Bitter Taste In The Mouthaccording to TCM

What is Bitter Taste in the Mouth?

A bitter taste in the mouth is a distinct and persistent sense of bitterness that can affect one's ability to enjoy food and drink. It can be a transient or a lingering ailment, often indicating an underlying condition. Synonyms for this symptom include bad taste, bitterness in the mouth, and an unpleasant taste that can occur without an obvious cause.

How does TCM view Bitter Taste in the Mouth?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees a bitter taste in the mouth as an indication of imbalance within the body’s internal landscape. According to TCM, this symptom is not isolated but connected to the state of the internal organs, especially the Heart, Pericardium, Liver and Gallbladder.

Recognizing the specific disharmony causing this taste is crucial for TCM practitioners to provide an accurate and effective treatment plan, as it reflects the health of the body’s Qi, or vital energy.

Root Causes of Bitter Taste In The Mouth in TCM

TCM attributes a bitter taste in the mouth to various internal imbalances, notably Heat accumulation. Heat can stem from emotional stress leading to pattens such as Liver Qi Stagnation transforming into Fire or from an imbalance in the Stomach and Gallbladder causing Damp-Heat. These patterns disrupt the harmony of Qi flow and can manifest in the sensory experience as a bitter or unpleasant taste.

Explore below more details about what might cause Bitter taste in the mouth according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • By Organ
Detailed description of the cause

Heat

In TCM "Heat" signifies an excess of Yang energy, leading to an imbalance where heat predominates over the body's cool Yin aspects. This condition is metaphorically akin to an internal over-heating. Symptoms indicative of Heat can include feelings of warmth, fever, sweating, irritability, red face, thirst with a preference for cold drinks, and a rapid pulse. The tongue may appear red with a yellow coating. Unlike the common interpretation of heat in terms of temperature, in TCM, it represents a state of hyperactivity or inflammation in the body.... see more

Heat Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Thirst Dizziness Flushed Face Anxiety Insomnia Feeling Hot Restlessness Irritability

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Fever, Neck gland swelling, Headaches, Tight feeling in chest and stomach, Sticky taste in the mouth, Absence of thirst, Feeling hot, Feeling of heaviness, Acne... see more Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San | Lian Po Yin | Yin Chen Hao Tang | Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan | Er Miao San | Xiao Yao San | Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang
Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Hypochondriac distention, Nausea or vomiting, Fat malabsorption, Dull yellow complexion, Scanty and dark urine, Fever, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Dizziness, Tinnitus, Irritability, Feeling of heaviness, Limb numbness, Foot edema, Alternating diarrhea and constipation, Alternating sensation of hot and cold, Yellow sclera... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang
Damp-Heat in the Liver Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondrial fullness with warmth relief, Abdominal fullness, Lower abdominal fullness, Sticky taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Nausea, Feeling of heaviness, Yellow vaginal discharge, Vaginal itching, Vulvar eczema, Vulvar sores, Bleeding between periods, Midcycle bleeding pain, Red and swollen scrotum, Red and swelling genital, Papules, Itchy vesicular rashes, Urinary dysfunction, Urinary burning, Dark urine... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang | Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Damp-Heat invading the Spleen Bitter taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Feeling of heaviness, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Nausea or vomiting, Malodorous diarrhea, Anal burning, Feeling hot, Scanty and dark urine, Low grade fever, Dull headache, Dull yellow complexion, Yellow sclera, Oily sweat, Itchy rashes, Upper abdominal fullness, Upper abdominal pain... see more Lian Po Yin
Heat in the Blood Bitter taste in the mouth, Feeling hot, Red skin eruptions, Thirst, Frequent bleeding, Bloody sputum, Hematochezia, Hematuria, Vomiting blood, Hemoptysis, Nosebleeds, Excessive menstruation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Qing Jing San | Jia Wei Xiao Yao San | Liang Di Tang | Di Gu Pi Yin
Gallbladder Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Alternating sensation of hot and cold, Thirst, Dry throat, Hypochondriac pain, Nausea, Upper abdominal fullness... see more Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang
Half Exterior Half Interior Bitter taste in the mouth, Chest distension, Dry cough, Anxiety, Restlessness, Vomit, Lack of appetite, Dizziness, Blurry vision... see more Xiao Chai Hu Tang
Heart Fire blazing Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Insomnia, Flushed face, Hematuria, Dark urine... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan | Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin
Heat in Lessor Yang Bitter taste in the mouth, Fever, Abdominal pain, Diarrhea, Sticky taste in the mouth, Malodorous diarrhea, Anal irritation, Upper abdominal burning pain, Tenesmus... see more Huang Qin Tang
Liver Fire Blazing Bitter taste in the mouth, Irritability, Anger, Tinnitus, Deafness, Temporal headache, Dizziness, Flushed face, Eye hyperemia, Thirst, Vivid dreaming, Constipation, Dry stools, Dark urine, Nosebleeds, Hemoptysis, Vomiting blood... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Dang Gui Long Hui Wan | Xie Qing Wan
Liver Fire insulting the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Shortness of breath, Asthma, Hypochondriac pain and discomfort, Cough with yellow or blood tinged sputum, Headaches, Dizziness, Flushed face, Thirst, Eye hyperemia, Scanty and dark urine, Constipation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Ke Xie Fang
Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Tremors, Irritability, Anger, Tinnitus, Deafness, Temporal headache, Dizziness, Flushed face, Eye hyperemia, Thirst, Vivid dreaming, Constipation, Dry stools, Dark urine, Nosebleeds, Vomiting blood, Hemoptysis... see more Zi Xue Dan | Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang | Feng Yin Tang
Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac distention, Upper abdominal distension, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Irritability, Melancholia, Depression, Mood swings, Globus sensation, Feeling hot, Flushed face, Thirst, Anger, Pre menstrual tension, Irregular periods, Pre menstrual breast distension, Excessive menstruation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Jia Wei Xiao Yao San | Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang | Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Pericardium Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Stifling sensation in the chest, Insomnia, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Cardiac burning sensation, Rapid respiration, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Vivid dreaming, Excessive menstruation... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan
Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Chest pain, Rapid respiration... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Zhi Bao Dan | Hui Chun Dan
Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Sheng Tie Luo Yin
Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Coughing, Shortness of breath, Wheezing, Stifling sensation in the chest, Sputum, Feeling hot, Thirst, Head and body heaviness, Dizziness, Copious thick yellow sputum... see more Xiao Xian Xiong Tang
Heat in Gall Bladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Mild chills with high fever, Stifling sensation in the chest, Vomiting of sour fluids, Thirst, Hypochondriac pain and discomfort, Nausea, Upper abdominal fullness, Cholecystitis, Icteric hepatitis, Kidney infection... see more Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang
Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Intermittent upper abdominal pain, Hernia-Related pain, Dysmenorrhea exacerbated by hot food or drinks, Irritability, Peptic ulcer, Chronic gastritis, Hepatitis, Cholecystitis... see more Jin Ling Zi San
Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Headaches, Dizziness, Red and irritated eyes, Hearing loss, Ear swelling, Irritability, Painful urination, Swollen and itchy external genitalia, Foul-Smelling vaginal discharge... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Nausea or vomiting, Vertigo, Vivid dreaming, Palpitations, Anxiety, Excessive hunger, Focal distention of the chest, Slight thirst, Copious thick yellow sputum, Hypertension... see more Wen Dan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Mind Disturbance

In TCM "Shen" refers to the mind or spirit, and a Shen disturbance is a pattern of disharmony that affects the mental and emotional state. This concept reflects the TCM belief in the deep interconnectedness of mind and body. Symptoms of Shen disturbance can vary widely but often include anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, confusion, or in severe cases, hallucinations or delirium. These symptoms indicate an imbalance in the body's energies affecting the heart, which in TCM is not only the center of blood circulation but also the seat of the mind and consciousness. The root of Shen disturbance can be traced to various factors, including emotional stress, physical illness, or an imbalance in fundamental substances like Qi, Yin, or Yang.... see more

Mind Disturbance Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Palpitations Thirst Restlessness Anxiety Insomnia Flushed Face Vivid Dreaming Mouth Ulcers

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Heart Fire blazing Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Insomnia, Flushed face, Hematuria, Dark urine... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan | Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin
Pericardium Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Stifling sensation in the chest, Insomnia, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Cardiac burning sensation, Rapid respiration, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Vivid dreaming, Excessive menstruation... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan
Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Chest pain, Rapid respiration... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Zhi Bao Dan | Hui Chun Dan
Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Sheng Tie Luo Yin
Detailed description of the cause

Phlegm

In TCM "Phlegm" as a pattern of disharmony is a complex concept that extends beyond the physical manifestation of mucus. It represents a pathological factor that can disrupt the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, leading to various health issues. Phlegm in TCM is seen as a sticky, turbid substance arising from the body's inability to metabolize fluids properly, often due to a dysfunction of the spleen. It's not only associated with respiratory problems like cough and congestion but also with systemic issues. Symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness, mental cloudiness, dizziness, and in some cases, the formation of lumps or masses. Phlegm can even be "invisible," contributing to emotional disturbances like depression or stress. ... see more

Phlegm Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Insomnia Anxiety Palpitations Vivid Dreaming Depression Thirst Sputum Flushed Face

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Chest pain, Rapid respiration... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Zhi Bao Dan | Hui Chun Dan
Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Sheng Tie Luo Yin
Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Coughing, Shortness of breath, Wheezing, Stifling sensation in the chest, Sputum, Feeling hot, Thirst, Head and body heaviness, Dizziness, Copious thick yellow sputum... see more Xiao Xian Xiong Tang
Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Nausea or vomiting, Vertigo, Vivid dreaming, Palpitations, Anxiety, Excessive hunger, Focal distention of the chest, Slight thirst, Copious thick yellow sputum, Hypertension... see more Wen Dan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Dampness

"Dampness" in TCM is a concept that describes a pattern of disharmony where the body accumulates excess moisture. Imagine the heavy, sticky feeling you get on a very humid day; that's similar to what dampness feels like internally. It can manifest as a sense of heaviness, bloating, sluggishness, or even a foggy mind. This condition is often thought to arise from environmental factors like living in a damp place, dietary habits that promote moisture in the body, or internal imbalances that hinder the body's ability to process fluids properly. In TCM, dampness can obstruct the normal flow of energy and fluids in the body, leading to various symptoms.... see more

Dampness Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Feeling Of Heaviness Fever Scanty And Dark Urine Lack Of Appetite Sticky Taste In The Mouth Feeling Hot Abdominal Fullness Menstrual Cramps

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Fever, Neck gland swelling, Headaches, Tight feeling in chest and stomach, Sticky taste in the mouth, Absence of thirst, Feeling hot, Feeling of heaviness, Acne... see more Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San | Lian Po Yin | Yin Chen Hao Tang | Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan | Er Miao San | Xiao Yao San | Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang
Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Hypochondriac distention, Nausea or vomiting, Fat malabsorption, Dull yellow complexion, Scanty and dark urine, Fever, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Dizziness, Tinnitus, Irritability, Feeling of heaviness, Limb numbness, Foot edema, Alternating diarrhea and constipation, Alternating sensation of hot and cold, Yellow sclera... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang
Damp-Heat in the Liver Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondrial fullness with warmth relief, Abdominal fullness, Lower abdominal fullness, Sticky taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Nausea, Feeling of heaviness, Yellow vaginal discharge, Vaginal itching, Vulvar eczema, Vulvar sores, Bleeding between periods, Midcycle bleeding pain, Red and swollen scrotum, Red and swelling genital, Papules, Itchy vesicular rashes, Urinary dysfunction, Urinary burning, Dark urine... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang | Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Damp-Heat invading the Spleen Bitter taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Feeling of heaviness, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Nausea or vomiting, Malodorous diarrhea, Anal burning, Feeling hot, Scanty and dark urine, Low grade fever, Dull headache, Dull yellow complexion, Yellow sclera, Oily sweat, Itchy rashes, Upper abdominal fullness, Upper abdominal pain... see more Lian Po Yin
Detailed description of the cause

Qi Stagnation

Qi Stagnation in TCM is like having a traffic jam in your body's energy system. Qi, the vital life force that flows through your body, is supposed to move smoothly to maintain health and balance. But with Qi Stagnation, this flow gets blocked or slowed down, like cars stuck on a highway. This can lead to symptoms like feeling stressed, emotional mood swings, and physical discomfort, often described as a feeling of fullness or tightness, especially in the chest or abdomen. It's as though the body's internal energy circulation is disrupted, causing various issues. TCM sees this as an energy flow problem, different from modern medicine's focus on specific physiological processes.... see more

Qi Stagnation Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Irritability Peptic Ulcer Chronic Gastritis Cholecystitis Depression Insomnia Intermittent Upper Abdominal Pain Hernia-Related Pain

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac distention, Upper abdominal distension, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Irritability, Melancholia, Depression, Mood swings, Globus sensation, Feeling hot, Flushed face, Thirst, Anger, Pre menstrual tension, Irregular periods, Pre menstrual breast distension, Excessive menstruation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Jia Wei Xiao Yao San | Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang | Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Intermittent upper abdominal pain, Hernia-Related pain, Dysmenorrhea exacerbated by hot food or drinks, Irritability, Peptic ulcer, Chronic gastritis, Hepatitis, Cholecystitis... see more Jin Ling Zi San
Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Nausea or vomiting, Vertigo, Vivid dreaming, Palpitations, Anxiety, Excessive hunger, Focal distention of the chest, Slight thirst, Copious thick yellow sputum, Hypertension... see more Wen Dan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Wind

In TCM "Wind" is a concept that represents a pattern of disharmony, often characterized by its sudden and unpredictable nature, much like a gusty wind changing direction without warning. This pattern is associated with symptoms that come and go quickly or move around the body, such as itching, tremors, or even certain types of pain. Wind is considered to be a primary cause of illnesses that have these rapidly changing characteristics. In TCM, external Wind often refers to illnesses that start suddenly, like the common cold, believed to be caused by external pathogenic factors like climatic changes. On the other hand, internal Wind can be linked to internal imbalances and can manifest in conditions like dizziness or spasms. ... see more

Wind Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Tremors, Irritability, Anger, Tinnitus, Deafness, Temporal headache, Dizziness, Flushed face, Eye hyperemia, Thirst, Vivid dreaming, Constipation, Dry stools, Dark urine, Nosebleeds, Vomiting blood, Hemoptysis... see more Zi Xue Dan | Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang | Feng Yin Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Liver

In TCM the Liver is viewed as the organ responsible for the smooth flow of Qi, Blood, and emotions throughout the body. It plays a key role in regulating mood, storing blood, supporting digestion, and ensuring the health of tendons and eyes. When the Liver malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to a range of issues such as irritability, mood swings, menstrual irregularities, eye problems, and muscular stiffness or pain. A malfunctioning Liver in TCM reflects not only physical disturbances but also emotional and mental disharmony, emphasizing the holistic approach of TCM in addressing health and wellness.... see more

Liver Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Irritability Dizziness Flushed Face Eye Hyperemia Thirst Constipation Dark Urine Anger

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Heat in the Liver Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondrial fullness with warmth relief, Abdominal fullness, Lower abdominal fullness, Sticky taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Nausea, Feeling of heaviness, Yellow vaginal discharge, Vaginal itching, Vulvar eczema, Vulvar sores, Bleeding between periods, Midcycle bleeding pain, Red and swollen scrotum, Red and swelling genital, Papules, Itchy vesicular rashes, Urinary dysfunction, Urinary burning, Dark urine... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang | Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Liver Fire Blazing Bitter taste in the mouth, Irritability, Anger, Tinnitus, Deafness, Temporal headache, Dizziness, Flushed face, Eye hyperemia, Thirst, Vivid dreaming, Constipation, Dry stools, Dark urine, Nosebleeds, Hemoptysis, Vomiting blood... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Dang Gui Long Hui Wan | Xie Qing Wan
Liver Fire insulting the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Shortness of breath, Asthma, Hypochondriac pain and discomfort, Cough with yellow or blood tinged sputum, Headaches, Dizziness, Flushed face, Thirst, Eye hyperemia, Scanty and dark urine, Constipation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Ke Xie Fang
Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Tremors, Irritability, Anger, Tinnitus, Deafness, Temporal headache, Dizziness, Flushed face, Eye hyperemia, Thirst, Vivid dreaming, Constipation, Dry stools, Dark urine, Nosebleeds, Vomiting blood, Hemoptysis... see more Zi Xue Dan | Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang | Feng Yin Tang
Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac distention, Upper abdominal distension, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Irritability, Melancholia, Depression, Mood swings, Globus sensation, Feeling hot, Flushed face, Thirst, Anger, Pre menstrual tension, Irregular periods, Pre menstrual breast distension, Excessive menstruation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Jia Wei Xiao Yao San | Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang | Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Intermittent upper abdominal pain, Hernia-Related pain, Dysmenorrhea exacerbated by hot food or drinks, Irritability, Peptic ulcer, Chronic gastritis, Hepatitis, Cholecystitis... see more Jin Ling Zi San
Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Headaches, Dizziness, Red and irritated eyes, Hearing loss, Ear swelling, Irritability, Painful urination, Swollen and itchy external genitalia, Foul-Smelling vaginal discharge... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Gallbladder

In TCM the Gallbladder has a unique role in storing and excreting bile, but more importantly, it's seen as crucial for decision-making and courage. It's closely connected to the Liver, assisting in the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) and supporting the Liver's role in maintaining emotional balance. When the Gallbladder malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to physical symptoms like gallstones, jaundice, or a bitter taste in the mouth. There might also be digestive disturbances, particularly related to fat metabolism. On an emotional level, a Gallbladder disorder can manifest as indecisiveness, timidity, or a tendency to easily succumb to stress. These symptoms highlight the TCM view of the Gallbladder as integral to both physical processes and emotional resilience.... see more

Gallbladder Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Hypochondriac Pain Nausea Or Vomiting Dizziness Irritability Alternating Sensation Of Hot And Cold Thirst Nausea Upper Abdominal Fullness

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Hypochondriac distention, Nausea or vomiting, Fat malabsorption, Dull yellow complexion, Scanty and dark urine, Fever, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Dizziness, Tinnitus, Irritability, Feeling of heaviness, Limb numbness, Foot edema, Alternating diarrhea and constipation, Alternating sensation of hot and cold, Yellow sclera... see more Yin Chen Hao Tang
Gallbladder Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Alternating sensation of hot and cold, Thirst, Dry throat, Hypochondriac pain, Nausea, Upper abdominal fullness... see more Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang
Heat in Gall Bladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Mild chills with high fever, Stifling sensation in the chest, Vomiting of sour fluids, Thirst, Hypochondriac pain and discomfort, Nausea, Upper abdominal fullness, Cholecystitis, Icteric hepatitis, Kidney infection... see more Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang
Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder Bitter taste in the mouth, Hypochondriac pain, Headaches, Dizziness, Red and irritated eyes, Hearing loss, Ear swelling, Irritability, Painful urination, Swollen and itchy external genitalia, Foul-Smelling vaginal discharge... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Nausea or vomiting, Vertigo, Vivid dreaming, Palpitations, Anxiety, Excessive hunger, Focal distention of the chest, Slight thirst, Copious thick yellow sputum, Hypertension... see more Wen Dan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Heart

In TCM the Heart is considered the "emperor" of all organs, primarily responsible for governing Blood and housing the mind, known as "Shen." It plays a crucial role in maintaining mental-emotional equilibrium and controlling the circulation of Qi and blood throughout the body. When the Heart is imbalanced or malfunctions in TCM, it can lead to a range of issues like heart palpitations, insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, and a flushed complexion. Emotional disturbances such as excessive joy or lack of joy are also seen as signs of Heart disharmony. These symptoms reflect not just physical heart conditions but also the state of one's Shen, indicating the interconnectedness of physical and emotional well-being in TCM.... see more

Heart Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Palpitations Thirst Restlessness Anxiety Insomnia Flushed Face Vivid Dreaming Mouth Ulcers

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Heart Fire blazing Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Insomnia, Flushed face, Hematuria, Dark urine... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan | Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin
Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Sheng Tie Luo Yin
Detailed description of the cause

Lung

In TCM the Lungs are seen as the organ responsible for controlling Qi and respiration, as well as being a key part of the body's defensive system. They are thought to maintain the balance and flow of air and moisture, and are closely linked to the skin and hair. When the Lungs are imbalanced or malfunctioning in TCM, it can lead to respiratory issues like coughing or asthma, a weakened immune system, dry skin, and emotional disturbances such as sadness or grief. These symptoms are believed to arise from disruptions in the Lungs' ability to regulate Qi and protect the body, highlighting their central role in maintaining overall health and well-being.... see more

Lung Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Shortness Of Breath Asthma Dizziness Thirst Constipation Hypochondriac Pain And Discomfort Cough With Yellow Or Blood Tinged Sputum Headaches

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Liver Fire insulting the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Shortness of breath, Asthma, Hypochondriac pain and discomfort, Cough with yellow or blood tinged sputum, Headaches, Dizziness, Flushed face, Thirst, Eye hyperemia, Scanty and dark urine, Constipation... see more Long Dan Xie Gan Tang | Ke Xie Fang
Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs Bitter taste in the mouth, Coughing, Shortness of breath, Wheezing, Stifling sensation in the chest, Sputum, Feeling hot, Thirst, Head and body heaviness, Dizziness, Copious thick yellow sputum... see more Xiao Xian Xiong Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Pericardium

In TCM the Pericardium is more than a physical membrane protecting the heart; it's considered an organ system that acts as the "Heart's protector." It plays a crucial role in safeguarding the heart from external pathogenic factors and emotional disturbances. The Pericardium is also involved in regulating blood circulation and influencing emotional well-being, especially in terms of relationships and intimacy. When the Pericardium malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to symptoms that mirror heart issues, such as chest pain or palpitations, but often with an emotional component like difficulty in forming emotional connections or excessive vulnerability to external stressors. Additionally, a disturbed Pericardium can result in sleep disturbances, anxiety, and in severe cases, mental confusion, reflecting its integral role in both physical heart protection and emotional balance.... see more

Pericardium Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Common Symptoms: Palpitations Insomnia Thirst Rapid Respiration Restlessness Anxiety Vivid Dreaming Flushed Face

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Pericardium Fire Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Stifling sensation in the chest, Insomnia, Thirst, Mouth ulcers, Tongue ulcers, Cardiac burning sensation, Rapid respiration, Restlessness, Anxiety, Feeling hot, Vivid dreaming, Excessive menstruation... see more Xie Xin Tang | Zi Xue Dan
Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium Bitter taste in the mouth, Palpitations, Flushed face, Noisy breathing, Restlessness, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Anxiety, Incoherent or confused speech, Confusion, Rash behaviour, Uncontrolled laughing or crying, Verbal aggression, Talking to oneself, Depression, Dull shallow face, Aggression, Feeling of oppression of the chest, Chest pain, Rapid respiration... see more Wen Dan Tang | Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang | Zhi Bao Dan | Hui Chun Dan
Detailed description of the cause

Spleen

In TCM the Spleen plays a vital role in digestion and transformation, converting food into energy and nutrients, and overseeing the distribution of Qi and Blood. It's also crucial in maintaining the health of muscles and limbs and ensuring the blood remains within the vessels. When the Spleen malfunctions in TCM, it can lead to a variety of issues such as digestive disorders, fatigue, weak muscles, bloating, and a feeling of heaviness. It can also cause a pale complexion, poor appetite, and a tendency to bruise easily. Emotionally, a Spleen imbalance is often associated with excessive worry or overthinking, reflecting its role in the interplay between physical and mental health.... see more

Spleen Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Damp-Heat invading the Spleen Bitter taste in the mouth, Lack of appetite, Feeling of heaviness, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Nausea or vomiting, Malodorous diarrhea, Anal burning, Feeling hot, Scanty and dark urine, Low grade fever, Dull headache, Dull yellow complexion, Yellow sclera, Oily sweat, Itchy rashes, Upper abdominal fullness, Upper abdominal pain... see more Lian Po Yin
Detailed description of the cause

Stomach

In TCM the Stomach is regarded as the "sea of nourishment," pivotal for digesting food and transforming it into Qi and blood. It works closely with the Spleen to distribute these essential nutrients throughout the body. When the Stomach is out of balance or malfunctions in TCM, it often leads to digestive problems such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, or a feeling of fullness. There may also be issues like acid reflux or a sour taste in the mouth. Emotionally, an imbalanced Stomach can contribute to excessive worry and overthinking, reflecting the TCM belief that physical and emotional well-being are deeply interconnected.... see more

Stomach Patterns That Can Lead to Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat Bitter taste in the mouth, Nausea or vomiting, Vertigo, Vivid dreaming, Palpitations, Anxiety, Excessive hunger, Focal distention of the chest, Slight thirst, Copious thick yellow sputum, Hypertension... see more Wen Dan Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Bitter Taste In The Mouth

Addressing the bitter taste involves cooling the Heat and resolving Dampness within the body. TCM may utilize formulas like Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San to transform Dampness and harmonize the Stomach when Damp-Heat is present.

For Heart or Pericardium Fire, which also presents with symptoms of restlessness and insomnia, a practitioner might prescribe Xie Xin Tang to clear Heat and resolve toxicity. Each treatment is tailored to the patient's unique pattern of disharmony, focusing on restoring balance and eliminating the bitter taste.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address bitter taste in the mouth, organized by cause and by formula type.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that clear heat from the organs
  • Formulas that clear heat and expel dampness
  • Formulas that clear heat and open sensory orifices
  • Formulas that harmonize liver-Spleen
  • Formulas that nourish yin and tonify
  • Formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders
  • Formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm
  • Formulas that transform dampness and harmonize stomach
  • Formulas that clear blood-Heat
  • Formulas that clear heat and resolve toxicity
  • Formulas that promote qi movement
  • Formulas that stop bleeding
  • Formulas that pacify and extinguish internal wind
  • Formulas that dredge and disperse external wind
  • Formulas that expel dampness
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation
  • Formulas that sedate and calm the mind
  • Formulas that clear liver-Heat
  • Formulas that clear heat and transform phlegm

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Heat

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Damp-Heat in the Liver, Heat in the Blood, Liver Fire Blazing, Liver Fire insulting the Lungs, Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder, Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire... see more
Yin Chen Hao Tang Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder, Damp-Heat in the Liver
Zi Xue Dan Heart Fire blazing, Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire, Pericardium Fire... see more
Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart, Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat... see more
Lian Po Yin Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat invading the Spleen
Jia Wei Xiao Yao San Heat in the Blood, Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang Gallbladder Heat, Heat in Gall Bladder
Xie Xin Tang Heart Fire blazing, Pericardium Fire
Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Xiao Chai Hu Tang Half Exterior Half Interior
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San Damp-Heat
Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan Damp-Heat
Er Miao San Damp-Heat
Xiao Yao San Damp-Heat
Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang Damp-Heat
Qing Jing San Heat in the Blood
Liang Di Tang Heat in the Blood
Di Gu Pi Yin Heat in the Blood
Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin Heart Fire blazing
Huang Qin Tang Heat in Lessor Yang
Jin Ling Zi San Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat
Dang Gui Long Hui Wan Liver Fire Blazing
Xie Qing Wan Liver Fire Blazing
Ke Xie Fang Liver Fire insulting the Lungs
Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire
Feng Yin Tang Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire
Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Zhi Bao Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Hui Chun Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Sheng Tie Luo Yin Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Xiao Xian Xiong Tang Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Mind Disturbance

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Zi Xue Dan Heart Fire blazing, Pericardium Fire
Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Xie Xin Tang Heart Fire blazing, Pericardium Fire
Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin Heart Fire blazing
Zhi Bao Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Hui Chun Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Sheng Tie Luo Yin Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Phlegm

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart, Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat... see more
Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Zhi Bao Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Hui Chun Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Sheng Tie Luo Yin Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart
Xiao Xian Xiong Tang Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Dampness

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Yin Chen Hao Tang Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder, Damp-Heat in the Liver
Lian Po Yin Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat invading the Spleen
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Damp-Heat in the Liver
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi San Damp-Heat
Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan Damp-Heat
Er Miao San Damp-Heat
Xiao Yao San Damp-Heat
Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang Damp-Heat

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Qi Stagnation

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Wen Dan Tang Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat
Jia Wei Xiao Yao San Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Jin Ling Zi San Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat
Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire

All Formulas Recommended for Bitter Taste In The Mouth Caused by Wind

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Zi Xue Dan Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire
Ling Jiao Gou Teng Tang Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire
Feng Yin Tang Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire

All "formulas that clear heat from the organs" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Damp-Heat in the Liver, Heat in the Blood, Liver Fire Blazing, Liver Fire insulting the Lungs, Heat Excess in the Liver or Gallbladder, Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire... see more
Qing Xin Lian Zi Yin Heart Fire blazing
Huang Qin Tang Heat in Lessor Yang
Dang Gui Long Hui Wan Liver Fire Blazing
Xie Qing Wan Liver Fire Blazing

All "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Yin Chen Hao Tang Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder, Damp-Heat in the Liver
Lian Po Yin Damp-Heat, Damp-Heat invading the Spleen
Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan Damp-Heat
Qing Re Tiao Xue Tang Damp-Heat

All "formulas that clear heat and open sensory orifices" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Zi Xue Dan Heart Fire blazing, Liver Wind agitating Internally due to Liver Fire, Pericardium Fire... see more
Zhi Bao Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium
Hui Chun Dan Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium

All "formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang Gallbladder Heat, Heat in Gall Bladder
Xiao Chai Hu Tang Half Exterior Half Interior, Lesser Yang stage

All "formulas that harmonize liver-Spleen" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Jia Wei Xiao Yao San Heat in the Blood, Stagnant Liver Qi turning into Fire
Xiao Yao San Damp-Heat

All "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart, Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat... see more
Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang Phlegm Fire harassing the Pericardium, Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

All "formulas that nourish yin and tonify" recommended for bitter taste in the mouth

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Liang Di Tang Heat in the Blood
Di Gu Pi Yin Heat in the Blood

Acupoints for Bitter Taste In The Mouth

TCM acupuncture also plays a role in treating this symptom. Points like Guangming GB-37 are chosen for their ability to clear Liver Qi Stagnation, while Qiuxu GB-40 can resolve Gall Bladder Heat. Acupoints like Riyue GB-24 are utilized to resolve Damp-Heat, and Touqiaoyin GB-11 is selected to subdue rising Liver Yang. These points, when stimulated, are believed to restore the harmonious flow of Qi and address the root cause of the bitter taste.

Explore below some acupoints used to address bitter taste in the mouth, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Gall Bladder Channel
  • Bladder Channel
  • Triple Burner Channel
  • Heart Channel
  • Liver Channel
  • Governing Vessel
Touqiaoyin GB-11

Touqiaoyin GB-11

Posterior and superior to the mastoid process, on the line connecting Tianchong GB-9Fubai GB-10 and Wangu GB-12.

Riyue GB-24

Riyue GB-24

On the mamillary line which is 4 cun lateral to the anterior midline, in the 7th intercostal space, 1 intercostal space below Qimen LIV-14.

Yanglingquan GB-34

Yanglingquan GB-34

In the depression anterior and inferior to the head of the fibula.

Guangming GB-37

Guangming GB-37

5 cun directly above the tip of the external malleolus, on the anterior border of the fibula.

Yangfu GB-38

Yangfu GB-38

4 cun above and slightly anterior to the tip of the external malleolus, on the anterior border of the fibula.

Qiuxu GB-40

Qiuxu GB-40

Anterior and inferior to the external malleolus, in the depression on the lateral side of the tendon of extensor digitorum longus muscle that goes to the little toe.

Danshu BL-19

Danshu BL-19

1.5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of the 10th thoracic vertebra (T10).

Sanjiaoshu BL-22

Sanjiaoshu BL-22

1.5 cun lateral to the lower border of the spinous process of the 1st lumbar vertebra.

Guanchong TB-1

Guanchong TB-1

On the lateral side of the ring finger, about 0.1 cun posterior to the corner of the nail.

Waiguan TB-5

Waiguan TB-5

2 cun above Yangchi TB-4 at the dorsal wrist joint space, between the radius and ulna.

Shaofu HE-8

Shaofu HE-8

On the palmar surface, between the 4th and 5th metacarpal bones. When a fist is made, the point is where the tip of the little finger rests.

Xingjian LIV-2

Xingjian LIV-2

Between the first and second toe, on the dorsum of the foot, 0.5 cun proximal to the interdigital fold.

Zhiyang DU-9

Zhiyang DU-9

On the back midline, in the depression below the spinous process of the 7th thoracic vertebra (T7).