Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 胆湿热      Pinyin name: Dǎn Shī Rè

Pattern nature: Full

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Stagnation Spleen Qi Deficiency Dampness in the Gallbladder

Common causes: 1. Exterior Dampness or Heat, 2. Diet, 3. Emotional strain

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fever Tinnitus Dizziness Irritability Yellow complexion and thirteen other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Thick sticky yellow coating, either bilateral in two strips or unilateral.

Treatment

Treatment principle: Resolve Dampness, clear Heat in Gallbladder, stimulate the smooth flow of Liver Qi.

Common formulas: Yin Chen Hao Tang

Pathology

Dampness in the Gallbladder is typically paired with an underlying Spleen Qi Deficiency which makes the Spleen unable to transform Fluids.

As such the whole Middle Burner is typically affected, hence the symptoms of nausea and vomiting: the obstruction caused by Dampness prevent Stomach Qi from descending and it therefore rebels upwards.

Dampness also interferes with the smooth flow of Liver Qi, which stagnates and may cause hypochondrial distension and pain.

The sticky taste in the mouth and turbid urine are also classic signs of Dampness. The feeling of fullness in the hypochondrium and a general feeling of heaviness are much more specific to dampness in the Gallbladder.

As far as Heat is concerned it leads to symptoms such as bitter taste in the mouth, fever, dark urine and thirst. 

In Western Medicine this pattern sometimes leads to cholelithiasis (stones in the gallbladder). Stones are an extreme form of Dampness and Phlegm that form over a long period of time under the action of Heat, which dries and solidifies Dampness.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder can derive from Liver Qi Stagnation Spleen Qi Deficiency Dampness in the Gallbladder

Exterior Dampness or Heat: Exterior Dampness, typically from overexposure to humid and damp environments, may lead to retention of Dampness in the Gallbladder. Dampness can then easily combine with Heat. Alternatively, Exterior Damp-Heat may directly invade the body if one lives in a hot and humid environment.

Diet: The excessive consumption of fried and fatty foods or dairy products is the most common cause of this pattern.

Emotional strain: Feelings of anger, resentment or frustration over a long period of time (or very intense in a short period of time) can cause Liver Qi Stagnation which might transform into Heat and lead to this pattern.

Diagnosing Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian)

Tongue description: Thick sticky yellow coating, either bilateral in two strips or unilateral.

Main symptoms: Fever Tinnitus Dizziness Irritability Yellow complexion Hypochondrial pain Nausea or vomiting Feeling of heaviness Swelling of the feet Scanty and dark urine Numbness in the limbs Hypochondrial distention Inability to digest fats Bitter taste in the mouth Yellow sclera of the eyes Loose stools or constipation Thirst without a desire to drink Alternation of hot and cold feeling

Diagnosis commentary: Hypochondrial fullness, bitter taste in the mouth and thick sticky yellow coating on the right side of the tongue are enough in and of themselves to diagnose Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder.

Treating Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

Treatment principle

Resolve Dampness, clear Heat in Gallbladder, stimulate the smooth flow of Liver Qi.

Herbal formulas used to treat Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Formula summary

Yin Chen Hao Tang is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat and expel dampness.

Besides Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder, Yin Chen Hao Tang is also used to treat Damp-Heat in the Liver or Damp-Heat.

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang

Diet recommendations

Stay away from fat, fried and greasy foods and favor a light diet.

Try to avoid too much exposure to damp, hot and humid environments. You might consider purchasing a dehumidifier if your home or office space is affected.

Consequence patterns

Liver Qi Stagnation

Dampness in the Middle Burner obstructs the free flow of Liver Qi and may lead to Liver Qi Stagnation

Phlegm-Heat

If left untreated Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder can lead to Phlegm-Heat