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Chinese Gall (wu bei zi)

What is chinese gall? What is it used for?

The Chinese gall is the product of an insect, melaphis chinensis, a type of aphid that lives on certain trees throughout China. A typical gall is smooth and oblong, with a grayish-brown outer surface and a smooth, blackish-grey inner surface. It is prepared by being cooked and then dried.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese gall has sour, salty and cold properties, and is associated with the Kidney, Large Intestine and Lung meridians. Its main functions are to help contain lung qi and to absorb moisture.

Chinese gall has astringent, antidiarrheal and antibacterial properties. It treats digestive disorders such as diarrhea and dysentery, reduces coughs, congestion and inflammation, and helps to stop night sweats and spontaneous perspiration. Chinese gall can also be applied topically to stop bleeding, promote wound healing, and reduce scarring from burns, scrapes and cuts.

How much Chinese gall should I take?

The typical dose of Chinese gall is between 1.5 and 4.5 grams, decocted in water. If powdered Chinese gall is being decocted, smaller doses (0.5-1.5 grams) are recommended. Larger doses may be used if it is being applied externally.

What forms of Chinese gall are available?

Dried Chinese gall can be found at some Asian markets and specialty stores. Chinese gall is also available as a pill or powder.

What can happen if I take too much Chinese gall? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Chinese gall should be used with caution in patients diagnosed with excess heat, accumulation or stagnation. In addition, because of its strong astringent properties, it is recommended that the ingestion of drugs be performed at least two hours removed from taking Chinese gall to avoid interference with proper absorption. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking Chinese gall or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology. City of Industry, CA: Art of Medicine Press, 2004, pp. 990-992.
  • Huang Z, Zhou X, Li J, et al. The effects of traditional Chinese medicines on the adherence of streptococcus mutans to salivary acquired pellicle in vitro. Sichuan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban January 2003;34(1):135-7.
  • Huang ZW, Zhou XD, Xiao Y, et al. In vitro study of the effect of 11 kinds of natural drugs on the growth and acid production of lactobacillus. Shanghai Kou Qiang Yi Xue February 2005;14(1):67-70.
  • Li C, Zheng J, Li X, et al. The inhibitory effect of extracts from galla chinensis on marine fouling bacteria. Zhong Yao Cai February 2003;26(2):106-9.
  • Xie Q, Li JY, Zuo YL, et al. The effect of galla chinensis on the growth of cariogenic bacteria in vitro. Hua Xi Kou Qiang Yi Xue Za Zhi February 2005;23(1):82-4.

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