Damp-Heat in the Liver

At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肝湿热      Pinyin name: Gān Shī Rè

Pattern nature: Full

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Damp-Heat

Causes

Precursor patterns: Liver Qi Stagnation Spleen Qi Deficiency

Common causes: 1. Diet, 2. Emotional stress, 3. External Dampness

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Nausea Dark Urine sticky taste Vulvar sores Poor appetite and sixteen other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Red body with redder sides sticky yellow coating

Treatment

Treatment principle: Clear the Liver, resolve Dampness, clear Heat

Common formulas: Long Dan Xie Gan Tang Yin Chen Hao Tang

Pathology

This pattern is caused by excessive Heat in the Liver and Dampness due to Spleen Deficiency. Dampness is created if the Spleen's transportation and transformation function is impaired. When Damp-Heat builds up, the flow of Qi is disturbed, resulting in Qi Stagnation symptoms. When lasting for a long period of time, Dampness can cause the formation of Phlegm. Therefore, patients often have a feeling of fullness in the hypochondrium, abdomen or hypogastrium.  They also feel general heaviness of the body. 

Since Dampness has a tendency to flow downwards, it often settles in the Lower Burner, causing urinary Bladder infections, a burning feeling and vaginal discharge, itching and infection. It often manifests in the genitals, resulting in sores or eczema in this area.

Causes

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

Diet: Poor diet harms the Spleen function of transforming and transporting, such as prolonged and excessive consumption of cold and raw foods, excessive intakes of dairy foods and greasy foods, refined sugar, coffee and alcohol. Irregular diet and lifestyle habits can also be the cause.

Emotional stress: Emotional stress such as anger also contribute since they cause Liver Qi Stagnation.

External Dampness: External Dampness is a frequent cause for the formation of Damp-Heat, especially in hot tropical countries.  The external Evils invades the Liver Channels though legs and eventually settle down in the Liver.

Diagnosing Damp-Heat in the Liver

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian)

Tongue description: Red body with redder sides sticky yellow coating

Main symptoms: Nausea Dark Urine sticky taste Vulvar sores Poor appetite Vulvar eczema Vaginal itching Midcycle bleeding Burning urination Abdominal fullness Urinary difficulty Feeling of heaviness Hypogastrium fullness Hypochondrium fullness Midcycle bleeding pain Yellow vaginal discharge Red and swelling scrotum Red and swelling genital Red and swelling papular Bitter taste in the mouth Vesicular skin rashes and itching

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the fullness of hypochondrium, abdomen or hypogastrium, feeling of heaviness, nausea, bitter and sticky taste and sticky yellow tongue coating.

Treating Damp-Heat in the Liver

Treatment principle

Clear the Liver, resolve Dampness, clear Heat

Herbal formulas used to treat Damp-Heat in the Liver

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Formula summary

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula. Invented in 1682 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs.

Besides Damp-Heat in the Liver, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang is also used to treat Liver Fire Blazing or Liver Fire insulting the Lungs.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

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

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang

Diet recommendations

Follow a balanced diet of grains, legumes, cooked vegetables, greens, winter squash and warm or room temperature drinks. Eat all cooked foods.

Avoid cold and raw foods and drinks, consumption of hot and greasy foods, dairy, nuts and nut butters, chips of all kinds, caffeinated foods and drinks, red meat, fruits, juices, iced drinks, ice cream and popsicles, salads, uncooked foods and the excessive use of sugar and other sweeteners. Avoid eating an irregular diet and at irregular times.

Try other therapies such as cupping over the back and breathing exercises. 

Most importantly find a way to deal with negative emotions like anger, frustration, resentment, irritability, mood swings. It is better to express and release them instead of keeping them inside. Find a job or hobby that is enjoyable or fulfilling. 

Avoid mental over-work, physical over-exertion or excessive sexual activity. Take proper rest after all these exercises or work. Try going to bed before 11 pm. 

Try regular exercises such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong, swimming, dancing or walking in the nature. 

Consequence patterns

Phlegm

Phlegm can form and accumulate due to long term Dampness.