Gallstones according to Chinese Medicine

Gallstones 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 gallstones 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 gallstones is often associated with kidney stones and epigastric pain in the pattern “Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of gallstones we’ve identified that a herbal formula called Da Huang Fu Zi Tang can help treat the patterns behind the symptom.

Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause gallstones

In Chinese Medicine gallstones is a symptom for the pattern "Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

According to Chinese medicine, gallstones or kidney stones are a form of Phlegm.

In addition to gallstones, other symptoms associated with Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder include kidney stones and epigastric pain.

Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder is often treated with Da Huang Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Da Huang Fu Zi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and purge", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms the Interior".

Read more about Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder here

A herbal formula that might help with gallstones

Da Huang Fu Zi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Interior. Disperses Cold. Unblocks the bowels. Alleviates pain.

Why might Da Huang Fu Zi Tang help with gallstones?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' of which gallstones is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm In Kidneys Or Gallbladder include kidney stones and epigastric pain.

Read more about Da Huang Fu Zi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat gallstones

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with gallstones?

Because it is a key herb in Da Huang Fu Zi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' (a pattern with gallstones as a symptom)

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Corn Silk (Yu Mi Xu) help with gallstones?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat gallstones as can be seen on Corn Silk's page.

Corn Silk is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Bladder, the Liver and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination. Stimulates the Gallbladder and eliminates jaundice. Regulates blood sugar for wasting and thirsting disorders such as diabetes mellitus. Stops bleeding.

Read more about Corn Silk here

Why might Turmeric Tuber (Yu Jin) help with gallstones?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat gallstones as can be seen on Turmeric Tuber's page.

Turmeric Tubers is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood, breaks Stasis and reduces associated pain. Regulates the Liver and relieves patterns of Stagnant Qi with pain. Clears the Heart and Cools the Blood. Relieves Stagnation and clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder. Relieves jaundice.

Read more about Turmeric Tubers here

Why might Milk Thistle Seed (Shui Fei Ji) help with gallstones?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat gallstones as can be seen on Milk Thistle Seed's page.

Milk Thistle Seeds is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Regulates the flow of Qi in the Liver and tonify Gallbladder.

Read more about Milk Thistle Seeds here

Why might Turmeric (Jiang Huang) help with gallstones?

Because it is a herb specifically indicated to treat gallstones as can be seen on Turmeric's page.

Turmeric is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Moves Blood and unblocks Stasis. Facilitates the movement of Qi and eases pain. Clears the meridians, expels Wind and moves Blood to relieve pain.

Read more about Turmeric here