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

In Chinese medicine there is a saying that “Famous Doctors don’t treat coughs.” What they are saying is that even a “hot shot” doctor is often humbled by something that seems so simple. 

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 number of possibilities that you can choose from. 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. 

For the most part the formulas here are for those coughs that started with a cold. 

Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan Pinellia and Scute – Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan translates as Clear Qi and Transform Phlegm Pill. This is one of my favorites for colds and a cough when the phlegm has gotten thick and yellow. Qing Qi Hua Tan dries the phlegm and clears the heat. This is for pretty extreme heat symptoms and cough with constipation. There may be other symptoms such as rashes. 

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“.

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  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. 

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. 

Hiccough and Belch Formula – this one is a little different. Created for a patient with specific problems with hiccoughing and belching.