Antitussive and Expectorant Herbs

Medicines which facilitate the bringing up or the transformation of phlegm from the respiratory tract are called “expectorant.” Those which control coughing and soothe the throat are called “antitussive.” Expectorants generally have antitussive action and vice versa, which is why they appear under the same heading. Expectorants are used not only against excess phlegm due to coughs and colds, but also against other phlegm excess related ailments such as goitre, swelling of the lymph glands, epilepsy, certain types of fainting spells and others.

In clinical applications of these herbs, attention should be paid to the following points: both internal and external ailments can induce excess phlegm accumulation and coughing. When selecting expectorants and antitussives for therapeutic use, they must be combined with other types of herbs appropriate to the original causes of the problem. Phlegm and coughs due to external ailments should be treated in combination with diaphoretic herbs which “release externally”; “empty” ailments should be treated in combination with tonifying medications. When there is blood in the phlegm, avoid using expectorants of a highly drying nature, which would increase blood seepage. While coughing is one of the early symptoms of measles, do not use warm or astringent antitussives in such cases.

PINELLIA TERNATA

PINELLIA TERNATA

Natural distribution: Southern China, Japan.

Parts used: Tubers.

Nature: Pungent; warm.

Affinity: Spleen, stomach.

Effects: Expectorant; antiemetic; drying; prevents hardening of spleen.

Indications: Nausea and vomiting; chronic coughs; excess phlegm; gastritis.

Dosage: 3-7 g.

Remarks: Pregnant women should use herb sparingly; the fresh herb is slightly toxic, but the dried is not; the toxin is neutralized with tea or vinegar.

ARISAEMA CONSANGUINEUM

ARISAEMA CONSANGUINEUM

Natural distribution: Northern China, Korea, Japan.

Parts used: Tubers.

Nature: Pungent and bitter; warm.

Affinity: Lungs, liver, spleen.

Effects: Expectorant; drying; anti- spasmodic; analgesic.

Indications: Coughs; heavy, lumpy phlegm; gastritis; dizziness and fainting due to excess phlegm; epilepsy; tetanus infections.

Dosage: 3-10 g.

Remarks: The fresh drug is toxic, but not the dried; when used fresh, it is mixed with beef bile or Pinellia temata to neutralize its toxins.

BEEFSTEAK PLANT

        PERILLA FRUTESCENS

Natural distribution: Southern China, Taiwan, Indochina, India.

Parts used: Seeds.

Nature: Pungent; warm.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant; asthma preventive; laxative.

Indications: Excess phlegm; coughs; asthma; constipation due to dry intestines.

Dosage: 5-8 g.

Remarks: Leaves also used as diaphoretic and antitussive.

BALLOON FLOWER

PLATYCODON GRANDIFIDRUM

Natural distribution: China, Japan.

Parts used: Roots.

Nature: Bitter and pungent; neutral.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Expectorant; dilates the bronchii; eliminates pus.

Indications: Coughs; excess phlegm; sore throat; lung ulcers; throat ulcers.

Dosage: 3-5 g.

Remarks: The drug induces secretion of mucus in the throat to dilute accumulations of hard phlegm and facilitate bringing it up.

YELLOW STARWORT

      INULA BRITANNICA

Natural distribution: China, Japan, Siberia, Europe.

Parts used: Flowers.

Nature: Bitter, pungent and salty; slightly warm.

Affinity: Lungs, spleen, stomach, large intestine.

Effects: Expectorant; antitussive; anti-emetic.

Indications: Coughs; excess phlegm, burping; nausea and vomiting.

Dosage: 3-10 g.

Remarks: This drug should be wrapped in a cheesecloth pouch when boiling to prevent irritating fibers from entering the broth.

 

DOG’S BANE

    CYNANCHUM STAUNTONI

Natural distribution: Southern China,

Parts used: Pungent and sweet; slightly warm

Nature: Lungs

Affinity: Antitussive; expectorant; antiemetic

Effects: Coughs; excess phlegm; acute asthma

Indications: Dosage: 3-6 g

 

FRITILLARIA VERTICILLATA

FRITILLARIA VERTICILLATA

Natural distribution: Central China, Japan.

Parts used: Corms.

Nature: Bitter and sweet; slightly cold.

Affinity: Heart, lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant; antipyretic; scatters blockage and softens hard tissues.

Indications: Chronic coughs; dry throat; “wind-heat” coughs; heavy, yellow phlegm; swelling of lymph glands; infected abscesses; lung and breast tumors.

Dosage: Pure powder —1-2 g; decoction —5-10 g

Remarks: The variety from Sichuan is superior.

PEUCEDANUM DECURSIVUM

PEUCEDANUM DECURSIVUM

Natural distribution: Eastern China, Japan.

Parts used: Roots.

Nature: Bitter and pungent; slightly cold.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant; anti-emetic; antipyretic; diaphoretic.

Indications: Accumulations of excess heavy phlegm; coughs; asthma; bronchitis.

Dosage: 3-10 g.

Remarks: Induces secretion of mucus in respiratory tract to dilute hard phlegm in bronchial tubes and facilitate bringing it up.

SNAKE GOURD

TRICHOSANTHES KIRILOWII

Natural distribution: Southern China, Vietnam.

Parts used: Kernels of the seeds.

Nature: Sweet; cold.

Affinity: Lungs, stomach, large intestine.

Effects: Expectorant; dilates bronchii; emollient; laxative.

Indications: Coughs due to excess heat in lungs; heavy, yellow phlegm; lung tumors; pains in chest and rib- cage; breast tumors; constipation due to dry intestines.

Dosage: 10-15 g.

Remarks: The root is antipyretic, and it promotes lactation.

LEPIDIUM APETALUM

      LEPIDIUM APETALUM

Natural distribution: Northwestern China, northern Asia, northern Europe, North America.

Parts used: Seeds.

Nature: Pungent and bitter; very cold.

Affinity: Lungs, bladder.

Effects: Expectorant; diuretic; reduces swelling; sedative in asthma and bronchitis.

Indications: Excess phlegm; coughs; asthma; facial paralysis; water- retention in chest and abdomen.

Dosage: 4-10 g.

GULF SEAWEED

    SARGASSUM FUSIFORME

Natural distribution: Coasts of China and Japan.

Parts used: Whole plant.

Nature: Bitter and salty; cold.

Affinity: Liver, stomach, kidneys.

Effects: Expectorant; diuretic; scatters goiter swellings.

Indications: Swellings of lymph glands; goiter; excess hard lumpy phlegm.

Dosage: 6-12 g.

Remarks: The herb contains 0.2 percent iodine and has been used for centuries in ailments due to iodine deficiency.

APRICOT

     PRUNUS ARMENIACA

Natural distribution: Northwestern China.

Parts used: Kernels of the pits.

Nature: Sweet and bitter; warm.

Affinity: Lungs, large intestine.

Effects: Antitussive; sedative in asthma and bronchitis; laxative.

Indications: Coughs; asthma; bronchitis; constipation due to dry intestines.

Dosage: 4-10 g.

Remarks: Mildly poisonous; toxic doses can be neutralized with a decoction of the rough outer bark of the tree.

A CREEPING VINE

   ARISTOIDCHIA DEBILIS

Natural distribution: Northern China, Japan.

Parts used: Fruits.

Nature: Bitter and slightly pungent; cold.

Affinity: Lungs, large intestine.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant.

Indications: Coughs due to excess heat in lungs; excess phlegm; irregular breathing; asthma; bronchitis; chronic coughs; blood in phlegm.

Dosage: 3-10 g.

Remarks: Mildly poisonous.

LOQUAT

     ERIOBOTRYA JAPONICA

Natural distribution: Southwestern China, Japan, Indonesia; Europe.

Parts used: Leaves.

Nature: Bitter; neutral.

Affinity: Lungs, stomach.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant; antiemetic.

Indications: Coughs due to heat excess in lungs; difficult respiration; chronic burping; nausea and vomiting; thirst.

Dosage: 10-15 g.

COLTSFOOT

      TUSSILAGO FARFARA

Natural distribution: Northern China, Europe, Africa.

Parts used: Flowers and floral buds.

Nature: Pungent; warm.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant.

Indications: Coughs; asthma; chronic coughs due to “empty” lungs.

Dosage: 3-10 g.

TARTARIAN ASTER

      ASTER TATARICUS

Natural distribution: Northern China, Siberia, Japan.

Parts used: Roots.

Nature: Pungent and bitter; warm.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; expectorant.

Indications: Coughs, irregular breathing; accumulated excess phlegm; chronic coughs due to “empty” lungs.

Dosage: 4-10 g.

Remarks: The drug’s primary effects are expectorant, not antitussive.

STEMONA TUBEROSA

       STEMONA TUBEROSA

Natural distribution: Central China, Indochina, Taiwan, India.

Parts used: Roots.

Nature: Sweet and bitter; slightly cold.

Affinity: Lungs.

Effects: Antitussive; demulcent to lungs; anthelmintic; kills lice.

Indications: Coughs; chronic, dry coughs; whooping cough; tape- worm; external application to lice.

Dosage: 5-10 g.

Remarks: Recent applications have found the drug to be effective against tuberculosis.

JIMSON WEED, LOCO WEED

             DATURA METEL

Natural distribution: Southern China, southern Asia, America.

Parts used: Flowers.

Nature: Pungent; warm

Affinity: Lung.

Effects: Antitussive; sedative in asthma; analgesic.

Indications: Asthma; irregular or difficult breathing; shortness of breath; stomach ache.

Dosage: 0.1-0.25 g.

Remarks: Poisonous; the dried flowers are smoked in a pipe to relieve asthma without phlegm excess; not suitable for use in children; traditionally, the drug has been used as a local anaesthetic before topical surgery; the leaves and seeds are used as local anaesthetics as well.

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