Lung and Cough Formulas

Lung and Cough formulas


Lung issues and Coughs can be run from annoying to debilitating. And curing them is often elusive.

Chinese medicine is big on when the cough was created how it has progressed through the body. For example, a cough at day one of a cold is often totally different from a cold at day fifteen. The amount of phlegm (and the color of the phlegm) is also very important to us.

What I am going to do here is present a few possibilities that you can choose from. Lung issues may be long standing over the period of decades or very sudden.

If you have IPF you may want to look at this page in particular.

Coughs can be caused by any number of causes and not always come from the lungs. Generally these and chronic coughs (more than a month or so) can be more serious. Some meds such as for high blood pressure can also cause coughs.

In Chinese Medicine we are looking for major symptoms that include the amount of phlegm and lung issues and cough where there is no phlegm, a little phlegm or phlegm that is hard to expectorate.

Phlegm falls under damp and no phlegm is considered lung dryness.

Often after a long term illness…chronic cough with feeble and soft voice, worse in the afternoon and evening; or hoarse voice, sparse sputum that is difficult to expectorate, shortness of breath, dry mouth and tongue, spontaneous sweating; pale, red tongue; weak, rapid or thin pulse. Herbs that you want to look for where there is little energy are Huang Qi, Dang Shen and Wu Wei Zi . 


There are mixed conditions of phlegm and no phlegm which are often chronic conditions. This may very well be the case with diseases such as IPF and other types of Lung Fibrosis. Often these are times when phlegm has dried and caused “dry phlegm”. The image for this is a river that has dried up into a swamp and then a drying swamp. Conditions with dryness often include Yin/ fluid  deficiency herbs such as Mai Men Dong and Bai Bu. Zhe Bei Mu is said to “transform old phlegm” into a liquid that can be expelled. 

  • Jin Shui Huan Xian – This one of the best formulas for chronic lung problems where there is cough. It helps with energy and “transform” phlegm into fluids which can moisten the lungs without creating more phlegm.
  • Fei Fu Kang  is for chronic cases without too much phlegm but a drop in energy. This has been a very well received formula. We can also make Fei Fu without San Qi which has a effect on the blood. I forgot why I started making it without San Qi but many people order it.
  • Yu Fei Ning (FYN) has a lot of herbs for phlegm. It also works on the blood which often is damaged with dry phlegm.


Bu Fei Wan   This is a classic formula to help the lungs especially for long term problems. Generally there won’t be much phlegm and the tongue might have no coat at all and/or be red. Any cough may be weak and not bring up much sputum.

Bei Mu Gua Lou San acute or chronic– dryness attacking the Lung with phlegm:
choking and coarse cough with copious and thick yellow, or blood streaked purulent sputum, that is difficult to expectorate; red face, thirst, red tongue with yellow greasy coating;
rapid and slippery pulse

Fang Feng Tong Sheng San – Siler and Platycodon – This is for pretty extreme heat symptoms and cough with constipation. There may be other symptoms such as rashes. This formula has a wide number of applications but won’t be used that much.


Ren Shen Bai Du San – Ginseng Formula to Overcome Pathogens – This popular formula is for a lingering cough that may have deep seated phlegm but not actively coughing up at each cough. There might be a lot of tiredness and/or body aches. One might take this if a could has gone on for a week or so. The coughing symptoms of the cold have mainly gone away and the person is more than sick and tired of being sick and tired. They don’t know why they are still sick but they still feel really tired.


Sha Shen Mai Men Dong Tang   This is an Yin Tonic formula helping dry lungs and stomach. You might need this after a cold that has turned dry and the cough is now “non-productive” (no phlegm). Its good for all sorts of Yin Deficiency syndromes.

Sheng Mai San Lung Qi and Yin deficiency chronic. Sheng Mai San is not for your run-of-the-mill tiredness. With only a few herbs it strongly supports energy levels that have been severely tapped. In TCM theory, this means the qi and yin have been compromised giving signs of thirst and fatigue that may go into a body weakness. A major indication for this formula is a chronic cough that has depleted the fluids. There might be shortness of breath and spontaneous sweating. There should be no phlegm to use this formula.

Other formulas with phlegm include:

Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan acute or chronic– heat phlegm in the Lung: This is one of my favorites for colds and a cough when the phlegm has gotten all gross and yellow. Qing Qi Hua Tan dries the phlegm and clears the heat. Be careful about taking it for more that a week or two as it cause the lungs to dry and you might develop a dry cough. It is a variation of Er Chen Wan. It might have a hacking cough with much sticky yellow sputum – damp phlegm from Spleen deficiency: recurrent cough with a thick sound of phlegm in the throat, worse in the morning and after meals, aggravated by eating greasy or sweet food; cough with copious, white sputum that is easy to expectorate, a stifling sensation in the chest, nausea or vomiting, slippery pulse

Ding Chuan Tang acute– wind cold in the exterior with phlegm heat in the interior- cough with copious, thick yellow sputum; loud wheezing, breathlessness, labored breathing, possible chills and fever; a red tongue with a yellow greasy coat, slippery and rapid pulse

Zhi Sou San acute– wind attacking the Lung with phlegm: cough, may be accompanied by slight chills, fever and itchy throat, slightly floating pulse

Ban Xia Hou Po Tang – Ban Xia Hou Po is not for cough especially but for the feeling of something stuck in the throat. We call this “plum pit syndrome“.

and even more:

Ma Huang Tang acute (Since Ma Huang is not available we offer a “no Ma Huang” substitute here) – wind cold attacking the Lung: cough with harsh and loud volume, itchy throat, copious thin white sputum, chills and fever, no sweating, headache, sneezing, runny nose, floating and tight pulse

Sang Ju Yin acute– wind heat attacking the Lung :acute onset, choking cough with coarse sound, dry and sore throat, thirst, cough with thick yellow sputum, fever and chills, headache, sweating, floating and rapid pulse

Ma Xing Shi Gan Tang acute -( This is another Ma Huang formula where we have substituted the Ma Huang) There will be a lot of  heat lodged in the Lung: choking and coarse cough with viscous and difficult to expectorate sputum, thirst, wheezing, labored breathing, nasal flaring, yellow tongue coating, slippery rapid pulse

Shi Quan Da Bu Tang chronic
Qi and Blood deficiency: chronic cough with feeble voice, shortness of breath, laconic speech, fatigue, pale and sallow complexion, palpitation; pale tongue, thin and weak pulse

there are lots of way to treat lung issues and cough… write me so I can help you with your issues…