Shi Gao (Gypsum)

What Is Shi Gao

Shi Gao is also known as Gypsum and is a soft sulfate mineral. It is a commonly used mineral medicine, which first appeared in <Shennong Ben Cao Jing> in the late Western Han Dynasty (around 100 BCE).

This ore is widely distributed, and the main producing areas are the United States, China, Iran, Spain, Germany, and France.

They are industrial materials and building materials with a wide range of uses. They are often used in cement retarders, gypsum building products, plaster models, medical food additives, sulfuric acid production, paper fillers, and paint fillers.

In any season, people can mine gypsum. People mine gypsum, remove sand and impurities, crush them into small pieces, use them directly, or calcine them for topical use.

The main component of gypsum is hydrous calcium sulfate (CaSO4·2H2O), of which the content of CaSO4·2H2O is not less than 95%. In addition, it contains organic compounds, sulfur compounds, and trace elements such as titanium, aluminum, and silicon.

Generally, white or off-white Shi Gao with a silky luster in the longitudinal section is preferred.

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Shi Gao is extremely cold, with a pungent and sweet taste. It has a certain therapeutic effect on the pathological changes of the lung and stomach meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to clear heat and purge fire, relieve restlessness and quench thirst, heal sores and promote tissue regeneration, stop bleeding, and treat fever, hemorrhagic fever, cough, lung abscesses, whooping cough, toothache, sore throat, oral ulcers, constipation, flu, acute pneumonia, bronchitis, peribronchitis, leprosy neuralgia, Japanese encephalitis, acute radiation esophagitis, infective endocarditis, asthmatic bronchitis, type 2 diabetes, and acute surgical inflammation.

There are about 600 kinds of Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Bai Hu Tang, Da Qing Long Tang, and Huang Lian Shang Qing Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting rat foot swelling induced by egg white or carrageenan.
  • Raising the pain threshold and inhibiting the pain caused by the hot plate experiment and glacial acetic acid experiment in mice.
  • Inhibiting the overexcited body temperature regulation center during fever and reducing fever induced by dry yeast in rats.
  • Increasing the number of T lymphocytes and the phagocytosis rate of peritoneal phagocytes, and improving immunity.
  • Clearing sthenic heat in the lungs and stomach, treating high fever, polydipsia, sweating, and full pulse caused by febrile diseases.
  • Purging sthenic heat in the qifen, treating coma, delirium, and eruption caused by flaring heat in qifen and xuefen.
  • Treating lingering heat, dysphoria, and thirst caused by summer-heat or febrile diseases.
  • Clearing lung heat, treating cough, fever, and thirst caused by lung heat.
  • Purging stomach fire, treating swollen gums and headaches caused by stomach fire attacking the upper.
  • Clearing stomach heat, treating polydipsia, hyperdiuresis, overeating with marasmus, fatigue, high blood sugar, and urine sugar caused by stomach heat.
  • Removing dampness, relieving itching, and treating eczema.
  • Healing sore and promoting tissue regeneration, treating long-unclosed ulcers, repairing burns, scalds, and infected wounds.
  • Shortening blood clotting time, treating traumatic bleeding and acute sprains, and accelerating fracture healing.
  • A small dose of gypsum infusion can excite the toad heart, and a large dose of gypsum infusion can inhibit the toad’s heart.
  • Studies have found that it has a certain inhibitory effect on Proteus and Staphylococcus aureus in vitro.


Side Effects

  • At present, there is no report in the literature that Shi Gao (calcined Shi Gao) has toxic effects, and no reports of serious adverse reactions have been found when taking it (calcined Shi Gao) in prescribed doses.
  • Overdose of it may cause fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, nausea, stomach upset, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
  • If you take Shi Gao with high arsenic content, it may cause toxic reactions, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Individual patients may experience contact dermatitis, pruritus, skin burns, diffuse erythema, and miliary rash after the external application of plaster bandages.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Shi Gao should be controlled at 15-60g.
  • It can be made into decoctions, pills, powders, or calcined for external use.
  • It has a hard texture, and its effective ingredients are not easy to extract. It is recommended to break it, put it in a container and cook for 10-15 minutes, then add other medicines and cook it together.
  • People who are allergic to Shi Gao should not take it.
  • It should not be taken with Ba Dou (Croton Seed), aspirin, tetracycline antibiotics, digitalis cardiac glycosides, or levodopa tablets at the same time.
  • People with deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach should not take it.
  • People with internal heat due to yin-deficiency should not take it.
  • People with blood deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women and breastfeeding women should take it under the guidance of a doctor.
  • The unprocessed Shi Gao is often used for clearing heat and purging fire, and the calcined Shi Gao is often used for healing sores and promoting tissue regeneration.