General Causes of Stomach Dysfunction

The main causes of stomach dysfunction include external pathogenic cold, heat, dryness; excess of energetically too hot or too cold foods; and irregular eating habits. While the spleen assures that clear gu qi (drum qi) reaches the upper burner, the stomach's task is to transport the turbid components downward into the intestines. Impairment of this function can lead to vomiting, which TCM calls "qi vomiting" (qi ou). The stomach is unable to downbear qi, and as a result, it counterflows pathologically upward.


A good example for excess "external pathogenic cold" is what often happens to children who spend their summer eating ice cream, drinking cold sodas, and staying in a cold swimming pool for longer periods, or running around in wet swim-suits. This can cool down and block the sensitive stomach qi of children in particular, resulting in stomach pain and lack of appetite. If this cold penetrates the body more deeply, it can cause stomach yang vacuity with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Ginger or spiced tea, fennel tea

Acupuncture or, for children, acupressure; moxa if applicable.

Strengthen stomach qi and spleen qi pP • PC-6! • ST-36 • CV-12

• Unfavorable eating habits

Avoid eating too quickly and hastily, skipping breakfast, or insufficient breakfast. The best time for building up stomach qi is in the morning between 7 and 9 a.m.

Avoid irregular mealtimes, discussions at mealtime, and business lunches or dinners with exhausting conversations.

Avoid eating too late in the evening or during the night (weak period for the stomach). If the stomach is filled with too much food during its weak period, it is unable to transform and transport the food. This results in "food stagnation" in the stomach, accompanied by bloating and disturbed sleep. Protracted weakening of stomach qi weakens stomach yin. Obesity is a common consequence of this condition. Frequently changing diets, following unbalanced nutritional advice, and fasting lead first to stomach qi vacuity, then to spleen qi vacuity, and may reduce the overall qi and yang of the body. During times of stress, it is especially important to concentrate on a balanced and regular diet.

• Emotional factors

Emotional stress factors, especially anger and worry, have a distinct adverse impact on stomach function. A Chinese saying advises not eating immediately after an argument, so that the qi has time to calm down first. Sudden food cravings and eating out of frustration can be symptoms of unbalanced stomach qi. Strong (or suppressed) emotions can give rise to depressed qi, which then transforms into fire (Wiseman) and can cause sudden cravings. Qi stagnation caused by suppressed or intense emotions can also block the flow of qi in stomach, spleen, and even lungs. The resulting food stagnation prevents food from being trans

Foods that weaken stomach function

Cold foods

Raw foods, salad, ice cream, fruit, cold drinks

Cool stomach and spleen

Hot foods

Acrid spices such as pepper, curry, garlic, or ginger

Damage stomach, create stomach heat

Yang foods

Lamb, alcoholic beverages

Damage stomach, create stomach heat

Sugar and sweets

Create dampness and phlegm, which weaken the spleen and damage stomach due to heat

Fatty foods

Create dampness and phlegm

formed properly. As a result, the body is not supplied with sufficient qi. Frequently, food passes through the digestive tract and is eliminated only partially digested (wan gu bu hua, or nontransformation of food), and little use is made of the potential food energy (spleen vacuity with food damage, or pi xu jia shi). As a result, stomach and qi are not supplied with sufficient acquired qi and weakened in case of protracted emotional obstruction. Other factors involving the stomach are physical and mental exhaustion, congenital weakness, and even the wrong treatment strategies or medicines.


Diet: The most common cause of stomach qi vacuity is insufficient and inappropriate diet: Eating irregularly, eating too much or too little, fatty food; onesided, unbalanced diets.

General: Chronic illnesses


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