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Well why? Why does my stomach hurt?
Even if it doesn't hurt it may cramp, flutter, make noises, or bloat.
Chinese medicine has 10 basic ways of explaining what goes wrong in your abdomen. Once you understand them, you'll see what can be done, and what you can do to help. But first, what about that WHY?
Your stomach organ lies at the front of your body partly under your lower ribs and partly in the area of your upper abdomen.
Of course some people say 'why does my stomach hurt' when they actually mean elsewhere in their abdomen.
On this page we sticking to your upper abdomen, the part above your belly-button in the arch formed by your ribs. Behind that lies your stomach organ.
As in Western medicine, in Chinese medicine there are many possible reasons, but here's a summary of the things you may be able to do something about. So, 'Why does my stomach hurt'?
So read on for some answers to 'why does my stomach hurt'!
Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Rocky Reston
Why does my stomach hurt?
It's hard not to think, isn't it? While you're awake, your brain goes all the time, with thoughts and emotions that swill around, changing your equilibrium from minute to minute.
That leads to changes in appetite and digestion, but also poor bowel action and eventually poor circulation, sometimes with the beginning of varicose veins.
People who sit at desks or computers to work are very prone to this. Their job requires them to stare at a computer all day, not moving much except arms.
That's not what our genes evolved at all for our physical behaviour! We have inherited bodies that need physical actitivity to function. We NEED to walk and run, to stand and sit, to lift and stretch. Then we get tired and our Stomachs 'know' exactly what to do.
But if you frequently sit at work for hours
When you are young, learning and studying, you should also be taking vigorous exercise regularly to counteract all this sitting and its consequences.
As you grow older, exercise can become harder to maintain as responsibilities and worries weigh us down.
But we should make at least some exercise, even if just regular walking for 30 minutes, a priority. Otherwise, you'll still be wondering why does my stomach hurt!
If you work at a desk, get up every half-hour for a short walk. Set an alarm for this!
Visit the loo, walk round your desk, stretch, bend and flex your body; spring up and down on your toes.
Don't just sit there and eat something! That makes it worse! Then you'll definitely say Why does my stomach hurt?
Why does my stomach hurt?
Worry is like over-thinking, but worse. It brings tension as well. So you get many of the problems of over-thinking, even when physically active because Chinese medicine recognised thousands of years ago that worry 'binds' the Stomach.
The word they used is actually 'stagnates' and it's the Qi in your Stomach that stagnates.
As such, it can't digest properly and it prevents Qi moving smoothly along the many pathways of your Stomach channel, straining your appetite, lowering your energy and weakening your legs.
That means you get problems like those mentioned above under 'over-thinking', but worse.
Worry comes in many forms.
Of course, everyone has the occasional worries, just like our ancestors: leaky caves, no woolly mammoths, too many woolly mammoths, no clothing, sodden clothing, rapacious neighbours, toothache, cold, flood, heat and famine.
So our bodies are designed to cope. But they were also designed to move around, to work physically. Not just to sit.
And not just to sit and worry.
In a bigger sense, if we don't like what we've got, we can move on. People leave jobs and move to new areas. The moving involves worry but it brings solutions too.
In the past, our forbears could always move on if something worried them too much. Mass migration happened in the past, is happening now and will always happen.
Probably it should keep happening for continued health, so our genes mix and our descendants are blessed with better adaptability...
... otherwise they too will say Why does my stomach hurt?
"Why does my Stomach hurt?"
Until recently, many doctors believed that medication would solve all health problems. They thought food important but nothing like as important for health as their medicinal drugs.
In all the talk about food nutrient quality, something the ancient Chinese noticed has been overlooked.
"Why does my stomach hurt after eating those foods?"
The ancient Chinese
... and they believed the Stomach was one of the central organs in the body for health. For what they thought the Stomach did, click here.
They thought that what you swallowed could make or break you! But almost as important ...
Many of us live in houses with roofs that keep the water out and the warmth in. We enjoy fast food and the ability to prepare food fast.
We also enjoy frozen foods and drinks. When the temperature around you is warm, the warmth of the food you eat doesn't seem important.
The ancient Chinese must also have asked 'Why does my stomach hurt?' They lived in a climate that could be very warm in the summer, and very cold in the winter, with no central heating in their houses - just a warm fire if they were fortunate.
The Chinese noticed that people often got sick if they ate cold or iced food or drink. Of course, if you were healthy, fit and in good energy this didn't arise. But if you were sick or tired, it might.
And the food's temperature made a huge difference if you were cold.
So as a general rule, they said don't eat food that is cold or iced or chilled, especially if you are tired, cold or ill.
Why? Because, your Stomach is a warm, damp environment for a good reason. That's exactly the right environment to digest food.
(If you look at the two tubs in the picture, you'll see that they contain yogurt with live cultures. We've been led to believe that live cultures like these are good for us. The Chinese tradition, however, warns us not to eat them when we are tired, cold or ill. Even though the cultures may help us, the temperature of the food harms us more.)
If you eat something too cold, (or dry), your Stomach has to work harder. That's fine if you are in good health; probably not a problem. But if not ... 'Why does my stomach hurt?!'
Cold must have been a major cause of illness, because they spent a great deal of time thinking about it, and classifying foods so that they knew which foods were appropriate for every condition - and also which were inappropriate.
They noticed other things about food too.
That means, make sure it is properly prepared and cooked, and eaten while the food is warm. (Again, if you're fit and healthy, you can break these rules occasionally!)
For more about food, click Nutrition.
For vitamins and minerals, click Supplements.
"Why Does My Stomach Hurt on these days?"
Well it may be because, too often, I eat food the wrong way!
If you've ever watched cows eating, you'll know they like a calm, unhurried life. They eat grass then chew the cud. They take their time. If you make dairy cows run, their milk production suffers.
I don't know what happens if you make beef cattle run all the time, but I'm inclined to believe that they get thin and scraggy: not suitable for the chef!
Treat your Stomach like a big strong cow. It likes proper food, regularly, with time to digest. Then it will pass on to you its huge strength and endurance.
Otherwise you'll know 'why does my stomach hurt?'.
"Why does my stomach hurt?"
In Chinese medicine, the environment you inhabit can make a big difference to your health. In a way, we're gradually realising this.
We know that warm, humid conditions like in
... can all be breeding grounds for germs and viruses.
One sneeze, and everyone breathes your bugs!
Mostly, such poorly ventilated atmospheres affect our lungs first. But the condition of our lungs has a huge effect on our stomachs. (As you may have read above, your Lung channel starts in your stomach! Because of this, the condition of your Stomach energy has a very direct energy on your Lungs, and vice versa.)
You need air to digest food: not at the first stage but later, as your blood picks up oxygen on its last stop in the lungs before your heart sends it hurtling round the system to revitalise your body - including your stomach.
Eventually, poor air gives poor digestive powers.
Eat in a well-ventilated area and sit upright when and after you eat, so you don't compress your chest or upper abdomen.
And where you eat also makes a difference to how hygienically your food is prepared, as we now know from all the E Coli problems we have now.
Probably in the past healthy people's stomachs were more able to cope with E Coli and the like. We eat food that is too clean sometimes and so we lose the ability to cope with a bit of dirt.
So make sure you eat in a clean place.
Otherwise you'll say 'Why does my stomach hurt?'
Why does my stomach hurt today?
Especially in cold or very dry weather.
Cold weather can upset it because it makes you cold, diverting energy from your stomach to keep you warm.
Worse, if you are cold and you're eating cold food, your stomach is going to have to really labour properly to digest what you eat.
Too much dry food can also upset your stomach. It needs moisture and warm, humid conditions to work efficiently.
Similarly, dry weather, especially warm dry weather, depletes your body's fluids, in time reducing the humidity in your stomach. (Of course, a day or two of dry weather doesn't matter much, unless you are ill or over-tired!)
Fortunately, nearly everyone feels thirsty in warm dry conditions, so the situation rights itself quickly. But if you're stuck in a desert, hot and dry, you need your water and, tempting though it may be to drink it ice-cold, your stomach would probably prefer it if you sipped slightly warm water.
Other kinds of weather can affect your digestion too, but less obviously, or more indirectly. For instance:
Seeking help from acupuncturists people don't all just say Why does my stomach hurt?!
People visit us for a variety of problems. If we can diagnose which syndromes they have, we may be able to help.
Many conditions can be explained by Chinese medicine. Have a look round this site! But if you're not sure where to start, why not throw yourself in the deep end and try acupuncture-theory?
If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site (and of the books described below) works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist.
If you live elsewhere, click on BAcC.
Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index.
Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:
Still only one comment, though personally I think this is my best book so far.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine!
No comments yet: just published. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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