English: Pig galls

Chinese: 猪胆

Parts used: The pig gall often in the form of bile or bile powder

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Large intestine Liver Lung

Scientific name: Sus scrofa domesticus

Other names: Pig gallbladder, Pig bile, Pig bile powder

Use of Zhu Dan (pig galls) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Collect the pig's gallbladder, clean, press and dry. Or collect the fresh bile and make it to powder.

Dosage: 6-9g

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Toxic-Heat. Moistens the Intestines and unblock stools.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Zhu Dan may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Constipation Coughing Wheezing Red eyes Jaundice Sore throat Sores Eczema Carbuncles Furuncles

Common TCM formulas in which Zhu Dan is used*

Fei Er Wan

Source date: 1156 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Kills parasites. Reduces accumulation. Strengthens the Spleen. Clears Heat.

Conditions targeted*: AscariasisHookworm and others

Zhu Dan is an envoy ingredient in Fei Er Wan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Fei Er Wan, Zhu Dan , when combined Goldthread rhizome, it drains accumulated Stomach Heat, and conducts the actions of the other ingredients into the Stomach.

Read more about Fei Er Wan

Key TCM concepts behind Zhu Dan's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Zhu Dan belongs to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category Zhu Dan is Cold in nature. This means that Zhu Dan typically helps people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Zhu Dan can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Zhu Dan also tastes Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Zhu Dan tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Zhu Dan is thought to target the Gallbladder, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Lung. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. The Large Intestine on the other hand receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.