Swelling gums according to Chinese Medicine

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Swelling gums 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 swelling gums 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 swelling gums is often associated with dry mouth, irritability and bleeding gums in the pattern “Stomach Heat or Fire”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause swelling gums.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of swelling gums we’ve identified four 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 swelling gums.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause swelling gums

In Chinese Medicine swelling gums is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

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

Stomach Heat or Fire

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red centre

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst and gum bleeding. Stomach Fire can be the result of excessive intake of hot, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods or other factors such as alcohol, tobacco and sugar.

In addition to swelling gums, other symptoms associated with Stomach Heat or Fire include dry mouth, irritability and bleeding gums.

Stomach Heat or Fire is often treated with Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula made of 3 herbs (including Rhubarb - Da Huang - as a key herb). Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that purge heat accumulation", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner".

Read more about Stomach Heat or Fire here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to swelling gums, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include poor appetite, depression and irritability.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

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

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to swelling gums, other symptoms associated with Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat include dry mouth, dry throat and bleeding gums.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is associated with health issues such as Mastitis, Breast Engorgement or Morning Sickness.

Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat is often treated with Qing Wei San, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Qing Wei San belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat from the organs", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Drains Stomach Fire".

Read more about Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat here

Four herbal formulas that might help with swelling gums

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Why might Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang help with swelling gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' of which swelling gums is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Stomach Heat Or Fire include dry mouth, irritability and bleeding gums.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with swelling gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which swelling gums is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Morning Sickness.

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Yu Nu Jian

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Heat from the Stomach. Nourishes Yin.

Why might Yu Nu Jian help with swelling gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' of which swelling gums is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Morning Sickness.

Read more about Yu Nu Jian here

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Why might Qing Wei San help with swelling gums?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' of which swelling gums is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat can contribute to many health issues, including Morning Sickness.

Read more about Qing Wei San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat swelling gums

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with swelling gums?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat swelling gums as a symptom, like Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang or Wen Dan Tang for instance.

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

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 Gypsum (Shi Gao) help with swelling gums?

Because it is a key herb in Yu Nu Jian, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat' (a pattern with swelling gums as a symptom)

Gypsum is a Cold herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and drains Fire. Clears Lung Heat. Relieves thirst and restlessness. Clears Stomach Heat.

Read more about Gypsum here

Why might Rhubarb (Da Huang) help with swelling gums?

Because it is a key herb in Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' (a pattern with swelling gums as a symptom)

Rhubarb is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Pericardium.

Its main actions are: Drains Excess Heat and eliminates Dampness, especially when in the Sunlight Yang stage. Cools the Blood and stops bleeding. Invigorates Blood, breaks up Stasis and relieves pain. Clears Heat and toxins from Excess. Applied topically for Hot sores and Blood Stasis.

Read more about Rhubarb here

Why might Crow-Dipper Rhizome (Ban Xia) help with swelling gums?

Because it is a key herb in Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' (a pattern with swelling gums as a symptom)

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Drains Dampness and reduces Phlegm. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi. Reduces hardenings and relieves distention.

Read more about Crow-Dipper Rhizomes here

Why might Goldthread Rhizome (Huang Lian) help with swelling gums?

Because it is a key herb in Qing Wei San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Heat or Fire' (a pattern with swelling gums 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

Conditions associated with swelling gums

Morning sickness