What Is Plum Pit Qi?

In Chinese medicine there are some really creative descriptions for health conditions. For example, you can have Sudden Turmoil, Fire in the Valley, or Liver Wind. You can also have something called Plum Pit Qi, which aptly describes the sensation of a lump in your throat that feels like a plum pit has become caught there.

Each patient with Plum Pit Qi will describe their symptoms differently. They may say that they feel a painful lump, the inability to swallow, or phlegm caught in their throat. The severity of this condition can run the gamut from occasional episodes and minor discomfort, to being severe, with extreme pain and difficulty eating. Patients may also describe a wide variety of triggers for their Plum Pit Qi, like eating certain foods, drinking alcohol, and emotional upsets.

Plum Pit Qi has both a physical and emotional component. Physically, what’s causing this condition is an esophageal spasm. Your esophagus is a muscular pathway that connects your mouth to your stomach, and like any muscle, can become tight and spastic. When that happens, you have the sensation of a lump in your throat that feels stuck in one place—it won’t move up or down.

The emotional aspect of Plum Pit Qi is that it almost always occurs during a time in your life when you’re struggling in some way. The lump in your throat is telling you what you may or may not already know—that you’re facing a situation that’s figuratively too hard to swallow.

In Chinese medicine, Plum Pit Qi is frequently a combination of a disharmony between your Liver and Spleen, combined with phlegm. One of the tasks of your Chinese Liver system is to oversee the smooth flow of everything in your body. From your blood vessels to your digestive tract, and even your emotions, smooth flow is a key component to good health. Stress and emotional upsets frequently disrupt that flow, especially the mechanism of your digestion, which is governed by your Chinese Spleen. Simply put, a Liver and Spleen disharmony is when strong emotions are upsetting your digestion, and one result can be Plum Pit Qi.

A further element of Plum Pit Qi is the presence of phlegm. In Chinese medicine, there’s visible phlegm; what you see when you have a cough or a cold, and there’s invisible phlegm that’s responsible for lumps and nodules. Frequently invisible phlegm is at play with Plum Pit Qi in the form or sensation of a lump. Interestingly, some people who have this condition will actually describe a feeling of phlegm being caught in their throat.

How Can Plum Pit Qi Be Treated?

When it comes to Plum Pit Qi, there’s good news in that Chinese medicine can treat this condition very effectively. While your acupuncturist will do a thorough diagnosis and choose an appropriate treatment strategy, there are also some very specific points to treat this condition. Your practitioner’s goal is to soothe your Liver, strengthen the digestive properties of your Spleen, resolve the phlegm, and calm your emotions. Your practitioner may also prescribe an herbal formula, as there are some that are formulated specifically treat Plum Pit Qi.

An important piece in resolving Plum Pit Qi is dealing with the stress that’s the underlying cause of this condition. While self-care and managing the stress is essential, acupuncture can also help here, too. A few acupuncture sessions work by changing your brain chemistry to increase the circulation of feel-good neurotransmitters that elevate your mood and help decrease stress.