The treatment of cough and
phlegm by Chinese medicine
Here we are going to talk about the
treatment of cough and phlegm by Chinese herbal therapy,
acupuncture and cupping. The reasons for the cough and phlegm
could be due to either pharyngitis, bronchitis, or pneumonia, or
Upon the treatment of the cough, we need to
make it clear if it is acute cough or chronic cough, and if it
comes with phlegm or only a dry cough per se.
Acute cough with phlegm:
For acute cough, if the patient has
symptoms of common cold, such as chilly, or fever, headache,
pain on the body and joints, stiff nose, sneeze, water-running
nose, sour throat, etc., and if the patient if strong in the
body constitution and has no sweat now, we use herbal formula Ma
Huang Tang. This is a Wind-Cold type of common cold, and further
more it belongs to body suffice sufficient sub-type of the
common cold. In this case, if the cough is the most symptom,
other symptoms are not strong, we can use more simply formula
called San Ao Tang.
If the patient has those symptoms, but the
body constitution is weak, or if the patient has sweat, it
belongs to body surface insufficient subtype of Wind-Cold common
cold. We use Gui Zhi Tang. In this case, if there is dry mouth
and anxiety, use Gui Zhi Tang jia Shi Gao.
If it is hard to tell if the common cold
belongs to body surface sufficient or insufficient subtype, we
can use half Ma Huang Tang and half Gui Zhi Tang, or use Ren
Shen Bai Du San, or Jing Fang Bai Du San.
If the cough is with lots of water-like
clear phlegm, or water-like clear running nose or tear, we use
Xiao Qing Long Tang. If these patients also feel dry mouth of
anxiety, we use Xiao Qing Long Tang jia Shi Gao.
If there are cough and fever, and if the
patient feel very anxiety and dry mouth, we use Da Qing Long
If the cough is with short of breath or
asthma, use Ma Huang Tang (if the body constitution is strong
and the person has no sweat); or Gui Zhi Jia Hou Pu Xing Zi Tang
(if the body is weak and has sweat); or Ma Xing Shi Gang Tang
(if there is dry mouth, chest tightness, slight sweat, and
anxiety), or Da Qing Long Tang (if the body is strong, with or
without sweat, but more anxiety).
If the patient has cough, fever, and also
some times has fever and some other times has chilly, nausea,
bloating feeling in the upper stomach, dizziness, bitter taste
and dry feeling in mouth, or block feeling inside the ears, we
use Xiao Chai Hu Tang.
If the cough is with phlegm, and the phlegm
is difficult to spit out (no matter what color the phlegm is),
and if the patient likes to drink cold water and has
constipation, or has a long history of cigarette smoking or
alcohol drinking, we use Gua Lu Zhi Shi Tang to clear the phlegm
and to stop the cough.
Acute cough without phlegm:
If it is mostly dry cough, almost no any
phlegm, and if the cough is worse in the early morning, we use
Gua Lu Zhi Shi Tang. This formula is also used if the phlegm is
very difficult to spit out.
If the body is usually weak, and there are
lots of cough after the common cold, the cough is paroxysmal and
stimulating one, we use Bai He Gu Jin Tang.
If the cough is due to the tingling from
throat, use Ban Xia Hou Pu Tang.
The discussion above is for the cough and
phlegm after a Wind-Cold type of common cold. If the patient
feel no chilly, but soon a fever, dry mouth, and sweat, we have
to be very careful if it is the early stage of an infectious
disease. We recommend the patient to see a western medicine
doctor as well to have our Chinese medicine treatment. For us,
we will treat such patient right soon according to an infectious
disease. The herbal formula used would be such as Ma Xing Shi
Gan Tang, Ge Gen Tang, and Bai Hu Tang, etc.
Chronic cough is usually with phlegm and
short of breath. It could be caused by either Spleen, Liver, or
Kidney disease (those are Chinese medicine concept, not western
medicine concept), or combination of these organ systems. We
must make very clear TCM diagnosis before the treatment. The
commonly used herbal formula are Bai He Gu Jin Tang, Jin Kui
Shen Qi Wan, Zheng Wu Tang, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Jin Shui Liu
Jun Zi Tang, Huang Qin Xie Bai San plus Dai He San, Hou Pu Ma
Huang Tang, She Gan Ma Huang Tang, Xiao Qing Long Tang, Sha Shen
Mai Dong Tang, or Dao Tan Tang.
Acupuncture also works for cough. The
commonly used acupuncture points are Yin Xiang, Fei Shu, Shen
Shu, Qu Chi, Lie Que, He Gu, Shan Zhong, Jiu Wei, Shao Ze, Qi
Hai, and San Yin Jiao, etc. When used together with Chinese
herbal therapy, the cough can be stopped much sooner.
For acute cough with fever, we can also use
bleeding therapy. It works to release the symptoms and reduce
fever. For the common cold and cough, the bleeding therapy means
to punch the blood vesicles on the skin at the nail root of
fingers, on the elbows, and under the tongue.
We also use cupping therapy. The cups are
mostly put on the chest and on the upper back.
During the common cold and cough, we should
have a break to reduce the level of physical and emotional mind
work, so as to allow our body to share more energy for the
healing. We should not have too much physical exercise or mental
work to diverse body energy. We should understand that the pain,
the cough, are the signals of our body asking us to slow down
our steps of life, not to ask us to work more hard or to do more
heavy job. To respect the nature is one of the principles in
Chinese medicine practice.