Q: I had my spleen removed because of Hodgkins Disease. What should I use for stuffy sinus and constant hoarseness?
A: In my opinion, you shouldn’t “use” anything, but go see a Chinese medicine (CM) practitioner (acupuncturist/herbalist) for the appropriate herbs for your condition, which I cannot diagnose over the internet. I wonder if you are hoarse because of over the counter decongestants?
Q: I went to the Doctor because I was hoarse. With the sinus drainage and him thinking that it could be stomach acid, I did try things like Nexium and Nasonex spray, without any luck. In reading some of your website I thought that I read something about a sinus and spleen connection. I think it was something about wet or dry spleen that herbs could help. If you don’t have a spleen, it seems that you would be prone to constant sinus problems, which I think I have. It seems like I always have some mucous at the back of my throat. Any ideas? I would appreciate any info you can offer. I will try to locate a Chinese medicine practitioner.
The Spleen in Western and Chinese Medicine
Well, first please note that the Spleen of CM is different than the anatomical spleen of western medicine. The western spleen organ is mostly involved with blood, whereas the Chinese medicine Spleen organ-system is about digestion, assimilation, getting energy to the four limbs. In western terms, Spleen qi is probably something like enzymes (though not limited to that), which work with the stomach acid (part of the Stomach qi or yang) to digest the food.
Causes of Sinus Congestion
There is a connection with the sinuses: In CM, Spleen deficiency leads to dampness and phlegm (this is probably the “wet spleen” you were trying to remember), which can show up in sinus congestion. The Spleen is said to “raise the clear yang and descend the turbid yin.” But there are other causes and factors in sinus congestion: inflammation (heat), stress, qi stagnation, and Liver/Gallbladder damp-heat.
Treat the Causes and the Symptoms
To treat it well, you need not only a sinus draining formula like Cang Er Zi Tang (CEZT) as the basis, but also herbs that address the root and related patterns. Only taking CEZT would not fix the cause of the problem, so by itself it would be only a temporary fix. We would add all or parts of formulas like:
Liu Jun Zi Tang for Spleen deficient dampness
Er Chen Tang for phlegm
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for Liver Gallbladder damp-heat
Shu Kan Wan or Xiao Yao San for Liver qi stagnation.
Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang for phlegm and Stomach heat
But you can’t take them all! And, taking the wrong ones could make you worse. So, get thee to an herbalist – that is, an acupuncturist who knows their herbs. We have an acupuncturist-finding resource which also has some tips for evaluating several acupuncturists before deciding which one to see.