Stuffy nose according to Chinese Medicine

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Stuffy 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 stuffy 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 stuffy nose is often associated with headaches, aversion to cold and fever in the pattern “Wind-Cold invading the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause stuffy nose.

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

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

In Chinese Medicine stuffy 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.

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 stuffy nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Cold invading the Lungs include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

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

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 stuffy nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

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

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

Wind-Heat invading the Lungs

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

In addition to stuffy nose, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat invading the Lungs include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

Wind-Heat invading the Lungs 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 invading the Lungs 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 stuffy nose, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat in the Stomach include epigastric pain, epigastrium fullness and feeling of heaviness.

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

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

Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

In addition to stuffy nose, other symptoms associated with Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs include headaches, dry throat and phlegm.

Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs 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 Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs here

Five herbal formulas that might help with stuffy nose

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 stuffy nose?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Exterior Dry Cold invading the Lungs' of which stuffy nose is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Exterior Dry Cold Invading The Lungs include headaches, dry throat and phlegm.

Read more about Xing Su San here

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 stuffy nose?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Cold Invading The Lungs include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

Sang Ju Yin

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Wind. Stops coughing by invigorating Lung Qi. Clears Heat.

Why might Sang Ju Yin help with stuffy nose?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

Read more about Sang Ju Yin 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 stuffy nose?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat Invading The Lungs include headaches, aversion to cold and fever.

Read more about Yin Qiao San 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 stuffy nose?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Damp-Heat In The Stomach include epigastric pain, epigastrium fullness and feeling of heaviness.

Read more about Lian Po Yin here

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

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

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stuffy 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 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 Common Reed Rhizome (Lu Gen) help with stuffy nose?

Because Common Reed Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stuffy nose as a symptom, like Lian Po Yin or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Common Reed Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and promotes the generation of Fluids. Dispels Lung Heat. Dispels Stomach Heat. Promotes urination and clears Heat in the urinary tract. Calm the minds and stop vomiting.

Read more about Common Reed Rhizomes here

Why might Wild Mint (Bo He) help with stuffy nose?

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

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stuffy nose as a symptom, like Ge Gen Tang or Jing Fang Bai Du San 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

Why might Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with stuffy nose?

Because Forsythia Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stuffy nose as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Forsythia Fruits is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.

Read more about Forsythia Fruits here