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Best Chinese Remedy for Cough | Traditional Chinese Medicines

Updated: Mar 21


Traditional Chinese medicines have been used for centuries to address respiratory tract infections and alleviate coughing. Some of the best Chinese remedies for cough include herbal formulas such as Ma Xing Shi Gan Decoction and Sang Ju Yin or syrups like Nin Jiom Pei.  These remedies should be customized based on an individual's specific symptoms and constitution.

The Chinese remedies help alleviate coughing by addressing the root cause of the cough, whether it is due to dryness, phlegm, or inflammation in the respiratory system.

The herbal ingredients in these formulas often have anti-inflammatory, antitussive, and expectorant properties, helping to soothe the throat, reduce coughing, and support overall respiratory health.

The benefits of using Chinese herbal medicine for cough relief include its holistic approach to treating the underlying imbalance in the body, as well as its ability to minimize side effects typically associated with pharmaceutical cough medicines from conventional medicine.


Different Coughs -> Different Herbal Remedies

Coughing is a common symptom that can be caused by various conditions, such as infections, allergies, or chronic diseases.

Different types of coughs have different underlying causes and require specific

herbal remedies


Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries to help alleviate cough symptoms.

The Lung is responsible for regulating qi and controlling respiration. It is connected to the throat, opens to the nose, and influences the hair and skin. In cases of external pathogen invasion, the Lung is frequently the primary organ impacted.

External pathogens disrupt the movement of the Lung Qi and result in a rebellious response, leading to coughing.

Moreover, coughing is the body's natural way of eliminating pathogens.

There are two main groups of kinds of cough: External or Interior Patterns:

Acute or Exterior Cough Patterns:

The most common pathogens are Wind Cold and Wind Heat. These pathogens cause a Cough because the Lungs are in a vulnerable position. The Lungs are considered delicate organs and are easily affected by environmental conditions. Pathogens can enter the Lungs through the nose, mouth, or skin.

Cough Due To Cold or Wind-Cold:


When Wind-Cold enters the body, it can block the natural flow of Lung Qi, resulting in a cough. Cold contractions can also close the pores, keeping the illness on the body's surface.

Key Characteristics:

Neck pain, muscle aches.

Absence of sweating.

Headache (occipital or/and frontal area).

Runny nose with a thin and watery mucus.


Possible wheezing or difficulty breathing.

This pattern of Cough is commonly seen in conditions like the common cold, asthma, influenza, etc.

Acupuncture Treatment:

LI 4 - Hé Gú: Command point of face and mouth.

Lu 7 - Liè Quē: Command point of head and neck

GB 20 - Fēng Chí: Dispels Wind and clears heat/cold.

BL12 - Fēng Mén: Opens Lungs and disperse wind.

BL 13: Fèi Shū: Back Shu point of Lung, great effect for Coung and Asthma.

Ren 17 - Dàn Zhōng: Regulates Qi and suppresses rebellious Qi.


Herbal Treatment:

For complicated cases, it is necessary to use a customized formula prescribed by an herbalist after a proper diagnosis is done.

For common cough with a Wind-Cold presentation there are many patterns, the most popular one is:

Gan Mao Ling:

Gan Mao Ling is widely recognized as an effective herbal formula for treating early stage wind-heat or mild wind-cold, particularly when taken at the onset of symptoms and consistently every 2-4 hours.

Symptoms may include intermittent scratchy or sore throat, sudden fatigue, thirst, soreness or stiffness in the neck and shoulders/upper back, mild body aches, slight headache, runny nose, and nasal congestion.

This formula is very effective if you take it right at the beginning of your symptoms. If you are not feeling positive results probably you have made a wrong diagnosis or you took it too late. In this case you should see a professional herbalist to figure it out which is the right treatment for you.



Cough due to Flu or Wind-Heat


This pattern is due to Wind Heat which invades the Lungs through the nose and mouth, or Wind Cold which transforms into Heat, blocking the free natural descending of Lung Qi and producing Cough.

Key Characteristics

Acute dry Cough with tickling sensation in the throat.

Sore throat.

Fever but without chills.

Mild sweeting.


Possible nasal obstruction, with green or yellow mucus.

This is a common pattern of acute cough i children.

Usually responds very well to treatment. 

This pattern is associated to biomedical conditions like laryngitis, tonsillitis, common cold, bronchitis, etc.

Acupuncture Treatment:

Du 14 - Dà Zhuī: Jiao-Hui of all yang meridians. Common cold, cough, fever, febrile disease.

UB 112- Feng Men: Used for common cold, cough, fever, and neck issues.

UB 13- Fei Shu: Back Shu point of Lu, treats cough, asthma, chest pain, night sweats.

LI 11- Qu Chi, Jing Well point of Li, treats sore throat, cough, asthma, fever.

LI 4- He Gu: Yuan Source point and Command point of the face and mouth. Treats sore throat, cough

Lu 5- Chi Ze: Sedating He-Sea point of Lung, used to treat cough, asthma, sore throat, fullness in the chest.

Sj 5- Wai Guan: Luo-Connecting point fo San Jiao, dissipates wind and resolves exterior, indicated indicated to resolve Cough.

Herbal Treatment:

Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji

Chinese herbs

This herbal formula is commonly used to help with symptoms of the common cold, flu, and upper respiratory tract infections.

Ban lan gen root is valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its wide-ranging anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It contains powerful compounds like indirubin and tryptanthrin, which are responsible for its blue color. These compounds may help stop viral replication and enhance immune response. In addition, ban lan gen has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory advantages.


Chronic or Interior Cough Patterns

The pathology of chronic coughs involves the participation of organs beyond the lungs, here we can see a few examples:

Damp Phlegm: usually involves Spleen Qi or Spleen Yang Xu, and or Kidney Yang Xu.

Liver Fire attacking the Lungs, or Lung Qi deficiency rooted in a Spleen Qi Deficiency.

Or Lung Yin deficiency due to Kidney Yin deficiency.



Damp Phlegm in Lungs


Damp Phlegm causes a chronic cough. Often  is the result  of an inappropriate diet or  due to repetitive respiratory tract diseases, like chronic sinusitis or bronchitis treated with antibiotics without the desired outcome.

Very common in kids with a diet rich in dairy and sweet products.

Normally is a combination between excess (Damp-Phlegm accumulation) and deficiency (debilitated Lung and Spleen). In order to provide the perfect treatment we need to address the most accurately diagnosis to address correctly the mix of deficiency and excess.

Key Characteristics:

Chronic or periodic cough with profuse thin or thick clear mucus. 

Usually feel  noise in the chest while coughing, normlay stronger in the mornings right after waking up.

Fullness sensation in the chest and or epigastrium

Not good appetite


Tendency to loose stools

Heaviness and weakness sensation


Bl 13- Fèi Shū: Back Shu point of Lung. Used to treat cough, asthma, chest pain, night sweating.

Bl 43- Gāo Huāng Shū: Vital region Shu. Treats cough, tuberculosis, asthma, night sweating.

Bl 20-Pí Shū: Spleen Back Shu point. Regulates Spleen Qi, helps with digestion and eliminates dampness.

Lu 5- Chì Zé: Water Sedating point of Lung. Suppresses rebellious Qi and clears heat, used for cough with green/yellow phlegm.

Sp 3- Tài Bái: Yuan Source, tonifying point of Spleen. Supports the Spleen, helping digestion and reducing phlegm.

St 40-Fēng Lóng: Luo Connecting point of LU. Transform phlegm and dampness, and calms the spirits. Common point to treat cough with phlegm.

St 36- Zú Sān Lï: Tonifying point of Stomach. Helps reduce phlegm and also treats cough and asthma.

Herbal Treatment:

Er Chen Wan or Su Zi Jiang Qi Wan  are classic formulas to treat phlegm in the lungs.

The indications are cough with profuse phlegm that it's easy to expectorate. It dries phlegm, regulates Qi and Harmonizes the Middle Jiao and Digestion.

Cough with Phlegm

If you are looking to address a cough with phlegm using a Chinese remedy, you can consider using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help dry out the dampness, transform the phlegm, and improve qi flow through the Lung system to stop the cough.

If the cough with phlegm is of a hot nature, characterized by thick, yellow phlegm, you may want to consider using cooling herbs and remedies to balance the system and clear the phlegmy cough. Some cooling herbs commonly used in TCM for this purpose include honeysuckle (Lonicera), forsythia (Forsythia suspensa), and coptis (Coptis chinensis).

On the other hand, if the cough with phlegm is of a cold nature, with thin, copious white phlegm, warming the body may be more appropriate to balance the system and address the phlegmy cough. Warming herbs like ginger (Zingiber officinale), cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia), and garlic (Allium sativum) are often used in TCM for this purpose.

It is important to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner to determine the best course of treatment for your specific condition. Always use caution when using herbal remedies and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.


Liver Fire attacking the Lungs / Stress related Cough

stress cough

Liver Fire can produce acute or chronic cough. This pattern usually occurs on someone with chronic Liver Qi Stagnation. In this case there is an important emotional component.

It produces sudden bouts of cough, often with a red face increased by emotional stress.

Key Characteristics:

Dry throat.

Feeling of phlegm in the throat

Pain while coughing in the hypochondriac area.

Bitter taste and dry  mouth

Dark Urine

Dry stools

Irritability and bad mood.


Liv 2- Xíng Jiān: Fire sedating point of LIver. Drains Liver Fire, cools the blood and extinguish wind.

Gb 34- Yang lIng Quan: Earth, He- Sea point of Gall Bladder. Resolves damp heat from Liver channel. Spreads Qi in liver channel.

Li 11- Qū Chí: Earth He-Sea point of Large Intestine. Treats sore throat, febrile disease, cools pathogenic heat, resolves dampness and regulates blood flow.

Lu 5- Chï Zé: Sedating He-Sea point of Lung. Clears heat from Lung, suppresses rebellious qi. Used for cough, asthma, afternoon fever, sore throat.

Ren 17- Dàn Zhõng: Front Mu point of Pericardium, influential point of Qi. Regulates Qi, expands the chest, stops cough, asthma, pain in the chest.

Gb 21- Jian Jïng: Clears and invigorates the channel, dissolves phlegm.

Herbal Treatment

Long Dan Xie Gan Wan or Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan are classic herbal formulas to reduce heat in Liver and Gall Bladder and eliminate phlegm, cough, and chest fullness.

It is essential to get a proper diagnosis, otherwise the formula will not work or it will produce undesirable effects.

Lung Yin Deficiency

lung disease

When Lung Qi is damaged by chronic disease, smoking, wrong diet, excessive bronchodilators, the patient will suffer from Chronic Cough. Lung Yin deficiency also can occurs by a Kidney Yin deficiency.

Key Characteristics:

Dry cough in short bursts and with a low sound, with no phlegm or very little amount.

If there is mucus, it would be hard to expectorate or coming with blood.

Afternoon low grade fever.

Heat sensation on hands and feet.

Night sweats.

Extreme tiredness.

Dry and sore throat.


Bl 13: Fèi Shū, Back Shu  point of Lung. Indicated for Cough, Asthma, chest pain and nigh sweating

Bl 43: Gāo Huāng Shū, supplements the Lung, specially for Yin deficiency, fortifies Qi and Blood and strengthens Kidney Yin and Kidney Essence.

Lu 9: Tài Yuān, Earth, tonifying Shu Stream point of Lung. Indicated in cases of cough, asthma, sore throat, palpitations and pain in the chest.

LU 5: Chï Zé, Sedating He-Sea point of Lung. Treats cough, asthma, sore throat, fullness in the chest.

Bl 23: Shèn Shū, Back Shu Point of Kidney, tonifies Kidney Jing.

Kid 3: Tài Xî, Shu Stream, tonifying point of Kidney. Sore throat, asthma, tonifies kidney and cools heat.

Herbal Treatment

Sha Shen Mai Dong Tang, this formula nourish Lung Yin, clears deficiency Heat, restores the normal descending Lung Qi and stops Cough.

This pattern can be difficult to treat, because this patients suffer from Yin deficiency which is very complicated to nourish. Long term treatments are necessary.

Many long term lung diseases fall into this category.


Dealing with a chronic cough can be frustrating and exhausting. It affects your daily life, sleep, and overall well-being. Finding an effective way to treat chronic cough is crucial for improving your quality of life.

Both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs give an excellent results in the treatment of cough. Obviously acute cough, it would be easier to treat.

Cough from acute respiratory infections can be cleared in a few days, and the patient probably can avoid to take antibiotics, which can produce residual Heat or Phlegm Heat, making the cough chronic.

Chronic coughs are also relatively easy to treat. The most complicated pattern to treat is Lung Yin Deficiency, which may take few months to clear up.

If you are suffering from chronic cough you should look for professional help from your regular MD and from a professional Chinese Medicine practitioners.

In Soul Acupuncture & Herbal we have decades of experience helping patients with respiratory conditions



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