat here

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

Damp-Heat in the Liver

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

This pattern is caused by excessive Heat in the Liver and Dampness due to Spleen Deficiency. Dampness can cause the formation of Phlegm.  Patients often have a feeling of fullness. It is often caused by bad diet and lifestyle, hot and damp environment and emotional stress such as anger.

In addition to sticky taste in the mouth, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Liver include feeling of heaviness, nausea and bitter taste in the mouth.

Damp-Heat in the Liver is often treated with Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Chinese Gentian - Long Dan Cao - as a key herb). Long Dan Xie Gan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder".

Read more about Damp-Heat in the Liver here

Four herbal formulas that might help with sticky taste in the mouth

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 sticky taste in the mouth?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm' of which sticky taste in the mouth is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Phlegm include nausea, oily skin and fatigue.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Lian Po Yin

Source date: 1862 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Why might Lian Po Yin help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Stomach' of which sticky taste in the mouth is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Stomach include feeling of heaviness, nausea and dull-yellow complexion.

Read more about Lian Po Yin here

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Why might Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat' of which sticky taste in the mouth is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat include feeling of heaviness, bitter taste in the mouth and fever.

Read more about Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San here

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Why might Yin Chen Hao Tang help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat in the Liver' of which sticky taste in the mouth is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Liver include feeling of heaviness, nausea and bitter taste in the mouth.

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang here

Acupuncture points used for sticky taste in the mouth

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat sticky taste in the mouth

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sticky taste in the mouth as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Lian Po Yin for instance.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sticky taste in the mouth as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang 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

Why might Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sticky taste in the mouth as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San for instance.

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

Why might Houpu Magnolia Bark (Hou Pu) help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because Houpu Magnolia Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sticky taste in the mouth as a symptom, like Lian Po Yin or Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San for instance.

Houpu Magnolia Bark is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Moves Rebellious Qi downward, dries Dampness and relieves Food Stagnation. Transforms Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Qi of the Lung.

Read more about Houpu Magnolia Bark here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with sticky taste in the mouth?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat sticky taste in the mouth as a symptom, like Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang or Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San for instance.

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here