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Chinese Herbs for Diarrhea

Chinese Herbs for Diarrhea

TCM Herbs for Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a sign of injury or imbalance to the Spleen Qi (digestive energy). It is a sign that should not be ignored and should generally be stopped as soon as possible. Prolonged or severe diarrhea is a serious medical condition and should be treated by a physician as it can be life-threatening especially in children or the elderly.  For mild to moderate cases this disharmony, like many others, can generally be treated safely with Chinese herbs but must be differentiated as yin (cold type ), yang (hot type), or mixed.  Although in actuality causes and treatments are far more numerous than listed here, in a general sense diarrhea cases can be divided into the following three types.

Chronic Diarrhea (yin type)

Cold diarrhea is usually chronic or recurring and related to longstanding disharmonies or deficiencies. These disharmonies come from several different sources, including irregular eating habits, extreme emotions such as worry and frustration, and congenital digestive weaknesses. Though characteristically the tongue is swollen, flabby, or pale, in reality this may not be the case.

The onset of chronic diarrhea is usually gradual, the odor is mild, and the stool may only be loose. There could be mucus or undigested food in the stool.

Long-term use of spleen tonics are recommended. Spleen Qi must also be conserved. Eating habits should be moderate and regular, and foods should be warm, cooked and easy to digest. Cold foods, raw foods, and other difficult-to-digest foods should be decreased as they require too much energy to digest.

Sudden Diarrhea, Hot (yang type)

Hot type of diarrhea is generally caused by an external pathogen such as bacteria, virus, fungus, or other microorganism or overindulgence in warming or dampening foods.

The onset is usually sudden, the odor strong or foul, and may be accompanied by cramping or blood in the stool. This type of diarrhea is often yellow in color. The pulse is often rapid; the tongue body may be red or the coating yellowish. This is typical of dysenteric diarrhea caused by drinking or eating contaminated or unclean food or an accumulation of damp heat in the intestines.

Taking HUANG LIAN SU promptly will often shorten the course of this ailment. If diarrhea persists see a practitioner immediately.


These conditions exhibit both hot and cold symptoms – either concurrently or alternately. Some of these syndromes are diagnosed as IBS, Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis. Such conditions are complex, involving cyclical issues of yin turning into yang, of deficient becoming excess. Patients often show multiple food sensitivities. This can be successfully treated with Chinese herbs, but it always requires the skill of an experienced Chinese herbalist. Do not attempt self-treatment in these cases.

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Information on this site is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your own physician or another medical professional. We make no claims as to efficacy or safety of herbs or herbal medicine appearing on this site. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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