Wheezing according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Wheezing

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 alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating and stifling sensation in the chest in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm”. As you will see below, we have in record two 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 two 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 two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause wheezing

In Chinese Medicine wheezing 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.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Xiao Qing Long Tang, a formula used for Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when, often due to a stagnant Qi, the Body Fluids are retained in the chest and Lungs.

In addition to wheezing, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm include alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating and stifling sensation in the chest.

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm is often treated with Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Xiao Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

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

Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Fine (Xi)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to wheezing, other symptoms associated with Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire include coughing with blood-streaked sputum, dry throat and hot palms and soles.

Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire is often treated with Bai He Gu Jin Tang, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Lily Bulbs - Bai He - as a key herb). Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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: "Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin".

Read more about Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire here

Two herbal formulas that might help with wheezing

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids Above The Diaphragm include alternating fever and chills, absence of sweating and stifling sensation in the chest.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Bai He Gu Jin Tang

Source date: 1573 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Lung and Kidney Yin. Lubricates the Lung and clears phlegm.

Why might Bai He Gu Jin Tang help with wheezing?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire' of which wheezing is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Lung And Kidney Yin Deficiency With Empty Fire include coughing with blood-streaked sputum, dry throat and hot palms and soles.

Read more about Bai He Gu Jin Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat wheezing

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

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat wheezing as a symptom, like Xiao Qing Long Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with wheezing?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat wheezing as a symptom, like Xiao Qing Long Tang or Bai He Gu Jin Tang 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 Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Bai He Gu Jin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Lung and Kidney Yin Deficiency with Empty Fire' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

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 Cinnamon Twig (Gui Zhi) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

Cinnamon Twigs is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Adjusts the nutritive Ying and defensive Wei Qi. Relieves the Exterior through sweating. Warms and disperses Cold. Removes obstruction of Yang. Promotes the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest. Regulates and moves blood.

Read more about Cinnamon Twigs here

Why might Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with wheezing?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' (a pattern with wheezing as a symptom)

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here