Cough and wheezing (ma huang tang)

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Case by: Jiang Chun-Hua (姜春华)

[Patient] Hu, a 46 year old female, had [suffered from] cough and wheezing for seven years. She recently contracted a wind-cold invasion which manifested as a blockage and stifling sensation in the chest, hindered breathing, cough and wheezing with profuse phlegm, and water sounds in the throat. The tongue coat was white and the pulse was floating.  Two packets of a modified ma huang tang (Ephedra Decotion) prescription was given:

  • ma huang (Ephedrae Herba)6g
  • gui zhi (Cinnamomi Ramulus)9g
  • hou po (Magnoliae officinalis Cortex)9g
  • zhi shi (Aurantii Fructus immaturus)9g
  • xing ren (apricot seed or kernel)9g
  • gan cao (Glycyrrhizae Radix)6g

After taking the herbs, the cough and wheezing was reduced. Two packets of the above formula was given minus hou po (Magnoliae officinalis Cortex) with the addition of  chen pi (Citri reticulatae Pericarpium) 3g. [Following this] the cough stopped, wheezing was pacified, and the breathing was easy and smooth.

Transalted by: Jason Blalack

Source: 陕西中医学院学报1990;:3

Original Chinese: 姜春华医案:胡某某,女,46岁。咳喘已七年,近受风寒侵袭,胸闷窒塞,呼吸不利,咳喘多痰,喉间作水鸣声,苔白,脉软。以麻黄汤加味,处方:麻黄6克,桂枝9克,川朴9克,棋实9克,杏仁9克,甘草6克,2剂。药后咳喘减轻,上方去川朴,加陈皮3克,又服2剂,咳止喘平,呼吸通畅。

Commentary: This is a practical and fairly straightforward use of ma huang tang (Ephedra Decotion). In this case the patient had a constitutional condition of phlegm and thin mucus internally lurking in the Lungs. She contracted a wind cold pathogen which triggered an exacerbation of her cough and wheezing. Ma huang tang (Ephedra Decotion) not only externally resolves to wind cold but also internally diffuses the Lung qi. zhi shi (Aurantii Fructus immaturus) and hou po (Magnoliae officinalis Cortex) were added in order to clarify the Lungs and direct qi downwards.

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