Damp Heat in the Liver

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肝湿热

Pinyin name: Gān Shī Rè

Associated TCM concepts: Liver Dampness Heat/Fire evil

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Sores Eczema Poor appetite Chest fullness Vaginal itching and seven other symptoms

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

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. Patients often have a feeling of fullness. 

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.

This is commonly caused by poor diet which harms the Spleen function, such as prolonged and excessive consumption of cold and raw foods, plus 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 such as anger also contribute since they cause Liver Qi Stagnation

Diagnosing Damp Heat in the Liver

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

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Possible symptoms: Sores Eczema Poor appetite Chest fullness Vaginal itching Menstrual cramps Vaginal discharge Burning urination Feeling of heaviness Hypochondrium fullness Irregular menstruation Abdominal distention and fullness

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 Liver will tend to exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with sticky coating, yellow coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Damp Heat in the Liver might experience symptoms like hypochondrium fullness, chest fullness, abdominal distention and fullness and vaginal discharge (full list here above).

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 with Chinese Gentian (Long Dan Cao) as a principal ingredient. 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 Stagnant Liver-Qi turning into Fire or Liver Fire Blazing.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan 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.

Most important herbs used to treat Damp Heat in the Liver