Dry heaves according to Chinese Medicine

Dry heaves can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like dry heaves here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here dry heaves is often associated with cough with pain in the chest and hypochondria, shortness of breath and headaches in the pattern “Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause dry heaves.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of dry heaves we’ve identified two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the four medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat dry heaves.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dry heaves

In Chinese Medicine dry heaves is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

In addition to dry heaves, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium include cough with pain in the chest and hypochondria, shortness of breath and headaches.

Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium is often treated with Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Kansui Roots - Gan Sui - as a key herb). Shi Zao Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that drive out excess water", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium here

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

Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner

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

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red tip

In addition to dry heaves, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner include abdominal fullness and poor appetite.

Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner is often treated with Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize stomach-intestines", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Reverses the flow of Rebellious Stomach Qi".

Read more about Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner here

Two herbal formulas that might help with dry heaves

Shi Zao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Purges and drives out Phlegm-Fluids.

Why might Shi Zao Tang help with dry heaves?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium' of which dry heaves is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fluids In The Chest And Hypochondrium include cough with pain in the chest and hypochondria, shortness of breath and headaches.

Read more about Shi Zao Tang here

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Reverses the flow of Rebellious Stomach Qi. Relieves both Heat and Cold Stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Why might Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang help with dry heaves?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner' of which dry heaves is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Heat In The Middle Burner include abdominal fullness and poor appetite.

Read more about Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang here

The four Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dry heaves

Why might Peking Spurge Root (Jing Da Ji) help with dry heaves?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium' (a pattern with dry heaves as a symptom)

Peking Spurge Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Drains water downward and drives out Phlegm-Fluids. Reduces swellings and dispels lumps.

Read more about Peking Spurge Roots here

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with dry heaves?

Because it is a key herb in Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Heat in the Middle Burner' (a pattern with dry heaves as a symptom)

Goldthread Rhizomes is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart, the Large intestine and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat especially in the Lower Burner. Eliminates Fire toxicity especially when there is associated Dampness. Acts as a sedative by eliminating Heart Fire. Eliminates Stomach Fire. Expel parasites

Read more about Goldthread Rhizomes here

Why might Kansui Root (Gan Sui) help with dry heaves?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium' (a pattern with dry heaves as a symptom)

Kansui Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves water retention and congestion of Fluids. Cools swellings and reduces inflammation when applied topically. Strong purgative, driving water and Food Stagnation out though the stool.

Read more about Kansui Roots here

Why might Genkwa Flower (Yan Hua) help with dry heaves?

Because it is a key herb in Shi Zao Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids in the chest and hypochondrium' (a pattern with dry heaves as a symptom)

Genkwa Flowers is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Kidney, the Large intestine and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves chronic congestion of Fluids in the chest and stops cough. Drains congested Fluids through the urine and the stool. Expels parasites.

Read more about Genkwa Flowers here