Difficulty swallowing (if it is not a condition related to a neurological disorder or physical event) is connected with liver chi stagnation which means your chi is not flowing smoothly. In TCM the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the throat, oesophagus and the opening of the stomach, that is required for the action of swallowing, needs calmness and a smooth flow of chi. Otherwise you can have a mouthful of food or liquid, but it feels physically impossible to swallow. It is as if there is a blockage in the throat. People also get the feeling of having a lump in the throat.
When I’m doing healthy lifestyle coaching with clients who have difficulty swallowing as one of their symptoms, it is inevitably associated with a whole lot of lifestyle factors that create organ imbalances and block liver chi flow. Emotional stress and an imbalanced lifestyle without time for rest (yin) is a major cause. I’ll always suggest specific relaxation and meditation techniques, and Chinese herbs (Bupleurum and Cyperus) and acupuncture, to calm emotions and nourish yin.
This is essential for your liver, and all your organs and bodily processes to function effectively, plus you could imagine yin as the lubricant for a smooth swallowing mechanism. Nourishing yin is one of the secrets to a happy and healthy life and it helps treat a multitude of other symptoms connected to liver chi stagnation, it reduces emotional stress, and reduces stress levels in general. For a detailed description of a smooth flowing yin nourishing day read my book Clock On To Health (see the kidney chapter for relaxation techniques).
*All symptoms are complex and in TCM, we look at all of the systems of the body, as well as all the circumstances surrounding the onset of any problem, to identify the patterns of causation. So the above is some general advice.