Wheezing according to Chinese Medicine

Wheezing 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 wheezing 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 wheezing is often associated with coughing, asthma and stifling sensation in the chest in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm-in-the-lungs”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause wheezing.

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

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause wheezing

In Chinese Medicine wheezing is a symptom for 3 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

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Soggy (Ru)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Phlegm in the Lungs (a synonym for "Substantial Phlegm") is the sputum that collects in the Lungs and is spat out during bronchitis or other Lung diseases.

In addition to wheezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm-in-the-lungs include coughing, asthma and stifling sensation in the chest.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm-in-the-lungs is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs here

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

Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Fine (Xi)

In addition to wheezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/dry-phlegm-in-the-lungs include stifling sensation in the chest, shortness of breath and dizziness.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/dry-phlegm-in-the-lungs is often treated with Bei Mu Gua Lou San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Fritillary Bulbs - Chuan Bei Mu - as a key herb). Bei Mu Gua Lou San belongs to the category of "formulas that dispel phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Moistens the Lungs".

Read more about Dry-Phlegm in the Lungs here

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

Lung Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Slow (Chi), Slowed-down (Huan), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to wheezing, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency include shortness of breath, fatigue and pale complexion.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency is often treated with Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang, a herbal formula made of 2 herbs (including Dried Ginger - Gan Jiang - as a key herb). Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm interior cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Lungs".

Read more about Lung Yang Deficiency here

Five herbal formulas that might help with wheezing

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/damp-phlegm-in-the-lungs' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Bei Mu Gua Lou San

Source date: 1732 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Moistens the Lungs. Clears Heat. Regulates Qi. Resolve Phlegm.

Why might Bei Mu Gua Lou San help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/dry-phlegm-in-the-lungs' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Read more about Bei Mu Gua Lou San here

Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Strengthens the Stomach.

Why might Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Read more about Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang here

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Sheng Mai San

Source date: Yuan Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Augments Qi. Supplies the Yin. Stops excessive sweating. Generates Body Fluids.

Why might Sheng Mai San help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/lung-yang-deficiency' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Read more about Sheng Mai San here

Acupuncture points used for wheezing

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat wheezing

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

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Lung Yang Deficiency' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

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 Tangerine Peel (Chen Pi) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

Tangerine Peel is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and regulates the Middle Burner Qi. Dries Dampness and disperses Phlegm from the Lungs and Middle Burner. Reduces the potential for Stagnation caused by tonifying herbs.

Read more about Tangerine Peel here

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

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' (a pattern with wheezing 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 Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

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