Acupuncture for Cough - Treatment Protocols

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for acute and chronic cough and related issues. There are many ways to treat this condition with Eastern Medicine and our presentation is only one of many possible options.

  • Etiology & Pathology:
  • Differentiation:
    • Wind-Cold
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: chills and fever (w/chills predominating), aversion to cold, headache, stuffy nose, clear mucus, choking cough.
        • Tongue:  Thin white coating
        • Pulse:  Floating, tight (indicates cold predominates)
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Release the Exterior
        • Expel the Wind
        • Circulate LU Qi
        • Warm the Cold
      • Treatment Points:
        • Main Points:
          • UB 12 - expel wind.
          • UB 13 - LU Back Shu point.
          • LU 7 - Release exterior, expel wind, circulate LU - useful in conjuction with UB 12 as listed above.
          • LU 9 - alleviate cough, circulate LU.
        • Secondary Points:
          • GB 20, GV 16 a/or LI 4 - useful if body aches a/or head/neck tension is present.
    • Wind-Heat
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: fever, sore throat, thirst, cough with sputum.
        • Tongue:  Thin yellow coating
        • Pulse:  Floating, fast
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Expel the Wind-Heat
        • Release the Exterior
        • Circulate LU Qi
      • Treatment Points:
        • UB 12 - expel wind.
        • UB 13 - LU Back Shu point.
        • LU 10 - expel heat in the LU.
        • TH 5 - release the exterior in cases of wind-heat, LI 4 is more for wind-cold.
    • Wind-Damp
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: Profuse mucus, heavy/loose/thick cough, feelings of heaviness in the body.
        • Tongue:  Greasy, thick coating
        • Pulse:  Floating, slippery
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Expel Wind
        • Resolve Dampness
        • Circulate the LU Qi
      • Treatment Points:
        • LU 7 - expel wind, circulate LU Qi.
        • SP 5 - Dispersion & Jing-River Point - often used for cough and throat disorders to resolve dampness.
        • SP 9 - Resolve dampness.
        • CV 12 - ST Front Mu Point, resolve dampness.
    • Wind-Dry
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • More likely in the fall or in warm/dry climates.
        • Patient may have: Dry cough w/o sputum, dry mouth, nose & throat.
        • Tongue:  Red tip, dry
        • Pulse:  Floating
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Expel Wind
        • Moisten and Circulate the LU
      • Treatment Points:
        • Main Points:
        • Secondary Points:
          • CV 12 a/or SP 6 - to aid the ST in the production of body fluids.
    • LU/KD Deficiency/Dryness
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: Unproductive cough, scanty/no sputum, yin deficiency signs (afternoon fever, night sweats, mallor flush, heat in the 5 palms), possibly coughing blood as in TB.
        • Tongue:  Red, no coating
        • Pulse:  Thin, rapid
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Moisten LU
        • Nourish Yin
        • Descend LU Qi
      • Treatment Points:
        • Main Points:
          • KD 3, UB 13 & UB 23 - used together to nourish the Yin of the KD/LU.
          • LU 5 - clear LU empty-heat, descend LU Qi.
        • Secondary Points:
          • LU 6 & UB 17 - used together to alleviate coughing Blood.
          • UB 43 - for patients with severe deficiencies.
    • SP Yang Deficiency
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: Poor appetite/digestion, fullness in the epigastric area, fatigue, bodily weakness, cold extrememties, pale face, cough w/profuse sweating.
        • Tongue:  Empty/Soft (w/deficiency) or Slippery (w/excess phlegm-damp)
        • Pulse:  Pale, swollen, greasy tongue coating
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Tonify SP
        • Transform Phlegm
        • Alleviate Cough
      • Treatment Points:
        • Main Points:
        • Secondary Points:
          • May want to tonify KD Yang as it is the root of SP Yang.
          • Moxa/Needle either:
            CV 4 & CV 6 or
            UB 23 & GV 4
    • LV Fire effecting the LU
      • Signs & Symptoms:
        • Patient may have: coughing possibly blood-tinged, costal pain, irritability.
        • Tongue:  Red w/yellow coating
        • Pulse:  Wiry, rapid
      • Treatment Protocol:
        • Expel LV Heat
        • Alleviate Cough
      • Treatment Points:
        • LV 2 - Expel LV heat.
        • LV 14 - Expel LV heat, resolve stagnation.
        • GV 34 - Aid LV 2, alleviate costal pain.
        • UB 13 with LU 5 - used together to expel LU heat and descend the LU Qi.

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes