Pleural Effusions and Bai Jie Zi
Pleural effusions – colloquially termed “water on the lungs” – are the result of fluid building up in the pleural space between the lungs and ribcage. In healthy people, this space is narrow, with little clearance between the ribs and lungs.
In people with pleural effusion, though, this space quickly becomes crowded with fluid and can cause a variety of chronic symptoms. Keeping this space clear is the goal for physicians, and one way to do that is with certain beneficial botanicals, such as Bai Jie Zi.
What are the Risks and Signs of Pleural Effusions?
Pleural effusions may be asymptomatic, and when they do produce symptoms, it may be difficult to connect those symptoms to the condition. It is common, after all, for pleural effusions to develop insidiously and cause a slow development of symptoms. As for those symptoms, they may include:
- Unproductive, dry cough
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Inability to breathe unless standing or sitting up straight
Pleural effusions can be caused by a huge variety of medical conditions, including:
- Heart failure
- Cirrhosis (liver scarring)
- Pulmonary embolism
- Kidney disease
There are several rare causes of pleural effusion, too, such as tuberculosis and exposure to asbestos.
How Can Chinese Medicinal Herbs Like Bai Jie Zi Help with Pleural Effusions?
No matter the underlying cause, removing fluid from the pleural space is paramount for physicians. Chinese medicine practitioners rely on herbal formulas to accomplish this, with Bai Jie Zi standing out for its efficacy.
Bai Jie Zi (white mustard seeds) is a warm herb that targets the lungs, where it’s effective at clearing out excess fluid and moving the Qi (essential life energy). Given mustard’s acrid, sinus passage-clearing nature, it is well-suited for clearing out the pleural space and phlegm in general.
Bai Jie Zi is a strong warm herb, and therefore patients with weaker constitutions (ill with chronic disease, for example) should not take it on its own. A Chinese Houston medicine practitioner can identify which herbs to formulate with Bai Jie Zi, and help patients incorporate it into their treatment without complications.