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Herbs That Clear Heat  

Herbs that clear heat mainly remove interior heat.  Generally speaking, interior heat syndrome excludes exterior syndrome due to invasion by exogenous pathogenic factors and heat syndrome caused by retention of food in the interior.  Based on the functions and indications of the herbs, herbs that clear heat can be classified as follows:

a.     Herbs that clear heat and reduce fire
Herbs that clear heat and reduce fire are mainly indicated for syndromes of heat in the Qi level.

b.     Herbs that clear heat and dispel dampness
Herbs that clear heat and dispel dampness are bitter and dry in property, and are mainly indicated for interior syndromes of excessive heat without consumption of body fluids.

c.     Herbs that cool blood
Herbs that cool blood are used to cool heat in the blood.

d.     Herbs that clear heat and remove toxins
Herbs that clear heat and remove toxins are mainly indicated for syndromes of excessive toxic heat, such as epidemic disease, toxic dysentery, boils and carbuncles.

e.     Herbs that clear heat caused by deficiency of Yin
Herbs that clear heat caused by deficiency of Yin are indicated for syndromes of interior heat due to deficiency Yin, such as afternoon tidal fever  

In general, herbs that clear heat are cool and cold in property.  This action may impair the normal function of the spleen and stomach; therefore, they should be used with caution in cases with poor appetite, weakness of the spleen and stomach, or diarrhea.  In addition, they serve as auxiliary herbs in combination with toxic herbs, or with herbs that nourish Yin.  


a)    Herbs That Clear Heat and Reduce Fire  

Herbs that clear heat and reduce fire are mainly indicated for syndromes of heat in the Qi level due to exogenous pathogenic heat invasion manifested as high fever, sweating, thirst, delirium, irritability, scanty and brown urine, yellow and dry tongue coating, surging and forceful pulse, excessive heat in the lungs, excessive heat in the stomach and excessive heat in the heart.


Gypsum (Shigao)

Anemarrhena rhizome (Zhimu)
Reed root (Lugen)
Trichosanthes root (Tianhuafen)
Bamboo leaf (Zhuye)
Lophatherum (Danzhuye)
Capejasmine (Zhizi)
Prunella spike (Xiakucao)
Pipewort (Gujingcao)
Butterflybush flower (Mimenghua)
Celosia seed (Qingxiangzi)

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b)    Herbs That Clear Heat and Dry Dampness

Herbs which clear heat and dry dampness are characterized as bitter and cold.  They are indicated in damp-heat disorders manifested as fever, sticky tongue coating, scanty urine, jaundiced, dysentery and diarrhea, furuncles, eczema, abnormal vaginal discharge and turbid urine.  The herbs in this category are likely to weaken the stomach and consume Yin.  The should be used with caution in cases with weakness of spleen and stomach, or deficient body fluids.  If necessary, the herbs can be combined with herbs that nourish Yin.  

Scutellaria root (Huangqin)
Coptis root (Huanglian)
Phellodendron bark (Huangbai)
Chinese gentian (Longdancao)
Flavescent sophora root (Kushen)

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c)    Herbs That Clear Heat and Cool Blood

Herbs that clear heat and cool blood are indicated in syndromes due to excessive heat at the blood level.  The clinical manifestations are shown in various hemorrhagic diseases, including epistaxis, bloody stool, blood in the urine, functional uterine bleeding, vomiting or spitting up blood, coughing up blood and bleeding of the gums.  These herbs are also used for fever with loss of consciousness, deep red tongue and rapid pulse.  This category of herbs tends to be bitter and sweet-salty in taste and cold in property.

Rhinoceros horn (Xijiao)
Fresh rehmannia root (Shengdihuang)
Scrophularia (Xuanshen)
Moutan bark (Mudanpi)
Red peony (Chishao)
Arnebia (Zicao)

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d)    Herbs That Clear Heat and Release Toxins

The category of herbs that clear heat and release toxins is indicated in syndromes caused by excessive toxic heat, including boils, carbuncles, furuncles, maculopapule, erysipelas sore throat and dysentery.  Some of these herbs may help arrest cancerous growth and release poison from snake bites.

Honeysuckle flower (Jinyinhua)
Honeysuckle stem (Rendongteng)
Forsythia fruit (Lianqiao)
Dandelion herb (Pugongying)
Viola (Ziguadiding)
Isatis leaf (Daqingye)
Ox gallstone (Niuhuang)
Houttuynia (Yuxingcao)
Dittany bark (Baixianpi)
Globethistle (Loulu)
Natural indigo (Qingdai)
Pullsatilla root (Baitouweng)
Portulaca (Machixian)
Green chiretta (Chuanxinlian)


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e)    Herbs that Clear Heat Caused by Yin Deficiency  

Herbs that clear heat caused by Yin deficiency are indicated in deficiency of Yin with heat syndrome manifested as fever, afternoon fever, feverish sensation in the palms, soles and chest, night sweating, red tongue proper with scanty coating and thready, rapid pulse.

These herbs are often combined with herbs that nourish Yin to strengthen the function of clearing heat caused by Yin deficiency.  In addition, some of these herbs are indicated in the late stage of febrile disease caused by invasion of exogenous pathogenic heat, in which Yin and body fluids are damaged and pathogenic factors remain inside.  The commonly seen manifestations are fever, fever at night, and fever subsiding in the morning without presence of sweating.

In general, these herbs are not suitable for fever due to common cold and cases of deficiency of Yin and blood without heat signs.

Sweet wormwood (Qinghao)
Swallowwort root (Baiwei)
Wolfberry bark (Digupi)
Stellaria root (Yinchaihu)

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