Evergreen Acupuncture & Herbs

Health Education Articles

Acupuncture and Stomach Pains

By Kimberly Guorong Du

Stomach pains are often seen in acute or chronic gastritis, duodenitis, peptic ulcer, stomach neurosis etc. The etiology and pathogenesis in Chinese medical terms are different from conventional medicine. Chinese medicine believe that the cause of stomach pain are mostly as following reasons:

  1. External cold invading the stomach, irregular food intake, over preference for raw and cold food, irregular eating habit, often hunger or over eating and eating too much sweet fatty food would injure the spleen and stomach and cause failure of spleen in transportation and transformation and failure of stomach Chi in descending, Then pain appears.

  2. Anxiety, anger and depression damage the liver, cause failure of the liver Chi in dominating free flow of Chi, adversely attack the stomach, and impede its activity and hindering its Chi descending, then pain appears. If this damage stays too long it may transform to heat, then the heat would consume Yin or causing blood stagnation, thus it make the problem more difficult to cure.

  3. Generally weak functioning of the spleen and stomach, due to invasion of pathogenic cold that is stagnated in the stomach, causes failure of the stomach Chi in descending, and then pain occurs.

From above analysis of the reasons, we can understand that in order to avoid stomach pain we need to adjust our living habit carefully with our food, try our best to avoid too much cold, frozen, raw food and spice, pay attention to a sudden weather change, add or reduce your clothes appropriately, adjust our schedule to minimize stress. Especially for the people who already have stomach problem should be more careful. If your conventional medical treatment doesn't work, you can consider the acupuncture treatment. It would be a good choice. Next article we will discuss how Chinese medicine differentiates the pains.

Differentiation would help a Chinese medical doctor to determine the choice of which acupuncture points should be chosen and what other methods should be used too, such as moxibustion or Chinese herbal formula etc. Below are some typical samples for differentiation:

  1. Invasion of pathogenic cold:

    Stomach pain occurs suddenly. The patients dislike cold but warm. They like to apply warm pad to their stomach to reduce some pain. They don't feel thirsty but may like to drink some warm water or soup. Patients tongue coating is white and their pulses are tight.

  2. Retention of food:

    Patients feel the distending or even pain in the epigastrium, aggravated on pressure or after meals, belching with fetid odor, anorexia. They may vomit with undigested food. After vomiting the pain may reduce. Patients usually have thick, sticky tongue coating and deep, forceful or rolling pulse.

  3. The liver Chi attacks the stomach:

    Patients feel abdominal distension, pain in the epigastrium and radiating to the hypochondriac regions. They belch frequently. Some patients may notice that their anger or mental depression would trigger the pain. Patient's tongue coating is usually white thin. Their pulses are string-taut.

  4. Liver and stomach heat:

    Patients feel stomach pain with burning sensation. They may also have the symptom of vexation, irascibility, and acid reflux, clamoring stomach and thirst or bitter taste in the mouth. Patient's tongues are red with yellow coating. Their pulses may be string-taut or fast.

  5. Yin deficiency of stomach:

    Patients feel dull pain in the stomach. They also have dry mouth and throat. They may feel thirst but don't want to drink a lot of water. They may also be constipated. Some of them may diarrhea. Their tongues are red and lack of moist. Patients usually have thin and rapid pulses.

  6. Blood stagnation:

    Patients feel stomach pain of fixed location. The pains may like the stabbing of a needle or cutting of a knife. The pains occur or the pains worsen after meal. Some patients may vomit blood or have black stool. Their tongues may look dark purple. They usually have rough pulses.

  7. Spleen-stomach cold deficiency:

    Patients of this type usually feel dull pains in their stomachs. They may feel more pain when their stomachs are empty, after eating the pains are probably reduced. They often have decreased appetite. They probably have clear watery reflux. They may like warm or pressure on their stomachs. Patients often feel tired and lack of warmth in their extremities. Their tongues are pale and pulses are weak.

After reading above, patients may have some ideals about their pains from Chinese medical perspective, or they may still be unsure what types are their pains. Also it could be a complex of more than one type and it may transform from one type to another.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are complementary and alternative choices in which many patients have found pain relief.