Tonsillitis according to Chinese Medicine

chronic tonsillitis, purulent tonsillitis redirect here

Tonsillitis 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 tonsillitis 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 tonsillitis is often associated with difficulty swallowing, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and depression in the pattern “Qi-Phlegm”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause tonsillitis.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause tonsillitis

In Chinese Medicine tonsillitis 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.

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a formula used for Qi-Phlegm

Qi-Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Also often called "plum-stone" or "plum-pit" syndrome, the main characteristic of Qi-Phlegm is a feeling of swelling in the throat and a swallowing difficulty. It typically originates from emotional problems and it appears and disappears according to mood swings.

In addition to tonsillitis, other symptoms associated with Qi-Phlegm include difficulty swallowing, stuffiness of chest and diaphragm and depression.

Qi-Phlegm 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 Qi-Phlegm here

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

Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness.

In addition to tonsillitis, other symptoms associated with Kidney Yang Deficiency include coughing, dizziness and abdominal pain.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Kidney Yang Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Late Menstruation, Menopausal Syndrome or Irregular Menstruation.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Kidney Yang Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with tonsillitis

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 tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi-Phlegm' of which tonsillitis is a symptom.

Read more about Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang here

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Why might Ba Wei Di Huang Wan help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which chronic tonsillitis is a symptom.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan here

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which chronic tonsillitis is a symptom.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Er Xian Tang

Source date: 1950 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys. Clears Empty Heat. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels.

Why might Er Xian Tang help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which chronic tonsillitis is a symptom.

Read more about Er Xian Tang here

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Why might Shen Qi Wan help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' of which chronic tonsillitis is a symptom.

Read more about Shen Qi Wan here

Acupuncture points used for tonsillitis

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat tonsillitis

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a key herb in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with tonsillitis as a symptom)

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Mudan Peony Bark (Mu Dan Pi) help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a key herb in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with tonsillitis as a symptom)

Mudan Peony Bark is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Cools the Blood, activates Blood circulation and resolves Blood stasis.

Read more about Mudan Peony Bark here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a key herb in Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Qi-Phlegm' (a pattern with tonsillitis as a symptom)

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

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 Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a key herb in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with tonsillitis as a symptom)

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with tonsillitis?

Because it is a key herb in Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidney Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with tonsillitis as a symptom)

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here