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Quell Fire

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Kan Herbals

Quells Liver Fire, clears Damp Heat in the Liver, Gall Bladder and Triple Burner meridians.

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According to Chinese Herbology, the Liver’s character can be described in various ways. The oldest Chinese book says the Liver “is the general who plans” (Su Wen, chapter 8), and is the “foundation for curtailing extremes” (chapter 9. Liu Shao, in Records of Personages (c. 200 A.D.), states that its disposition is “gentle, yet upright and docile, yet strong.” The Comprehensive Discussions in the White Tiger Hall (c. 1st century A.D.) says its responsibility is “to direct the feeling of consideration for others.” The philosopher Chen Chun (1159-1223 A.D.), writing in Master of Bei-Xi’s Explanation of Terms (volume 1, section 8), says that the Liver’s Wood “has benevolence as its spirit and . . . is the leader of all virtues.”

Inordinate Fire disturbs the Liver, making it reckless, which causes it to burst beyond the confines of proper boundaries and explode through the restraints of harmonious life. Excessive Damp Heat makes the Liver spill over delineated borders, creating disorder and disregard. Li Dong-Yuan (1180-1251 A.D.), in his Fragrant Room Secret Depository, created this formula to respond to such situations.


Because the Liver, Gallbladder and Triple Burner cover such a wide range of physical functions in the body (their meridians extend from the head, eyes and ears downward to the genitals and legs), a list of their disharmonies would be far-reaching. To summarize, an occasional redness or red eruption, swelling, heat, occasional discharge or odor along these meridians can be a sign of Fire or Damp Heat affecting the Liver’s energy. A wiry pulse (an indication of boundary issues) or possibly a flooding and fast pulse (a sign of bursting through borders) often confirms that these Heat signs indicate Liver and not other Heat patterns. Whenever a Liver Heat pattern underlies disharmonies in the eyes, ears, nose, throat, head, chest, skin, urinary system, reproductive organs or legs, Quell Fire can be a suitable formula.


The disruptive bursting of boundaries is characteristic of Liver Fire. Anger, irritability, animosity and hostility are all characteristic of this pattern. The world is seen as somehow subject to a person’s desires and wishes. Damp Heat patterns can also produce what Huang Fu-Mi (214- 282 A.D.) called an emotional “holding on” in the Gallbladder, which may result in a vengeful, vindictive and unforgiving stance.

Chen Chun, in the Song Dynasty, extended these notions even further in his Master of Bei-Xi’s Explanation of Terms: “Affection . . . attention to the separate functions, order and faithfulness are nothing but the operation of (the Liver Wood’s) benevolence,” he says. This principle “is always active, producing and reproducing without cessation     As soon as there is the slightest selfish human desire mixed in  it can no longer be called benevolence.” Excess Fire and Damp Heat obstruct the capacity of the Liver to develop consideration for one’s fellow human beings. Liver Fire and Damp Heat precipitate abhorrence or festering resentment. Quell Fire can be a first step towards embracing and softening this rage, reestablishing the order of things and beginning a movement towards benevolence and virtue.

Quell Fire helps to cool, restrain and clarify explosive Liver energy and clearly demark overflowing and fulminating Liver Damp Heat. Quell Fire restores the Liver’s sense of smooth flowing movement and harmonious recognition of responsible limits throughout the Liver, Gallbladder and Triple Burner meridians.


The earliest precursor of Quell Fire (Long Dan Xie Gan Tang) is Sun Si-Miao’s Tang Dynasty “Gentiana Drain the Liver Soup”. Li Dong-Yuan (1180-1251 A.D.) crafted the original “Gentiana Drain the Liver Soup” in his Fragrant Room Secret Depository in 1245 A.D. Many versions of this formula followed, but the most important is that of Wang Ang. Dr. Wang added Skullcap, Gardenia and Licorice to Dr. Li’s original formula in his Collected Formulas and Explanations (1682 A.D.). This revised version was adopted in the Golden Mirror in 1742 A.D., and is the one most commonly used in China today.


Raw Rehmannia root quells Fire and cools the Blood. It is sweet, bitter and cold, and enters the Heart, Liver and Kidney meridians.

Plantain seed reinforces draining of Dampness. It also expels Lower Burner Damp Heat and clears Liver Heat. It is sweet, bland and cold, and enters the Kidney, Bladder and Liver meridians.

Gardenia fruit is an important Wang Ang addition to the formula. Gardenia fruit was described most succinctly by Zhu Dan-Zhi in the Yuan Dynasty (1281-1358 A.D.): “It drains the Fire of the Three Burners.” It is bitter and cold and enters the Liver, Gallbladder, Triple Burner, Pericardium, Lung and Stomach meridians.

Chinese skullcap root “upwardly moves and drains Lung Fire, downwardly moves and drains Bladder fire,” according to the Materia Medica of South Yunnan (c. 1450 A.D.); “Chinese skullcap root expels the full Fire and full Heat from the six meridians.” It is bitter and cold, and, in modern times, is said to enter the Heart, Lung, Gallbladder and Large Intestine meridians.

Dong quai root provides nourishment for the Liver so that the draining herbs have no deleterious consequences, according to Li Dong-Yuan. It is sweet, acrid, bitter and warm, and enters the Heart, Liver and Spleen meridians.

Asian water plantain rhizome is important for eliminating Dampness. It is sweet, bland and cold, and enters the Kidney and Bladder meridians.

Bupleurum root regulates and adjusts Liver Qi and, according to Li Dong-Yuan, plays a crucial role in Quell Fire because it insures that the rest of the formula enters the Liver meridian. It is bitter, slightly acrid and cool, and enters the Liver and Gallbladder meridians.

Chinese gentian root and rhizome quells excess Fire in the Upper Burner, drains Damp Heat in the Lower Burner and is important for all Liver Fire and Damp Heat patterns. It is bitter and cold, and enters the Liver, Gallbladder and Bladder meridians.

Soft rush pith promotes urination, clears Heat from the Heart channel downward into the Small Intestine channel to be expelled in urine. It is sweet, bland and cold, and enters the Bladder, Kidney, Liver and Lung meridians.

Chinese licorice root and rhizome harmonizes the formula and helps absorption of the other herbs. It is sweet and warm, and enters all twelve meridians.