Cholecystitis according to Chinese Medicine

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In Chinese Medicine, cholecystitis can be associated with seven so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here cholecystitis can be caused by seven different patterns.

To understand whether someone's cholecystitis might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from cholecystitis alone. For instance when cholecystitis is caused by the pattern Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen, patients also experience symptoms such as chest fullness, chest pain, anemia and dizziness. Similarly, patients with Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen typically exhibit empty (Xu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

We've listed below a description of the seven patterns associated with cholecystitis so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below nine formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with cholecystitis, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The seven "patterns of disharmony" associated with cholecystitis

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen

Cholecystitis might be due to Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as chest fullness, chest pain, anemia and dizziness. Similarly, patients with Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen typically exhibit empty (Xu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen here

The Bladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Bladder in Chinese Medicine

Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat

Cholecystitis might be due to Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, dizziness or vertigo, dream disturbed sleep with strange or unusual dreams and palpitations. Similarly, patients with Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with yellow coating.

Read more about Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat here

The Bladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Bladder in Chinese Medicine

Heat in Gall Bladder

Cholecystitis might be due to Heat in Gall Bladder if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as mild chills alternating with pronounced fever, bitter taste in the mouth, stifling sensation in the chest and spitting up bitter or sour fluids. Similarly, patients with Heat in Gall Bladder typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with thick coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Heat in Gall Bladder here

The Lungs is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Lungs in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm Heat in the Lungs

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Symptoms: Clump Phlegm Chest pain Constipation Epigastric pain Clumping in the chest Bitter taste in the mouth Epigastric focal distention Focal distention of the chest Coughing of copious thick yellow sputum

Cholecystitis might be due to Phlegm Heat in the Lungs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as constipation, bitter taste in the mouth, coughing of copious thick yellow sputum and chest pain. Similarly, patients with Phlegm Heat in the Lungs typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Phlegm Heat in the Lungs here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Heat in Yang brightness Organs

Pulse type(s): Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Grey or black coating, Yellow coating

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Flatulence Focal distention Abdominal fullness Severe constipation Tense and firm abdomen Abdominal pain that increases upon pressure

Cholecystitis might be due to Heat in Yang brightness Organs if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as severe constipation, flatulence, focal distention and abdominal fullness. Similarly, patients with Heat in Yang brightness Organs typically exhibit full (Shi) pulses as well as a tongue with grey or black coating, yellow coating.

Read more about Heat in Yang brightness Organs here

Rhubarb (Da Huang) is the key herb for Da Cheng Qi Tang, a formula used for Yang Excess

Yang Excess

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Da Cheng Qi Tang

Symptoms: Fever Thirst Red face Irritability Restlnessness Scanty dark urination Yellow vaginal discharge

Yang Excess is a Full Yang state and its symptoms are similar to those are caused by the Heat Pernicious invasion. Yang is associated with Heat, activity and Dryness and these are the general symptoms when patients have Excess Yang. However, they become more specific depending on the Organ involved. For instance, Excess Liver Yang can cause migraines, or Excess Heart Yang can result in manic behavior and extreme restlessness. When there is Excess Yang, the body is in a hyperfunctional state. Over time, the Body Fluids can be "burned off" by the presence of Excessive Yang, resulting in a condition of Yin Deficiency.

Excess Yang is most likely caused by the Heat Pernicious Influence, either External or Internal. It can also be caused by internal damage from the Seven Emotions, the Stagnation of Qi or Blood, over-exposure to hot climates or environments, indigestion, and the over consumption of hot-natured and fried greasy foods, coffee, alcohol and red meat.

Read more about Yang Excess here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Jin Ling Zi San

Symptoms: Hernial pain Irritability Bitter taste in the mouth Intermittent epigastric pain Painful periods that get worse with hot food or drinks

Cholecystitis might be due to Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as intermittent epigastric pain, hernial pain, painful periods that get worse with hot food or drinks and irritability. Similarly, patients with Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat here

The nine herbal formulas that might help with cholecystitis

Da Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges Heat from the Stomach and Intestines. Relieves constipation.

Why might Da Cheng Qi Tang help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Heat in Yang brightness Organs and Yang Excess which are sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Da Cheng Qi Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen, a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat, a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Source date: Qing Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Heat in Gall Bladder, a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from Heat in Gall Bladder, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang here

Xiao Xian Xiong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Phlegm. Expands the chest. Dissipates clumps.

Why might Xiao Xian Xiong Tang help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm Heat in the Lungs, a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm Heat in the Lungs, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Xian Xiong Tang here

Jin Ling Zi San

Source date: 992 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Moves Liver Blood and Liver Qi. Drains Liver Heat or Fire. Stops pain.

Why might Jin Ling Zi San help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat, a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Jin Ling Zi San here

Si Ni San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Regulates Liver and Spleen. Eliminates Internal Heat.

Why might Si Ni San help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Si Ni San here

Bao He Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Reduces food stagnation. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Bao He Wan help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Bao He Wan here

Wu Mei Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Organs. Drains Heat. Calms roundworms. Drains the Liver. Calms the Stomach.

Why might Wu Mei Wan help with cholecystitis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with cholecystitis. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wu Mei Wan here