Throat lumps according to Chinese Medicine

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Throat lumps 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 throat lumps 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 throat lumps is often associated with frequent sighing, depression and irritability in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause throat lumps.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of throat lumps we’ve identified three 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 throat lumps.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause throat lumps

In Chinese Medicine throat lumps is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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 throat lumps, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include frequent sighing, depression and irritability.

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

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

Heart Qi Stagnation

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

In addition to throat lumps, other symptoms associated with Heart Qi Stagnation include frequent sighing, depression and shortness of breath.

Heart 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 Heart Qi Stagnation here

Three herbal formulas that might help with throat lumps

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 throat lumps?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which throat lumps is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation include frequent sighing, depression and irritability.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 throat lumps?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Qi Stagnation' of which throat lumps is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Qi Stagnation include frequent sighing, depression and shortness of breath.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with throat lumps?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which throat lumps is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Qi Stagnation include frequent sighing, depression and irritability.

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat throat lumps

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with throat lumps?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat throat lumps as a symptom, like Jia Wei Xiao Yao San or Xiao Yao San for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with throat lumps?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat throat lumps as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Xiao Yao 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

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with throat lumps?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat throat lumps as a symptom, like Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with throat lumps?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat throat lumps as a symptom, like Yue Ju Wan or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with throat lumps?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat throat lumps as a symptom, like Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang or Jia Wei Xiao Yao 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