GallBladder Damp-Heat Damp-Heat in the Gall-Bladder


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GallBladder Damp-Heat is common! You’ve probably experienced it after a long, frustrating week at work followed by a large meal with lots of fat in it. Read the symptoms below and decide for yourself!

Causes of GallBladder Damp-Heat

GallBladder Damp-Heat occurs when two conditions converge. 

  1. Long term frustration, stress or anger causes Liver qi stagnation which transforms into Heat and Fire. Note: Climactic heat can also produce the necessary Fire, such as in a long-hot summer where it is not possible to cool down. 
  2. Too much greasy, fatty or rich food creates Damp. Hot, spicy foods and seasonings and too much red meat also contribute to formation of Heat as does chocolate and alcohol. Many curries are both spicy and rich in fats – the perfect vehicle for this. 

When Fire combines with Damp, you get Damp-Heat. 

Why has this got anything to do with the Gallbladder? Because heat in the Liver organ spills over into the Gallbladder, its paired organ in the Wood element, and because too much greasy food overwhelms the supply of bile. Then you get GallBladder Damp-Heat!

Symptoms of GallBladder Damp-Heat

Hypochondrial pain: this is pain under your ribs towards the side of your abdomen. If feels full there, as if stuffed, and it’s slightly more likely to occur on your right side than your left side. The area often feels distended.

Nausea and/or vomiting: you’ll feel better when you’ve got rid of your stomach contents, though some of the other symptoms will stick around for a while.

A sense of fullness, even distension: usually in the hypochondria.

Heat, probably fever: you may think you have an infection, a bug. If you have the other symptoms listed here, it’s probably not a bug. The fever will come and go, so you may feel hot then suddenly cold; you may sweat and if you do it may have a sour smell; possibly burnt, or frequently a rather sickly sweet smell, technically called ‘fragrant’. 

Thirst: with the heat comes thirst, and dryness. Curiously, however, you may not particularly want to drink – a common symptom when there is damp in your body. 

Taste: bitter. 

Dizziness: this is because damp-heat gets into your ears. At least that’s the easy way to explain it. The proper explanation is more complicated and involves deficiency of Blood, Liver Yang, and heat causing internal Wind, depending on the exact nature of your symptoms. Let’s just call it damp-heat in your ears, messing up your vestibular apparatus. 

Earstinnitus: noises in your ears are probably loud and unpleasant. This comes from what Chinese Medicine calls Liver Yang. The more often you get tinnitus the more likely you will be to keep it. You can get it in a number of different ways, and Gallbladder Damp-Heat is just one of them. Try to get it treated early because in my experience once you've had it continuously for two years it involves something else (Kidney qi deficiency) and can be much harder to treat.

Appetite and Digestion: apart from nausea and vomiting, you probably won’t be able to face, let alone eat, fatty food, such as pork or cream.

Bowels: whether you get diarrhoea or constipation depends on a number of factors. Both will be smelly and your stools may lack their usual colour if the colour of your skin, or the flesh under your fingernails, or the whites of your eyes, goes yellow. In that case you’ve got jaundice too. Your stools lose their colour because what would otherwise have been bile salts colouring your stools back up into your liver and enter the blood stream giving you skin its yellow sheen.

Limbs: can swell in the feet or round the ankles, particularly on the outside, and legs may feel heavy or numb.

Urine: You may find you are peeing less because the heat has dried it out. Urine may be darker and smell stronger.

Tired heaviness: you probably won’t want to move much and may even feel a bit numb in your hands and feet. This heaviness comes mainly from the damp part of Gallbladder damp-heat.

Skin: yellow, from bile rising back from the gallbladder into the liver and backing up into the blood stream. Can start off as yellow just under your fingernails or in the whites of your eyes.

Discharges: yellow and sticky. Usually smelly.

Genitals: rashes, itchy, swelling.

Temper: you will be poor company, irritable, peevish, demanding or occasionally sullen and unresponsive.

Eyes: may be yellow, as explained above. They may also be a bit sore.

Tongue: the coating on your tongue will be yellow, greasy and is often thick. Typically it runs in two streaks one on each side of the midline of your tongue.

Pulse: rapid, slippery, wiry. Rapid comes from the heat. Slipperiness comes from the damp. Wiriness comes from the discomfort and your frustration.

Of course, you'll probably have a headache too!

Acupuncture for Gallbladder Damp-Heat

Points are chosen to clear the heat, transform the damp, get your Qi moving again, and calm the Shen – your ‘spirit’, meaning your wretched state of mind! 

  • Zhiyang Du-9: clears heat in the Gallbladder, helps get your Qi moving and clears damp. The perfect point: just a pity it’s not so easy to treat yourself, at least with acupuncture. But you can rub or press it. It lies just under the seventh dorsal vertebra, about level with the inferior edge of your shoulder blades when you are sitting. (If you’re rubbing or pressing it for a friend who has this syndrome, please don’t expect them to be particularly appreciative: they may well complain.) 
  • Yanglinquan Gb-34: an important point that you can rub, just lateral and inferior to the head of your fibula. It will probably be quite sore to press. It helps clear damp-heat in the Gall Bladder. It also helps Liver qi flow again. There’s also another point about a centimetre inferior to Gb-34 which will be sore if it needs to be treated. This point (Dannangxue) is what is called an ‘extra’ point that becomes useful when your gallbladder is affected.
  • Riyue Gb-24: helps clear heat in the Gallbladder and calms the Liver. 
  • Danshu Bl-19: also clears damp-heat
  • Qimen Liv-14: helps steady your Stomach function and spreads the Liver Qi that’s got all snarled up. 
  • Ganshu: Bl-18: like Danshu, this helps spread Liver Qi and clear Heat in the Liver. 

For dampness there are several acupuncture pints, but dampness is not cleared so easily and may need several treatments:

For the heat there are other points like

Other useful points increase the effectiveness of the treatment, such as, on the Gallbladder channel itself: 

  • Tianchong Gb-9: helps with headache and tinnitus, fear and anxiety, even palpitations, if your condition is making you feel that way. 
  • Naokong Gb-19: if this is sore to the touch, your eyes will probably be troubling you. To find it, feel across the back of your head (the occiput) until you find a sore bit about 2 to 4 cms from the midline. Rub or squeeze it firmly. (It might make you a bit more nauseous but at least your eye pain and eyesight will improve.) 
  • Zulinqi Gb-41: on the foot, between the fourth and fifth metatarsal bones just distal from their proximal junction. It is a great point for helping to clear the hypochondrial pain and discomfort and it helps clear your head too. This is hard to treat yourself as the point is quite deep, and can be sore.

What can YOU do to help yourself?

Read Liver Damp Heat: that tells you more or less what you need!

See an Acupuncturist!

If you would like to see an acupuncturist in the Edinburgh or SE Scotland area where the author of this site works, click Edinburgh Acupuncturist. If you live elsewhere, click BAcC.

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