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, back pain and epigastric pain in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/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 two herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat gallstones.

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 Gallbladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Gallbladder 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 /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-in-kidneys-or-gallbladder include kidney stones, back pain and epigastric pain.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-in-kidneys-or-gallbladder is often treated with Si Ni San, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Si Ni San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder here

Two herbal formulas that might help with gallstones

Si Ni San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Regulates Liver and Spleen. Eliminates Internal Heat.

Why might Si Ni San help with gallstones?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-in-kidneys-or-gallbladder' of which gallstones is a symptom.

Read more about Si Ni San here

Pai Shi Tang

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Discharge Gallstones. Clear Damp-Heat. Facilitate urination.

Why might Pai Shi Tang help with gallstones?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-in-kidneys-or-gallbladder' of which gallstones is a symptom.

Read more about Pai Shi Tang here

Acupuncture points used for gallstones

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat gallstones

Why might Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with gallstones?

Because it is a key herb in Si Ni San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' (a pattern with gallstones as a symptom)

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Why might Immature Bitter Orange (Zhi Shi) help with gallstones?

Because it is a key herb in Si Ni San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' (a pattern with gallstones as a symptom)

Immature Bitter Oranges is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter, Pungent and Sour. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Regulates the flow of Qi in the Middle Burner and reduces Food Stagnation. Moves Qi downward and helps constipation. Reduces Stagnant Phlegm and lessens distention and pain. For prolapse of organs when used with the appropriate herbs.

Read more about Immature Bitter Oranges here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with gallstones?

Because it is a key herb in Si Ni San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' (a pattern with gallstones as a symptom)

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with gallstones?

Because it is a key herb in Si Ni San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm in Kidneys or Gallbladder' (a pattern with gallstones as a symptom)

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Baikal Skullcap Root (Huang Qin) help with gallstones?

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

Baikal Skullcap Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Lung, the Small intestine and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome.

Read more about Baikal Skullcap Roots here