IBS due to Damp Heat
This is a condition wherein there is indication of both a deficiency of the digestive system to adequately digest the food leading to diarrhea or soft, sticky stools along with symptoms of heat that arrive in the form of either a burning sensation at the anus or a strong odor in what passes from the anus be it fecal matter or just gas. There may also be mucus lining the stools or the diarrhea will have a yellow color to it. Damp heat would also be that explosive kind of diarrhea that you really don't want to experience in a public rest room, or anywhere, for that matter.
This situation should really be differentiated against an acute infection that may call for more aggressive intervention. If you're losing a whole lot of water and this is a situation that has only been going on for a day or two, you might want to check in with your MD just to make sure that nothing's getting out of hand. However, if this is a chronic condition, please keep reading.
The damp heat tongue. Dampness produces a tongue coating that gets so thick you can't see the tongue body through it. Heat colors the tongue coating a dull white or yellow color. Often times, if the damp heat only exists in the intestines, you'll see that the tongue coating is limited to the rear third of the tongue. The rear third is the portion closest to the throat. If the tongue coating is spread out over the entire tongue then the patient problems of dampness in other organs as well.
If this situation is associated with blood in the stools, you may have something a little more serious that may require Western medical intervention such as a cancer of the Large Intestine. If you're having chronic bloody stools, you might want to check in with your MD to rule this out as well. TCM has a number of herbal formulas and therapies for cancers in the colon, but it is a good idea to make sure that there is time to use these safer but slower remedies in the case of a cancer. Otherwise, see an oncologist and perhaps use the herbal medicines to support the work of your MD as is appropriate.
Now, when we talk about heat, we're talking about what Western medicine would call an infection. If you have indications of heat in your system I don't suggest that you go running off to get some antibiotics unless, as I must mentioned, the water loss is becoming a health hazard in and of itself. Antibiotics can kill the infection or get rid of the heat but because they are so cold in nature they can end up killing the other bacteria in your intestines that help you digest your food and that would aggravate the dampness. Chinese herbal therapies are very gentle and selective in the way that they treat infections. This gentleness and the watchful eye of a trained Chinese medicine herbalist can insure that you get the heat clearing herbs you need without the herbs aggrevating the deficiency (making the diarrhea worse) that can result from this or antibiotic therapy.
You may have symptoms of heat, which I'm calling an infection, even though there is no indication according to Western tests that there is a problem. That is okay. Heat is heat. I'm just calling it an infection for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the concept of heat in the intestines or stomach. The fact is, an enormous percentage of the stools that we pass is dead bacteria that has grown in the fertile warmth of your intestines. The body is generally able to prevent this bacteria from getting out of hand or should I say, out of the intestines, but should those immune systems become hampered by any of a variety of causes, then an infection can begin to grow and hence you'll discover symptoms of heat.
Diarrhea is a wet substance. Perhaps the stool is just soft, in which case the damp component of this "damp heat" issue would be indicated by the feeling that you're unable to get it all out, or else it takes a lot of paper to clean yourself up afterwards. It you find that you're using half a roll of toilet paper to clean up after a bowel movement, you've either got dampness in your stools or you need to consider a better brand of toilet paper.
So how do we treat this condition? Mostly we use herbal medicines to dry the damp and clear the heat. Herbs such as Huang Lian (Rx. Coptis) are used as they have a very specific action of treating both the damp and the heat specifically in the intestines. One of the more popular base formulas for an individualized treatment for damp heat in the intestines is called Ge Gen Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang (Kudzu, Coptis and Scutellaria decoction). This formula is specifically for profuse diarrhea that burns the anus. It is indicated in many gastro-intestinal problems. They really need to line up with the key symptoms which are the burning anus and diarrhea. If the anus isn't burning or the poop doesn't have a strong offensive ("sour" or the so-called "silent but deadly") odor, you don't want Ge Gen Huang Qin Huang Lian Tang. Diarrhea that is not due to damp heat could become worse if this formula is used.
No matter how you slice it, you gotta get the right diagnosis before taking these herbs. Track down an herbalist with training in herbal medicines from within the traditional Chinese medicine framework and go from there. Then, maybe you won't have to go so frequently. Get it?
All of the formulas mentioned in this article are widely available at Chinese medicine pharmacies, though the so-called patent medicines that you'll find there aren't always as strong as they could be. These formulas come in a variety of different forms and strengths and your friendly neighborhood herbalist can assist you in obtaining them as is appropriate.
You can purchase any of the formulas mentioned in this article by simply clicking on their names. Another option is to obtain this formula modified for your unique situation from Beyond Well Being.