Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 胆湿热

Pinyin name: Dǎn Shī Rè

Associated TCM concepts: Gallbladder Dampness Heat/Fire evil


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.

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.

Diagnosing Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder

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

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder will tend to exhibit rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder might experience symptoms like hypochondrial pain, hypochondrial distention, nausea or vomiting and inability to digest fats (full list here above).

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 with Virgate Wormwood (Yin Chen) as a principal ingredient. 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.

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.

Most important herbs used to treat Damp-Heat in the Gallbladder