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Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of the Three Most Common Types of Cough

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Because of its specific differentiation of the various types of coughs Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is especially effective in treating all sorts of coughs. A cough caused by heat, for example, produces sticky phlegm that can be very hard to expectorate; TCM treats this type of cough with acupuncture points and moistening, cooling herbs that dispel heat from the lungs. A cough due to cold, on the other hand, is marked by copious mucus and chills and is treated with the application of moxibustion and with drying, warming herbs.

If there is no differentiation, it can lead to an unfocused treatment that is ineffective or can even cause the cough to worsen. The following are a few of the Chinese medicine diagnoses of the more common forms of coughs and their specific corresponding treatments.

1. Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of a Wind Dryness Cough

Oftentimes contracted after exposure to a dry environment, this type of cough is not the same as a chronic dry cough associated with lung yin deficiency (usually due to smoking). In a wind dryness cough, the air’s dryness allows the external adverse influence of the dryness to attack the lungs. This type of cough leads to symptoms such as headache, sore throat with a ticklish sensation, and a dry cough, mouth, and lips.

The aim of the treatment is to stop the cough, moisten the lungs, and overcome the pernicious influence of the dryness. Herbal treatments for this type of cough include an herbal formula known as “Mulberry Leaf and Apricot Seed Decoction,” which in Chinese is called Sang Hsing Tang. This formula is an effective substitute for Chuan Bei Pi Pa Gao.

The diet should involve lots of liquids and soups. One should take hsi yang shen or American ginseng every day for a few weeks once the condition is gone. This will fortify the yin and qi of the lungs and prevent any future attack.

2. Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of a Cold or Damp Phlegm Cough

This type of cough is marked by persistent coughing that expectorates copious amounts of sticky white or clear phlegm that tends to be more plentiful after meals or in the morning. Other symptoms can include a sensation of heaviness, fatigue, poor appetite, fullness sensation in the stomach or chest, and nausea. The goal of treatment for this syndrome is to strengthen digestion, and dispel the phlegm from the lungs since an underlying spleen qi deficiency can trigger an excessive production of mucus.

To warm the lungs and repel the pathogen, the classic formula known as “Two Old Things Decoction,” (Er Chen Tang) and other herbs are prescribed. Er Chen Wan is the patent version of Er Chen Tang. If this syndrome is accompanied by nasal congestion, stiff neck, headache and other wind-cold symptoms, the patent medicine Chuan Hsiong Cha Chao Wan can also be prescribed.

Dietary therapy involves not eating mucus-producing foods such as sweets, dairy products, and cold foods. Recommended foods include whole grains, vegetables, and hot soups as well as small amounts of raw juices at room temperature to help moisten the lungs and induce expectoration. People with this syndrome should stay warm, get plenty of rest and eat lots of hot liquids, particularly ginger tea. Hot vegetable soup is ideal for this condition.

3. Encino Traditional Chinese Medicine of Hot Phlegm Cough

This type of cough leads to accumulated phlegm that turns sticky and thick because of heat. The cough can cause a loud, barking sound. The heat gives the phlegm a dark color that ranges from yellow to dark green or brown. The phlegm is very hard to expectorate. This type of syndrome necessitates an aggressive approach as the green means the mucus has been infected. When the mucus goes into the lungs, it can be easily infected with bacteria, making the immediate removal of the mucus extremely important. Dislodging the mucus and stimulating expectoration is done by using herbs that moisten the lungs.

One excellent herbal formula for hot phlegm cough is the Pinellia Expectorant Pills which may come under several names, like Pinellia Root Teapills or Ching Chi Hua Tan Wan, but they are all the same formula. It is recommended to take it along with Yin Chiao Jie Du Pian or Gan Mao Ling to get the best results. Diet therapy is the same as cold or damp phlegm cough.

Plan of Treatment for a Cough

Unless cough sufferers get some rest and change their diet, their acute cough will fail to respond to the aforementioned treatments within a week. If this is the case, the cough can last for weeks, resulting in a weakened immunity and a series of colds. Cough due to any cause can be addressed with acupuncture treatment. Inserting a needle or needles an acupoints associated with the Conception Vessel meridian located above the sternum can rapidly assist breathing and quell a cough. Moxibustion is typically applied in a damp, cold type of cough, since warmth is required for that pattern.

Written by Valerie

April 4th, 2017 at 10:55 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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Acupuncture for Whooping Cough

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Pertussis or whooping cough is considered an opportunistic infection that strikes the lungs. Usually affected by this condition are young children every three to four years. Chinese herbal therapy and acupuncture are safe and effective treatments that can brig about complete recovery for affected children. Acupuncture therapy is considered a gentle clinical process. Oftentimes, in effectively treating pertussis, a combination of Eastern and Western medicine is used by medical practitioners.  According to traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, pertussis is the result of bacterial infection, overuse of antibiotics, damp climates, irregular feeding and/or poor diets. TCM has been practiced for over 5000 years in East Asia and they are modalities that your child can avail of as they are gentle and effective solutions for children’s conditions.

The first stage of pertussis usually lasts 10 to 20 days and symptoms may include:

-Abundant nasal discharge
-Cough that leads to wheezing and coughing with productive bubbly sputum

The second stage of the disease may last 40 to 60 days and symptoms may include:

Convulsive coughing followed by croup – This condition stabilizes in the daytime but worsens at night.

The third stage of recovery can last for 20 to 30 days. Symptoms may include:

-Hot hands and feet along with irritability, night sweats, and dry cough
-Frequent pale urine
-Watery stools
-Distended stomach
-Choosy about food or poor appetite
-Spontaneous sweating
-Cold feet and hands
-Tired and weak body
-Weak and reduced cough with few or no sputum

TCM provides a safer treatment that is natural and holistic as opposed to pharmaceutical drugs that have long term side effects especially affecting the kidneys and liver.  Constantly putting your child on a western medicine course of treatment can do harm to his/her overall well-being. TCM has antiviral and antibacterial herbs that are as potent as pharmaceutical drugs but are safer in comparison. These herbal tonics can be designed exclusively for your child’s needs resolving multiple symptoms in a safe manner.

TCM strengthens your child’s immune system, restores his/her body fluids to healthy levels, nourishes the lungs and removes cough and sputum.

Consider TCM to give your child excellent overall health

TCM definitely can treat pertussis making your child recover more quickly than with conventional therapies. Western medicine offers provides antibiotic relief. This can relieve the symptoms of sputum ad cough and sputum; TCM, on the other hand, dissolves the mucus and strengthens the lungs helping bring back the body to homeostasis. It also addresses the underlying problem of pertussis guaranteeing the condition to never come back again.


Linda Lesperance is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of The Lotus Center of Oriental Medicine in Boca Raton, FL.

Written by Valerie

April 27th, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Posted in Acupuncture

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