Swollen tonsils according to Chinese Medicine

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Swollen tonsils 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 swollen tonsils 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 swollen tonsils is often associated with fever, sore throat and dark urine in the pattern “Toxic-Heat”. As you will see below, we have in record four patterns that can cause swollen tonsils.

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

The four "patterns of disharmony" that can cause swollen tonsils

In Chinese Medicine swollen tonsils 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.

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Toxic-Heat

Toxic-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

In addition to swollen tonsils, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

Toxic-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 Toxic-Heat 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 swollen tonsils, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat include fever, sore throat and coughing.

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 swollen tonsils, other symptoms associated with Wind-Heat invading the Lungs include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

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

Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian) is the king ingredient for Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a formula used for Toxic-Heat Stagnation

Toxic-Heat Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

In addition to swollen tonsils, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat Stagnation include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

Toxic-Heat Stagnation is often treated with Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Huang Lian Jie Du Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and resolve toxicity", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Drains Fire".

Read more about Toxic-Heat Stagnation here

Four herbal formulas that might help with swollen tonsils

Bai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Clears Qi-level Heat. Drains Stomach Fire. Generates fluids. Alleviates thirst.

Why might Bai Hu Tang help with swollen tonsils?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which swollen tonsils is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

Read more about Bai Hu 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 swollen tonsils?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat include fever, sore throat and coughing.

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 swollen tonsils?

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

Other symptoms characteristic of Wind-Heat Invading The Lungs include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

Read more about Yin Qiao San here

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxin.

Why might Huang Lian Jie Du Tang help with swollen tonsils?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat Stagnation' of which swollen tonsils is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Toxic-Heat Stagnation include fever, sore throat and dark urine.

Read more about Huang Lian Jie Du Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat swollen tonsils

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with swollen tonsils?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swollen tonsils as a symptom, like Bai Hu Tang or Sang Ju Yin 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 Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with swollen tonsils?

Because Forsythia Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swollen tonsils 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 Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with swollen tonsils?

Because Unprepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swollen tonsils as a symptom, like Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang or Qing Ying Tang for instance.

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with swollen tonsils?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swollen tonsils as a symptom, like Long Dan Xie Gan Tang or Huang Lian Jie Du Tang for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here

Why might Water Buffalo Horn (Shui Niu Jiao) help with swollen tonsils?

Because Water Buffalo Horn is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swollen tonsils as a symptom, like Qing Ying Tang or Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang for instance.

Water Buffalo Horns is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Salty. It targets the Stomach, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, drains Fire and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears Heat and Fire and stops tremors and convulsions. Cools Fire and expels toxins.

Read more about Water Buffalo Horns here