Shi Gao – Gypsum – “Stone Paste”

Nature: acrid, sweet, very cold

Enters: Lung, Stomach

Actions: Clears heat and reduces fire from the Lungs and stomach; eases restlessness and thirst; the calcined form promotes tissue regeneration.

• Lung/stomach, Yangming stage, or Qi level heat: big, forceful pulse, high fever, restlessness, thirst, profuse sweats, red tongue, yellow coat.
• Stomach channel fire: headache, swollen and painful gums, toothache.
• Lung heat: cough, wheezing, fever, thick, viscous sputum.
• Topical: use the calcined form for eczema, burns, ulcerated sores, non-healing carbuncles. This herb may also be taken internally for these conditions.
• This herb should be crushed and cooked 20-30 minutes longer than other herbs.
Shi gao is stronger at clearing Lung and stomach heat than Zhi mu or Lu gen.
Shi gao is commonly combined with Ma huang. Ma huang’s acrid quality helps to disperse Lung Qi, and its warm nature mitigates Shi gao’s coldness. Shi gao lessens Ma huang’s diaphoretic action, and its heavy quality helps Ma huang more effectively descend Lung Qi. Together, they effectively diffuse the Lungs and calm asthma, disinhibit urination and disperse swelling, clear heat and drain fire.
Li– “Shi gao is like Tylenol.” Can relieve pain and lower the body temperature.
MLT: Potent for lowering fever: high fever, including that associated with meningitis, encephalitis.
Shi gao has little or no antibiotic properties.
• If necessary for long term, repeated use (e.g. reddening of the face from food allergies), Shi hu may be a better choice.
Hsu: Reduces thirst; hypotensive; antiphlogistic; tranquilizing effect.
DY: Heavy, downbearing, draining; engenders fluids, alleviates thirst; resolves heat from the muscles and from the exterior.
• For inflammatory rheumatism or hot Bi, use 150g per day, and in severe cases, up to 250g/day.
• With Zhi mu to strongly clear and drain replete heat (from the Lungs and stomach) while protecting fluids and Yin. For such indications as:
– 1. Persistent high fever, great thirst and desire for cold drinks, dry tongue, vexation, profuse perspiration, and a surging, big pulse due to heat in the Qi division. (Use Bai Hu Tang.)
– 2. Upper thirsting and wasting with polydipsia, a dry mouth and tongue, and great thirst due to replete Lung heat damaging fluids. (Use stir-fried Zhi mu.)
• With Chuan xiong to dispel wind, clear and drain heat, quicken the blood and move the Qi, and stop pain. For headaches due to wind-heat or full heat (particularly that which is located in the Shaoyang or Jueyin channels). Use unprepared Chuan xiong. For wind-heat headaches, add herbs that dispel wind. Usual dosage of Shi gao for these indications is 30-60g.
• With Gui zhi to clear heat, free the flow of the network vessels, stop pain, and treat heat Bi or impediment. For such indications as rheumatic pain of the heat type with redness, heat, swelling, and severe pain in the joints. (Bai Hu Gui Zhi Tang)

Dose: 9-30g (to 90g for very high fevers)

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