Herbs To Quell Fire



Heat, in TCM, refers not only to febrile conditions, but also to any condition that manifests with Heat symptoms that include dry throat, red face, red eyes, dry stool, dark and scanty urine, yellow fur on the tongue, rapid pulse and a sensation of warmth in the five centers (i.e. the soles of the feet, the palms of the hand and the sternum). Heat is also further divided into Exterior and Interior Heat. While Exterior Heat is symptomized by fevers, chills, headache, thirst, moderate sweating and a floating, rapid pulse; Interior Heat is sympathized by fever without chills, dry mouth, thirst, irritability, scanty and dark urine, yellow fur on the tongue, constipation or diarrhea, and abdominal dissension. 


Herbs that treat Interior Heat are cold in nature and from a modern biomedical perspective, have antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. 


Herbs that quell fire are the coldest in the materia medica. They are used for treating high fevers, irritability, thirst and delirium from febrile diseases. Among the Four Levels (si fen) of Warm-febrile diseases, these symptoms generally correspond to that of the Qi level and among the Six Stages (liu jing) of disease, to the Yang Brightness stage. Included in this group are herbs used for eye problems from Wind Heat as well as Heat in the Liver, Lungs or Stomach, namely gypsum, radix anemarrhenae asphodeloidis, fructus gardenias jasminoidis, herba lophatheri gracilis, spica prunella vulgaris, calcitum, plumule nelumbinis nuciferae, rhizoma phragmitis communis, semencassiae torae, semen celosia argentine, flop buddleiae officinalis, excrementum vespertilii murini, and fel ursi.


Gypsum or calcium sulfate is sweet, acrid and cold entering the Lung, Stomach to clear Heat and quell fire. Gypsum is highly efficient for high fever without chills, irritability, thirst, profuse sweating, flooding large pulse and a red tongue with yellow coating. Gypsum will clear excess heat in the lungs and should used for cough and wheezing with Heat signs. Gypsum will clear blazing Stomach fire and may be useful for headache, toothache, swollen and painful gums from Stomach fire. Gypsum may also be used for eczema, burns and ulcerated sores (applied topically in powdered form after being calcined and mixed with other herbs or taken internally).


Cautions and contraindications are for patients with weak stomachs; patients who have deficient yang; patients with a minute pulse. 


Anemarrhena Asphodeloides or zhi mu has bitter, cold properties, entering lung, stomach kidney channels and is sued for high fever, irritability, thirst, and a rapid, flooding pulse in patterns of Excess Heat in Lungs and Stomach. A cough may well be expected with Heat in the Lungs producing expectoration of thick, yellow sputum. Zhi mu nurtures yin and moistens dry conditions, beneficial when used for exhaustion or sever Deficient Lung and Kidney Qi with night sweats, Steaming Bone syndrome, irritability, afternoon or low-grade fevers, warmth in the five centers (soles of feet, palms of hands and sternum) with bleeding gums. Also benefits Kidney Heat signs with spermatorrhea, nocturnal emissions and abnormally increased sex drive.


Zhi Mu will drain Heat from the lower burner (great for painful urinary dysfunction). Zhi will also generate fluid and clear heat from oral ulcers and inflammation from deficient yin along with Wasting & Thirsting syndrome (just like it sounds).


Gardenia Fruit or Cape Jasmine (zhi zi) clears heat and alleviates irritability, drains damp heat in any of the three burners (liver, lung, stomach), benefiting conditions related to painful urinary dysfunction, constrained liver and gall bladder as in jaundice and damp heat afflicting nose, eyes and face sores. Gardenia will cool blood and inhibit bleeding and may be used for hot blood patterns associated with nosebleeds, blood in vomit, stool or urine. Gardenia can reduce swelling and move congealed blood due to trauma. 


Herba Lophatheri Gracilis or Bland Bamboo Leaves (Dan Zhu Ye) clears heat and lessens irritability and thirst. Useful for mouth sores, swollen painful gums due to Heat in Heart or Stomach Channels. Dan Zhu Ye has a diuretic effect and promotes urination and clears damp heat and may benefit treatment of rough, scanty, painful urination as it releases the Exterior to disperse wind heat. 


Spica Prunellae Vulgaris or Selfheal / Heal-all Spike (Xia Ku Cao) enters the Liver, Gallbladder and Lung. Selfheal clears Liver and brightens eyes, useful for ascending Liver Fire with red painful or swollen eyes or headache and dizziness. Useful also for deficient liver eye pain that escalates by evening or when eyes are no longer red or swollen. Selfheal clears Heat and dispels nodules, benefiting neck lumps or nodules such as found in scrofula, lipoma, swollen glands or goiter in patterns of Phlegm Fire. Will also benefit nodules in the inguinal canal and other parts of the body. 


Calcitum or Han Shui Shi quells fire and expels summer heat, useful for high fever, irritability, thirst and yellow coated tongue from Summer Heat Warm febrile disease. May also be used for burns. 


Plumula Nelumbinis Nuciferae or Lotus Plumule (Lian Xin) has sweet and neutral properties, entering Heart, Spleen, Kidney. Lian xin quells heart fire in warm febrile diseases where Heat has crushed the pericardium channel causing mental confusion or delirium. Useful for insomnia or irritability due to excessive heart fire. 


Rhizoma Phragmitis Commnis or Reed Rhizome (Lu Gen) has sweet, cold properties, enters Lung, Stomach to clear heat and generate fluids (useful with symptoms of high fever and thirst). Reed Rhizome clears heat from lungs to dispel cough and expectoration of thick, yellow sputum. Clears stomach heat for vomiting and belching. Promotes urination in heat patterns with dark scanty urine or blood in urine especially when accompanied by irritability and thirst. Encourages rashes to surface for febrile diseases with rashes that do not manifest completely. 


Semen Cassiae Torae or Foetid Cassia Seeds (Jue Ming Zi or Cao Jue Ming) has bitter, sweet, cool properties entering Liver, Kidney to clear vision and expel wind heat (useful for itchy, red and painful eyes and sensitivity to light from externally contracted Wind Heat). Clears the liver and benefits the eyes, useful in patterns of ascending Liver Yang with headache and red, painful eyes with excessive tearing or sensitivity to light. Lubricates intestines and moves stool. Use for dry or infrequent stool or chronic constipation, especially when due to deficient liver yin. 


Semen Celosiae Argenteae or Qing Xiang Zi has sweet, cool properties and enters Liver to clear wind heat or liver benefit to benefit the eyes. Use to treat either wind heat or liver fire patterns causing red, painful swollen eyes, superficial visual obstruction and cataracts. Not for patients with dilated pupils due to deficient liver or kidneys. 


Flos Buddleiae Officinalis or Mi Meng Hua flower has sweet, cool properties and enters the Liver. Benefits eyes, e.g. red, swollen, painful eyes with excessive tearing, superficial visuals obstruction or sensitivity to light. Can be used for both excessive or deficient conditions. 


Excrementum Vespertilii Murini or Bat Feces (Ye Ming Sha) has acrid, cold properties and enters the Liver. Clears the liver and benefits the eyes in cases of night blindness, superficial visual obstruction and cataracts. Historically used to treat childhood nutritional impairment when combined with rhizome atractylodis macrocephalae (bai she), rhizome picroorhizae (hu Huang lion) and pericardium citric reticulate (chen pi).


Fel Ursi or Bear Gall Bladder (Xiong Dan) has bitter, cold properties and enters Liver, Gall Bladder, Spleen, Stomach/ Clears heat and alleviates spasms. Use for warm febrile diseases with high fevers and convulsions. Also good for delirium from extensive burns. Clears heat and detoxifies Fire Poison. Use for hot skin lesions. Topical application is especially pain relieving. Reduces swelling and pain in cases of trauma, sprains, fractures or hemorrhoids.

Posted by Phong Luu

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