The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Gua Di San is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Melon Stalks (Gua Di ) as a principal ingredient.
Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that induce vomiting. Its main action is that it discharges Phlegm or food stagnation through vomiting .
In Chinese Medicine health conditions are thought to arise due to "disharmonies" in the body as a system. These disharmonies are called "patterns" and the very purpose of herbal formulas is to fight them in order to restore the body's harmony.
In this case Gua Di San is used by TCM practitioners to fight patterns like Food Stagnation in the Stomach or Phlegm in Chest. From a Western Medicine standpoint, such patterns can give rise to a range of conditions such as oral ingestion of poisons, acute gastritis or neuroses for instance.
On this page, after a detailed description of each of the three ingredients in Gua Di San, we review the patterns and conditions that Gua Di San helps treat.
Gua Di is a king ingredient in Gua Di San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
Part used: The pedicle
Meridian affinity: Stomach
In general Gua Di 's main actions are as follows: "Inducing vomiting to expel Phlegm Heat or stagnant food. Dispels Damp-Heat and relieves jaundice. "
In the context of Gua Di San, it is used because it is bitter and effectively induces vomiting to eliminate the Phlegm or stagnant food.
Chi Xiao Dou is a deputy ingredient in Gua Di San. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.
Part used: Dried ripe fruits
Category: Herbs that drain Dampness
In general Chi Xiao Dou's main actions are as follows: "Expels dampness by facilitating urination. Activates Blood circulation and detoxifies. Reduces swelling and expels pus."
In the context of Gua Di San, it is used because it expels Dampness and eliminates the irritability and fullness.
Dan Dou Chi is an assistant ingredient in Gua Di San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.
Part used: Fermented preparation obtain from the ripe bean
Dan Dou Chi has a light and clear nature that unbinds the Stagnation in the chest and helps resolve problems in that area. Together with Adzuki beans, it harmonizes the Stomach Qi and helps improve the injury to the normal Qi caused by vomiting.
It's important to remember that herbal formulas are meant to treat patterns, not "diseases" as understood in Western Medicine. According to Chinese Medicine patterns, which are disruptions to the body as a system, are the underlying root cause for diseases and conditions.
As such Gua Di San is used by TCM practitioners to treat two different patterns which we describe below.
But before we delve into these patterns here is an overview of the Western conditions they're commonly associated with:
Again it wouldn't be correct to say "Gua Di San treats oral ingestion of poisons" for instance. Rather, Gua Di San is used to treat patterns that are sometimes the root cause behind oral ingestion of poisons.
Now let's look at the two patterns commonly treated with Gua Di San.
The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)
Symptoms: Nausea Belching Insomnia Foul breath Poor appetite Sour regurgitation vomiting of sour fluids Loose stools or constipation Abdominal pain due to overeating Fullness and pain of the epigastrium which are relieved by vomiting
Gua Di San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Food Stagnation in the Stomach. This pattern leads to symptoms such as fullness and pain of the epigastrium which are relieved by vomiting, nausea, vomiting of sour fluids and foul breath. Patients with Food Stagnation in the Stomach typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or full (Shi) pulses.
Adults can be affected too: most people can probably remember overeating a holiday meal with the accompanying bloating, belching, pain and poor sleep that resulted.
Body Fluids (Jin Ye) is one of Chinese Medicine's vital subtances. Learn more about Body Fluids in Chinese Medicine
Gua Di San is sometimes prescribed by TCM practitioners to treat Phlegm in Chest. This pattern leads to symptoms such as focal distention of the chest and difficult breathing. Patients with Phlegm in Chest typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.
This pattern is characterized by Phlegm accumulation that obstructs the chest and diaphragm region. This obstruction severely impedes the flow of Qi, leading to symptoms such as firm areas of focal distention in the chest, a feeling of vexation, and difficult breathing.
The sensation of Qi rushing... read more about Phlegm in Chest