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-Heat invading the Lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record four 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 four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause stuffy nose

In Chinese Medicine stuffy nose 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

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

Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) is the king ingredient for Jing Fang Bai Du San, a formula used for Wind-Cold

Wind-Cold

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

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

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

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

Five herbal formulas that might help with stuffy nose

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 blocked nose is a symptom.

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 blocked nose is a symptom.

Read more about Lian Po Yin 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 stuffy nose?

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

Read more about Jing Fang Bai Du 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 blocked nose is a symptom.

Read more about Ma Huang Tang here

Ge Gen Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior and muscle layer. Forms Body Fluids.

Why might Ge Gen Tang help with stuffy nose?

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

Read more about Ge Gen Tang here

Acupuncture points used for stuffy nose

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 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 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 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 Lung and the Stomach.

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 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

Why might Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with stuffy nose?

Because Cinnamon Twig is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat stuffy nose as a symptom, like Ma Huang Tang or Ge Gen 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