Most Acupuncturists know the best Acupuncture points to stop chest pain and move qi and blood in the chest. Nei Guan, Shan Zhong, and Xin Shu are some of the most effective Acupuncture points to treat chronic Chest Pain.
But Herbal Medicine is more effective to move blood stasis or to nourish the underlying deficiency which results in Chest pain. But which herbal formulas to use?
Well, that’s where the TCM differentiation according to syndromes shines. The following is a brief summary of the 6 main syndromes resulting in chronic chest pain and their representative formulas. Thank you to Dr. Kai Chen of Oshio College for teaching us how to effectively differentiate and prescribe herbal formulas.
Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is, of course, the representative formula for Chest pain due to blood stasis in the mansion of the Blood. If the patient has Heart palpitations with an irregular, choppy pulse and other classic blood stasis symptoms, we can use this formula to Move blood and Open up the channels.
If the patient has a heavier sensation, along with the telltale signs of Phlegm Stagnation, we can give them Gua Luo Xie Bai Ban Xia Tang in order to open the chest and dissolve phlegm.
If they are suffering from Qi Stagnation, with distending pain and a wiry pulse, then a modification of Chai Hu Shu Gan San can be used to smooth liver Qi, open the meridians and stop the pain.
If the Chest pain is due to cold invasion and features a sharp, colicky sensation with a light pulse and pale/purple tongue, then we can give them Gua Luo Xie Bai Bai Jiu Tang, perhaps with some warming herbs like Gui Zhi or a small amount of Fu Zi.
If the Chest pain is worse after exertion, better with rest, and we suspect that they have an underlying Yang Qi deficiency, then we can warm them and tonify their Yang Qi using the formula Shen Fu Tang.
If it’s not quite that bad, and they only suffer from Qi deficiency, then it’s better to use Sheng Mai San to nourish Yin and tonify Qi.
And if they have chronic, dull, burning chest pain with other Yin deficiency signs, then we can Nourish their Heart Yin using Liu Wei Di Huang Wan with Sheng Mai San.
Of course, if they are having an Acute attack of chest pain, we must refer them to the CICU: Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Just remember to take out the needles first!!!