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Coptis for (Hot) Diarrhea

In Chinese Medicine Herbal Theory, herbs are matched to the recipient’s presentation. Just because you hear that an herb is good for diarrhea, it doesn’t always mean it’s the appropriate herb.

An herb that has been making the rounds lately is “Coptis”, also known as “Huang Lian” or “Rhizoma Coptidis”.

Flavor, Property and Channels

Bitter in flavor, cold in property, acts on the Heart, Liver, Stomach and Large Intestine channels

Functions

Removes Damp Heat, purges Fire, and counteracts toxicity.

Precautions

This is a very bitter and cold herb. It should not be used in large amounts, or over a long period of time. And, it should not be used when the dog has diarrhea with vomiting or if they have diarrhea due to Spleen Deficiency. It should also not be used for patterns of yang or yin deficiency.

Clinical Applications

This herb should only be given to a dog under the careful guidance of your Chinese Medicine practitioner. Typical signs that warrant this herb include:

  • Damp Heat in the whole body (fever, open sores on skin, red tongue, yellow coating)
  • Damp Heat in the intestines (bloody mucus diarrhea, dysentery)
  • Shen disturbance due to Heart Fire (anxiety, restlessness, hyperactivity, red tongue)
  • Blood Heat (vomiting of Blood, bloody stool)
  • Lick granuloma (boils, toxic skin ailments)
  • Stomach Fire (extreme hunger, burning sensation in Stomach, gastric ulcer, stomatitis, gingivitis, toothache, mouth and tongue ulcers)
  • Also used for vomiting and/or acid regurgitation when it is accompanied with Stomach Heat.

This herb is very bitter, very cold and drying in nature. Its intense coldness enables it to cool heat, and resolve toxicity. Its intense bitterness allows it to drain fire and dry dampness.

Should You Give This To Your Dog?

Ideally, you would be working with your practitioner that is well versed in Chinese Herbs to ensure this is the right herbal remedy for your dog’s presentation.

And typically with intense Heat signs that involve Blood, this would warrant an immediate vet visit.

If your dog has no signs of Heat, I would refrain from giving this herb to your dog.

Fasting

Puppies should never be fasted. Adult dogs can be fasted.

A 24 hour fast to let the stomach rest may be something to try with your dog. Make sure they have access to fluids and is well hydrated.

You can slowly start them back up on their regular diet after the fast or you can feed them a bland diet.

Bone Broth

Home made bone broth made from pork bones if possible, would be appropriate during this time. Typically a lot of fluid is lost during diarrhea and bone broth from pork bones will be ideal to help nourish Yin and replenish moisture.

Find pork bones from Asian ethnic stores.

Cook: In an crockpot with enough water to go over the bones + 2 inches on low for 8 to 24 hours on low. No apple cider vinegar needed.

Summary

Coptis, or Huang Lian is an herb that can be used for hot, damp, watery stools. It is not meant for long term use and can help resolve your dog’s acute diarrhea presentation.

That said, there are other herbs, and diet modifications that can be made if your dog isn’t suited for Huang Lian. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and not a substitute for consulting with a qualified herbal medicine practitioner.

This may be the time to look into personalized nutrition so that you can feed your dog enough of the right food for their constitution and lifestyle. 

If you need help with homemade recipes, book a call with me HERE.

I wish you and your dogs good health.

Resources:

Bensky, D., Gamble, A., & Kaptchuk, T. J. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Eastland Press.

Xie, Huisheng, Preast, Vanessa (2010). Xie’s Chinese Veterinary Herbology. Wiley-Blackwell

Author Biography

Hannah Zulueta obtained her Certificate in Canine Nutrition from CASI Institute. She is also studying for her Doctorate in Acupuncture, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Herbalism from the esteemed Pacific College of Health and Medicine.

She resides in San Diego with her three dogs, Maggie, Orbit, and Mr. Higgins.

She is available for one on one consultations. Additionally, you can find her sharing free content on Instagram.

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