Weak breath according to Chinese Medicine

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Weak breath 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 weak breath 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 weak breath is often associated with shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and chronic cough in the pattern “Kidneys failing to receive Qi”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause weak breath.

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

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause weak breath

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

Kidneys failing to receive Qi

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Tight (Jin), Weak (Ruo)

In addition to weak breath, other symptoms associated with Kidneys failing to receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and chronic cough.

Kidneys failing to receive Qi is often treated with You Gui Wan, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). You Gui Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that warm yang and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang".

Read more about Kidneys failing to receive Qi here

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

Heart Yang Collapsing

Pulse type(s): Knotted (Jie), Minute (Wei), Hidden (Fu)

In addition to weak breath, other symptoms associated with Heart Yang Collapsing include pale complexion, coma and palpitations.

Heart Yang Collapsing is often treated with Shen Fu Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Ginseng - Ren Shen - as a key herb). Shen Fu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that rescue devastated yang", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores Yang".

Read more about Heart Yang Collapsing here

Three herbal formulas that might help with weak breath

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 weak breath?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' of which weak breath is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys Failing To Receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and chronic cough.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Shen Fu Tang

Source date: 1445 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Restores Yang. Strongly tonifies the source Qi. Saves Qi from collapsing due to devastated Yang.

Why might Shen Fu Tang help with weak breath?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Yang Collapsing' of which weak breath is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Yang Collapsing include pale complexion, coma and palpitations.

Read more about Shen Fu Tang here

Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Directs rebellious Qi downward. Arrests wheezing. Stops coughing. Warms and transforms Phlegm-Cold.

Why might Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang help with weak breath?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' of which weak breath is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Kidneys Failing To Receive Qi include shortness of breath on exertion, rapid breath and chronic cough.

Read more about Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat weak breath

Why might Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) help with weak breath?

Because Cinnamon Bark is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak breath as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang for instance.

Cinnamon Bark is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and Kidneys and tonifies the Yang. Expels Cold, Warms the meridians, promotes circulation of Qi and Blood and relieves pain. Used with tonics to assist in the generation of Qi and Blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Bark here

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with weak breath?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak breath as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Shen Fu Tang for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with weak breath?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat weak breath as a symptom, like Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang or You Gui Wan for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with weak breath?

Because it is a key herb in Shen Fu Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Heart Yang Collapsing' (a pattern with weak breath as a symptom)

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Why might Perilla Seed (Zi Su Zi) help with weak breath?

Because it is a key herb in Su Zi Jiang Qi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Kidneys failing to receive Qi' (a pattern with weak breath as a symptom)

Perilla Seeds is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung.

Its main actions are: Stops coughing and wheezing, expels Phlegm and redirects Rebellious Lung Qi. Lubricates the Intestines.

Read more about Perilla Seeds here