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What is an Herbal Patch?

Originally known as San Fu Tie (三伏貼) and San Jiu Tie (三九貼), or Tian Jiu (天灸) in general, herbal patches are placed on the back during specific summer and winter periods. This practice dates back to the Qing Dynasty, where Oriental Medicine doctors used it to treat upper respiratory conditions like allergies and asthma. Today, it is a widely recognized alternative healing modality across Asia.

Historically, these patches were applied on specific days according to the traditional calendar, known as Geng-Metal (庚日) days. On these days, it is believed that the energetic properties of the herbs align with the Metal element, which corresponds to the Lungs, enhancing the treatment of respiratory conditions. In many Asian countries, people still line up at clinics during summer and winter for these patches.


The herbs used in these patches belong to the category of cold-dispersing herbs, which are typically acrid and hot in nature. The concept is to use these warming herbs to improve the function of internal organs and combat conditions related to Coldness, one of the six causative factors in Oriental Medicine. Chronic cough, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and low immunity are all considered to be caused by Coldness. Applying patches on hot days is believed to amplify their effectiveness.

The patches are placed on specific acupuncture points, mainly along the Bladder Meridian on the back, and sometimes on the extremities, depending on the treatment. The Bladder Meridian is unique as it contains all the connective acupuncture points that correspond to internal organs. The warming properties of the herbs stimulate these points and, consequently, the related organs.

Modern Usage

In recent decades, herbal patches have primarily been used to treat upper respiratory conditions. However, modern clinical research has shown their effectiveness in addressing various other conditions:

  • Asthma [1,2]

  • Allergic rhinitis [2]

  • Allergic bronchitis [3]

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) [4]

  • Frequent colds

  • Cold hands and feet, weak constitution

  • Dysmenorrhea and irregular menstruation

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Rheumatic joint pain


Herbal Patches at Hope Spring Acupuncture

We have extended our herbal patch sessions to 6-9 sessions during the summer, compared to the previous 3 sessions, due to Seattle's shorter summer season. We recommend starting the patches from mid-May until the end of August to accumulate more warm energy in the body. Many patients report feeling warmer and experiencing reduced symptoms, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.

We also recommend 6-9 sessions from late November to early March. The patches' warming nature helps unblock energy and blood circulation, keeping us healthy even in cold temperatures.

To schedule herbal patches, simply inform the receptionist during your regular acupuncture visit. The patches will be applied at the end of your session. We also recommend that younger children try wearing the patches, even without acupuncture, as it can greatly improve symptoms related to upper respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies.

  1. Wei C, Zhang X, Li P, Li W. Acupoint herbal patching during Sanfu Days on reducing frequency of acute asthma attack in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Jan;99(5):e18962. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000018962. PMID: 32000423; PMCID: PMC7004639.

  2. Wen CY, Liu YF, Zhou L, Zhang HX, Tu SH. A Systematic and Narrative Review of Acupuncture Point Application Therapies in the Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma during Dog Days. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:846851. doi: 10.1155/2015/846851. Epub 2015 Oct 12. PMID: 26543488; PMCID: PMC4620249.

  3. Jun JH, Kim KH, Song E, Ang L, Park S. Acupoint herbal patching for bronchitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2022 Jul 1;101(26):e29843. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000029843. PMID: 35777047; PMCID: PMC9239653.

  4. Pang L, Zhang H, Lü X, Liu J, Liu C, Lü L. Preventive and therapeutic effectiveness of Sanfu acupoint herbal patching for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at stable stages: a systematic review and Meta-analysis. J Tradit Chin Med. 2020 Aug;40(4):530-549. doi: 10.19852/j.cnki.jtcm.2020.04.003. PMID: 32744021.


A Natural Way to improve Your Health


Herbal Patches Add-on*


* Herbal patch session is $50 each and only $30 when you purchase a series of six.

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