How to Treat Indigestion with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Indigestion is one of the most common talked about health complaints. It comes with symptoms such as bloating, acid reflux, upset stomach, and nausea. It’s an uncomfortable feeling that so many deal with on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, modern medicine treats indigestion with medications that only suppress symptoms temporarily, without getting to the root cause of the issue. This is where Chinese Medicine is different.
Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer natural, long-lasting, and effective alternative treatment modalities for common indigestion complaints. Chinese Medicine works to get to the underlying cause/causes at hand to help you get long-lasting relief. It addresses the root cause without only treating the symptoms.
A Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Treating Indigestion
In addition to getting to the root of indigestion, TCM is different than western medicine as Traditional Chinese Medicine principles also take into account that emotional swings or dietary irregularities can weaken the liver’s ability to support Qi, while also impairing the spleen’s ability to transport and transform water and grain. Emotional and dietary imbalances can also damage the stomach’s ability to maintain the balance of upward and downward bearing Qi, leading to indigestion among other digestive imbalances. This is something that sets a Chinese Medicine approach, apart from how western medicine deals with indigestion and stomach related health complaints.
The Organs That Affect Digestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine
There are three different organs that affect digestion, according to TCM, which include:
- Liver: Stress directly affects the liver, which can then affect digestion. The liver will then negatively affect the spleen or the stomach, leading to symptoms of indigestion. Poor liver Qi causes a domino effect when it comes to digestive health.
If the liver is affecting the health of your stomach, then you may experience issues related to the upper digestive tract such as acid reflux, hiccups, belching, nausea, and vomiting. You may also retain food in your stomach for longer periods of time, and experience bloating.
- Spleen: If the liver is affecting the spleen, then you may experience symptoms such as irritability, abdominal distention (bloating), abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and gas.
- Stomach: The stomach is obviously the largest player here when it comes to digestion, but it’s important to know that other organs like the liver and the spleen need to be in balance as well. Liver and spleen Qi imbalances can negatively affect the stomach, and lead to symptoms like indigestion.
Liver Qi Invading the Spleen
Having imbalanced liver Qi can be a cause of poor digestive function. A modern and fast-paced lifestyle with too much stress and not enough time for relaxation can put stress on our liver, which can affect our digestion and result in “liver qi invading the spleen”.
Signs and symptoms: of this include poor appetite, irritability, and anxiety.
Consuming high cholesterol foods burden our digestive system. A poor and high cholesterol diet paired with a lack of physical activity can put stress on our digestive system. This can also lead to phlegm and dampness in the body, which can lead to dampness retention syndrome.
Signs and symptoms: of this include acid reflux, poor appetite, and indigestion.
Spleen and Stomach Deficiency
Spleen and stomach deficiency (qi deficiency) can be caused by consuming meals infrequently or picky eating habits.
Signs and symptoms: include poor appetite, lack of taste, abdominal pain, and loose stools.
Common Digestive Disorders
Below are some of the most commonly seen digestive disorders.
- Indigestion: Indigestion is commonly explained as a feeling of bloating or fullness, but many people also experience gas.
- IBS: Also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, comes with symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation, and or diarrhea. Traditional Chinese Medicine has been found to be very beneficial for those with IBS. (1)
- Heartburn/Acid Reflux: Acid reflux is another very common digestive related condition. TCM modalities like acupuncture have been found to be extremely beneficial for those with acid reflux. A 2010 clinical study found that acupuncture was able to help improve patients symptoms with GER and that it is generally very well tolerated by patients. (2) Two other studies, one conducted in 2005, and one in 2008, also found very promising results in acupuncture, helping to ease symptoms of acid reflux. This included research that found that acupuncture was more effective than doubling the PPI dose in those who failed the standard PPI dosing. (3,4)
Treatment For Indigestion with Chinese Medicine
1.Acupuncture: As we just talked about, acupuncture has been scientifically shown to help treat acid reflux. However, The World Health Organization has come out with a list of many different conditions that have been found to respond well to acupuncture, including gastritis, peptic ulcer, nausea, and vomiting. This is because acupuncture has been shown to help restore normal functions of the digestive system, while also supporting immune health, calming the stress response, and reducing inflammation.
2. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition plays a role in every aspect of health, and eating foods to strengthen the liver, and the stomach is going to be key to easing indigestion. Some great foods to enjoy include in your diet include sour foods, Chinese radish and cabbage, dandelion tea, and broccoli. You will also want to avoid raw and cold foods, as well as spicy, fried, and barbecued foods.
3. Daily Supplements
GinSen’s daily supplements are a herbal blend of 100% natural indgredients. These food supplements are designed to target specific indigestion condition by getting to the root cause of the problem.
4. Chinese Herbs for Indigestion
Chinese herbs are highly effective in treating digestive issues by getting to the root cause of the condition, providing long lasting relief. Chinese herbs are often combined to give you the best effective result, which is why we recommend the herbal blend food supplements. However, if you are curious about which specific herbs are great for indigestion we recommend the below. Please consult your TCM practioner before consuming any of the mentioned herbs.
- Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes)
- Fu Ling (Poria Mushroom)
- Yi Yi Ren (Coix Seed)
- Chai Hu (Bupleurum)
Support Better Digestion With TCM
If you suffer from frequent indigestion or other digestive-related health issues, then consider a Traditional Chinese Medicine approach to help get to the root of the problem. Getting to the root of the issue as opposed to just masking the symptoms, will help support better health long-term.
Consider acupuncture, supporting your liver with optimal liver supporting nutrition choices, and supporting emotional health to reduce stress. This can all go a very long way in supporting better digestive health.