Case Studies: Natural Solutions for Heat Conditions

Natural solutions for hot conditions

| May/June 2000

I’ve never been a big fan of electric blankets, but as I sat with Nancy in my clinic, I could tell that the new electric blanket she and her husband, Harold, were using was definitely a big problem for her.

It seemed that Harold was always running cold at night. He liked to crank up the electric blanket and pile on a down comforter and a few wool blankets. Nancy would inevitably awaken in the night covered with sweat with Harold’s ice-cold feet on her.

A history of heat

Nancy told me she had always been on the hot side—ever since she was a kid. She had actually come in to the clinic because of recurring bladder infections and sharp pains in her upper abdomen. Her doctor had checked her out, ordered an ultrasound, and found stones in her gallbladder. Gin­gerly placing her hand over the offending area, she said, “Dr. Brady said my gallbladder was in pretty bad shape; he called it cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder.”

I checked Nancy’s tongue and found a thick yellow, greasy coating, especially toward the back. Her pulses were very full and robust. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Nancy’s condition is known as “True Heat.” Unlike many patients I see, Nancy did not have a deficiency condition; rather, she had an excess of dampness and heat accumulating in her lower intestinal area.

Dampness and heat are two major disease-causing factors in TCM. The idea that an excess of heat or dampness accumulates in various organs or areas of the body and can cause disease is an ancient concept in many cultures. It’s thought that excess heat can lead to inflammation and infection, eventually causing scarring and hardening of an organ or tissues. Dampness accentuates this process.

Avoiding surgery

Nancy told me her doctor recommended surgery to remove her gallbladder. He told her that a cholecystectomy, or removal of the gallbladder, was extremely common and easy. “I told him, ‘Thanks, but I’d rather keep it,’ ” she said. “That’s why I came to you. Can I save my gallbladder?”

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