How to Treat a Sore Throat and Stress with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Sore throat can be acute or chronic. Acute cases are typically due to wind heat, with accompanying symptoms of fever, possibly a cough with yellow phlegm, and a floating, rapid pulse.

The classic formula in traditional Chinese medicine for this diagnosis is Yin Qiao Jie Du Pian. The sooner it is taken once symptoms arise, the more quickly and effectively it clears the condition. If the sore throat is especially severe, add Chuan Xin Lian Antiphlogistic Pills. If the sore throat continues to get worse, seek medical attention immediately to determine if the condition is a strep infection.


Acute sore throats usually subside after a day or two of herbal therapy and acupuncture. The most commonly used points are Large Intestine 4 and Large Intestine 11 ("Crooked Pool"), located on the hand and arm. If the pain is especially severe, a point near the base of the thumb on the palm side (Lung 10) is very effective. Since this point can be painful to needle, it is usually reserved for more severe throat pain. In these cases, the patient is willing to tolerate a little extra discomfort from the needles in order to get relief from the throat pain. A chronic sore throat can have yin deficiency as the underlying cause, since the lack of cooling yin can lead to chronic inflammation. Other symptoms of yin deficiency are a thin, rapid pulse, red tongue with little or no coating, dry mouth, night sweats, and irritability or insomnia. The treatment principle is to tonify yin and clear the heat with standard formulas such as Rehmannia Teapills. It might be necessary to take the formula for a few months for it to have a long-term effect. Treating Stress with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Modern, industrialized societies run at such a fast pace, constant stress and anxiety are often considered by many people to be normal aspects of life. Many people won't even realize they're under stress until they are diagnosed with a stress-related condition such as high blood pressure or they have a stroke or heart attack.

Of course, the best way to deal with stress is to eliminate as many possible sources of it as possible. Stress-reduction techniques such as qi gong, meditation, yoga, exercise, or spiritual practices can greatly lessen the effects of stress on both the mind and body.

The effects of acupuncture in reducing stress are truly remarkable. Patients always seem to be more relaxed and emotionally calm after a treatment. Certain points have especially calming effects, making them effective in treating insomnia, addictions, and anxiety disorders. In some cases, a practitioner may tape a small seedlike bead to a point on the ears known as "Spirit Gate." The person can then stimulate this point by pressing on the bead, helping maintain the calming effects of the acupuncture treatment. Some patent remedies used for their calming effects are Emperor's Tea or An Mien Pien. Stronger extracts to reduce anxiety or induce sleep can also be obtained through practitioners. Zizyphus Seed Stress/Sleep Formula, a concentrated liquid extract, is very fast-acting and effective for stress or insomnia, depending on the dosage.

In addition, some herbs, known as adaptogens, help the body withstand the effects of stress. These include tonifying herbs such as ginseng, Astragalus, Codonopsis, and reishi mushroom. Researched extensively in Russia and China, the effectiveness of these herbs as adaptogens is well documented.

Some patents that contain adaptogens are Ginseng Royal Jelly Vials, Extractum Astragali, and Kwei Be Wan. A highly concentrated Siberian ginseng solid extract from Gaia herbs is also available in health food stores. It is very tasty in its honey base, and the feelings of well-being and higher energy levels can be felt soon after ingesting the extract.


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Bill Schoenbart has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) since 1991, when he earned a Masters degree in TCM. He teaches TCM medical theory and herbalism at an acupuncture school in California, and also maintains a clinical practice.


Ellen Shefi is a licensed massage technician, licensed acupuncturist, and registered dietician. She is a member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Herb Association, and the Oregon Acupuncture Association.