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Traditional Chinese Medicine Internal Organ Syndromes

Gallbladder and Urinary Bladder Syndromes

Gallbladder and urinary bladder syndromes can be caused or exacerbated by problems with other organs. The gallbladder is affected by the liver, and the urinary bladder is affected by the kidneys.

This is because the gallbladder is related to the liver in a yin/yang relationship and by physical proximity. The liver produces bile, while the gallbladder stores and secretes it. Since a strong gallbladder helps a person be assertive and decisive, imbalances in the organ can lead to indecision and timidity.

The urinary bladder performs the functions of receiving waste water from the kidneys and excreting it from the body. It is paired in a yin/yang relationship with the kidneys, so a deficiency in the urinary bladder is typically related to a deficiency in the kidneys. The kidneys have no excess syndromes, so any excess pattern in the urinary tract is diagnosed as a urinary bladder dishar­mony.

Gallbladder Damp Heat: This syndrome is described in the section on liver syndromes under "Liver and Gallbladder Damp Heat."

Phlegm Confusing the Gallbladder: When the gallbladder is weak and under the influence of dampness, this syndrome can develop. Its symptoms are dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, being easily startled, indecisiveness, frightening dreams, vomiting with a bitter taste, dull pain or distention in the rib area, a pale, puffy tongue with a greasy white coating, and a slippery, wiry pulse. Corresponding Western conditions might include emotional or psychological disorders, hypertension (especially in people who are overweight), and menopausal symptoms. Treatment for this syndrome includes herbal formulas that calm the spirit and clear phlegm from the gallbladder, such as Gallbladder Warming Decoction (Wen Dan Tang).

Urinary Bladder Damp Heat: This excess pattern has symptoms of pain and distention in the lower abdomen, frequent urination that is burning and produces dark urine, possible stones or blood in the urine, low back pain, and a rapid, slippery pulse. The tongue is red with a thick, greasy yellow coating, especially in the back area of the tongue, which corresponds to the lower burner. Some possible corresponding Western diagnoses are urinary tract infection, urinary tract stones, or prostate disorders. The treatment principle is to clear lower burner damp heat with herbs such as Dianthus (qu mai), Phellodendron (huang bai), and Andrographis (chuan xin lian).

Urinary Bladder Deficient and Cold: If the kidney qi or yang is depleted, this deficiency syndrome can occur in the bladder. Symptoms are frequent urination that is clear and copious, occasional difficulty in urinating, inability to hold in the urine, bed-wetting, feelings of cold and pain in the lower abdomen or lower back, a deep, weak pulse, and a pale, moist, puffy tongue with a thin white coat. It can be diagnosed as a chronic urinary tract infection or prostate disorder, and treatment involves moxibustion on the lower abdomen. Herbal therapy focuses on tonifying kidney yang with herbs such as Rehmannia (shu di huang), Aconite (fu zi), and cinnamon bark (rou gui).

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Bill Schoenbart has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) since 1991, when he earned a Masters degree in TCM. He teaches TCM medical theory and herbalism at an acupuncture school in California, and also maintains a clinical practice.

Ellen Shefi is a licensed massage technician, licensed acupuncturist, and registered dietician. She is a member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Herb Association, and the Oregon Acupuncture Association.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.