Stifling sensation in the chest

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Stifling sensation in the chest 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 stifling sensation in the chest 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 stifling sensation in the chest is often associated with shortness of breath, wheezing and dizziness in the pattern “Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause stifling sensation in the chest.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of stifling sensation in the chest 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 stifling sensation in the chest.

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause stifling sensation in the chest

In Chinese Medicine stifling sensation in the chest 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.

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

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Phlegm in the Lungs (a synonym for "Substantial Phlegm") is the sputum that collects in the Lungs and is spat out during bronchitis or other Lung diseases.

In addition to stifling sensation in the chest, other symptoms associated with Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs include shortness of breath, wheezing and dizziness.

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs 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 in the Lungs here

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

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

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

In addition to stifling sensation in the chest, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs include shortness of breath, wheezing and dizziness.

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs is often treated with Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Wen Dan 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: "Clears Hot-Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs here

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

Pericardium Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Empty (Xu)

In addition to stifling sensation in the chest, other symptoms associated with Pericardium Qi Stagnation include shortness of breath, chest fullness and palpitations.

Pericardium Qi Stagnation is often treated with Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that promote qi movement", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm".

Read more about Pericardium Qi Stagnation here

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

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to stifling sensation in the chest, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include irritability, alternating fever and chills and headaches.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

Liver Qi Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Four herbal formulas that might help with stifling sensation in the chest

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 stifling sensation in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' of which stifling sensation in the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Phlegm In The Lungs include shortness of breath, wheezing and dizziness.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Invigorates Lung Qi. Clears Heat. Calms wheezing by directing rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs' of which stifling sensation in the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat In The Lungs include shortness of breath, wheezing and dizziness.

Read more about Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang here

Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the flow of Qi, treats esophageal spasm. Clears Phlegm.

Why might Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Pericardium Qi Stagnation' of which stifling sensation in the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Pericardium Qi Stagnation include shortness of breath, chest fullness and palpitations.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which stifling sensation in the chest is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation include irritability, alternating fever and chills and headaches.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat stifling sensation in the chest

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stifling sensation in the chest as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stifling sensation in the chest as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang 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 Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because Crow-Dipper Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stifling sensation in the chest as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang for instance.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

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 stifling sensation in the chest?

Because Tangerine Peel is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stifling sensation in the chest as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Wen Dan Tang for instance.

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Lung.

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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with stifling sensation in the chest?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stifling sensation in the chest as a symptom, like Er Chen Tang or Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang for instance.

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

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