Female 21, office worker, with recurring asthma attacks successfully treated with 4 weeks of herbal medicine

About the Author

Dr Shu Wang

Trained in both Western and Chinese medicine, Shu Wang is a renowned clinician with over 46 years experience. He has worked in China for over 20 years and has practiced in Australia for the last 25 years. Dr Wang's preference for clinical treatment is Sun Herbal's Black Pearl range. www.SunHerbal.com

Main Signs and Symptoms

Weak constitution, frequent URTI’s occurring all the year round that trigger her asthma attacks. With the recent onset of the cold weather she has had more frequent episodes of asthma. Western treatments include antibiotics and frequent daily use of Ventolin inhaler.

Appearance: slim build and looks tired. During asthma attacks she has palpitations, sweating, sensations of coldness, shortness of breath, cyanosis particularly around the lips and chin.

Pulse: thready-soft and particularly weak in the middle (guan) position

Tongue: pale with purple areas and a thin coat

Diagnosis and Treatment

TCM Diagnosis:

Failure of the Kidney to receive the Qi due to Kidney Yang deficiency.


Treatment Principle: Warm-tonify the Kidney Yang

Treatment: Zhuang Yang Yi Jing Wan (Epimedium & Ginseng Formula) for 4 weeks.


After one week, energy levels increased and she had no severe asthma attacks. She only needed to use Ventolin twice during this time.

From the second to fourth weeks, although she experienced some discomfort on cold days, she did not have any asthma attacks.

She was advised to continued taking the above formula for a further two 2 weeks, at the end of which time she reported that she had not had any attacks and did not use her Ventolin at all. This amounts to a clinical remission.


Because the patient has had this condition over the long term, the pathology had become very deep and reached the Kidney. Thus, the main pathodynamic in this case is Kidney Yang deficiency with failure of the Kidney to receive the Qi from the Lung. The Ming dynasty physician Zhang Jing-yue (c.1563-1640; original name: Zhang Jiebin) explains this as follows: ‘The Lung is the governor of the Qi and the Kidney is the root of the Qi’ (from the ‘Jing Yue Quan Shu’, 1624).

The successful outcome in this case is due to the fact that the patient is still young and in prime of her life. Thus, tonification of the Kidney, which one would expect to take considerably longer in an older person, produced a quick and strong result for this patient. The traditional teaching from Zhang Jing-yue about the Kidney being the root of the Qi is relevant here. By applying this teaching in the correct way, I was able to achieve a very good clinical result.