Gluten Part 3- Herbs
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Gluten Part 3- Herbs

As mentioned in Part 1, gluten sensitivity is easier to diagnose and treat than gluten intolerance in Western medicine. However, in Chinese medicine there are MANY herbal formulas to address this problem. They are composed of herbs that "Regulate Qi" and relieve "Food Stagnation". Ironically, "sprouted" grains & seeds, fruits, and fermentation are HEALING and indispensable:

fu xiao mai [wheat]

yi yi ren [pearl barley] is not believed to be allergenic

malt [dried barley sprout]

mai ya [sprouted barley] assists with the digestion of starchy foods, dairy, and protein. Beneficial for weak digestion with loss of appetite [SP deficiency], belching. It contains the enzymes invertase, amylase, protease. It also contains some vitamin Bs, vitamin C, maltose, and dextrose.

su ya [sprouted millet]
strengthens the ST and relieves undigested starch. It gently reduces food accumulation without exhausting qi like mai ya can. 

dao ya [sprouted rice] tones the middle jiao [organs of digestion & assimilation] when sprouted to approximately 2 cm. When dry fried or raw the sprouts open the SP to receive food, and the digestion of starchy foods, 

lai fu zi [radish seed] dry fried it descends qi to relieve distension and belching with a rotten egg smell [SIBO]. The unprepared form raises qi to relieve phlegm and wheezing.

shen qu [massa medica] is fermented/ enzymatic wheat and/or barley. This medicinal leaven aids in mineral absorption, and attenuates the effect of excess alcohol and carbohydrate ingestion. Beneficial for all types of diarrhea, epigastric distension, poor appetite.

shan zha [hawthrone fruit] assists with the digestion of meat & greasy foods, benefits atheroclerosis.

jie nei jin [chicken gizzard lining] is for various types of food stagnations and childhood nutritional impairment.  it can be used alone or in combination to strengthen the SP/ST. It increases gastric juices, is anti-emetic, and anti-diarrheal, and lithotriptic for gall stones.

Ginger [sheng/gan jiang] is prokinteic, meaning it promotes peristalsis by stimulating the migrating motor complexes [MMC] that are sometimes damaged after an acute episode of gastroenteritis. SIBO is the result of damaged MMC; the main symptoms of SIBO is BLOAT and BELCHING. 

A formula called Da Shan Zha Wan contains shen qu, malt sugar & hawthorne berry for strengthening digestion of proteins.  The formula Jian Pi Wan is often prepared by adding shen qu for strengthening digestion [of fats]; especially useful for abdominal bloating and loose stools. And Bao He Wan is a classic formulation for food accumulating in the stomach without being digested well.

Gui Zhi Tang & Cinnamon
One amazingly versatile formula is called Gui Zhi Tang [GZT] which is used during the recovery/ remission phase of irritable bowel diseases [IBD] such as Chron's, and Celiac disease. It's Chief ingredients are bai shao/ peony which astringes inflammation, and cinnamon. Cinnamon [gui zhi] contains 2 main volatile oils [essential oil] constituents: the aldehyde is yin, cooling, calming, and antispasmodic, as well as anti fungal. the phenol is yang, energizing, and stimulating, as well as highly antimicrobial. So in theory, cinnamon is a balancing substance when used and/ or prepared properly in Western herbal medicine. 

Cinnamon is considered a gastrointestinal adaptinogen for diarrhea or constipation. It is PRE biotic [feeds good bacteria in the gut]. The slimy mucilage in the dregs soothes & coats the intestinal mucosa. Thus [at least in Western herbology] cinnamon ameliorates MANY gut issues such as IBD, leaky gut, SIBO etc. 

According to Chinese medical theorists, the formal GZT is indicated during the recovery stage of irritable bowel diseases to re-ignite the small intestine's Ministerial Fire. Ironically, after the inflammation, spasm, and/or auto-immune reactivity has calmed down [assisted by the aldehyde, and bai shao], small intestinal mucosal [villous] atrophy remains- and this is when the Mingmen Fire needs strengthening. 

GZT is classically used for exterior syndromes such as colds & flus when we are still dealing with either autonomic dysregulation or with innate/ non specific immune responses. In Chinese medical theory, the gut lining is the interior of the exterior. Meaning it is still protecting the interior!  This is in contrast to the Western perspective when the Adaptive [specific & acquired] immunes responses [more interior] kick in causing chronic GI inflammation. In either case GZT can be used in appropriate ways and combined with other herbs in various doses for more internal problems. For example, leaky gut [a sequel of chronic gI inflammation] has far reaching systemic sequel. GZT isa the base formula for many Gut-Brain related psychological problems.
integrative Medicine Tips: 

  1. FREE OFFERS from Gluten Society:  Leaky Gut Solution Guide + Live Q&A Session with Dr. Osborne upon purchase of his $16 book "No Grain No Pain" and Gluten sensitivity self-test.
  2. Chinese herbal medicine for Celiac disease. "Western manufacturers of Chinese herbal products have been well aware of consumer concerns about use of potentially allergenic grains in the production of finished products, so that wheat, barley, corn, or other additives (such as soy) are not used in the manufacturing process"[Dharmananda, 2005].

Alexander, T. (2016). Gluten related disorders. In Functional Medicine University.

Dharmananda, S. (2005). Gluten in Chinese herbs. In Institute for Traditional Medicine [ITM]. Retrieved from

Gluten Free Society. (2014). Traditional gluten free diets fail. Retrieved from

Jaffe, R. (2016). LRA by ELISA/ACT: Functional tests for immune tolerance. In Functional Medicine University. 

Osborne, P. (2016). Gluten certification. In Functional Medicine University.


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