Qi Level Stomach-Heat


When an invading Heat pathogen penetrates to the Qi level, one of the ways your body responds is with what is called Qi level Stomach-Heat. There are other ways it can respond at this Qi level – see list at the bottom of the page – but most of us have a susceptibility to particular patterns of illness. Here it’s your Stomach that feels the pressure.

To get here, the invading pthogen will have overcome your response at the wei level. Usually this manifests as Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat, but to get here either your wei level response would have been too feeble to counter it, or the pathogen didn’t play by the rules and got here directly possibly because you took or did something (OTC medication, for instance) that weakened or suppressed your wei response so the pathogen passed serenely by and you noticed nothing until this Qi level stomach-heat appeared.

Well, you definitely notice symptoms of this Qi level Stomach-heat!

Symptoms of Qi level Stomach-Heat

The main symptoms are in heavy type:

  • Fever: high. Often worse later in the day from afternoon onwards.
  • Likes cold conditions, food and drink
  • Feel hot (you may find this symptom surprising, but in some kinds of Wei level Wind-Cold you can have a fever, but feel cold and prefer warmth)
  • Thirsty – very
  • Dry mouth
  • Toothache
  • Bleeding gums
  • Perpiration – profuse, and on limbs as well
  • Irascibility – probably! If severe, it can lead to delirious speech.
  • Breathing is heavy and laboured
  • Red face
  • Headache probably on forehead and temples
  • Tongue: red and dry; coating yellow
  • Pulse: rapid and overflowing – bursting out like a river flooding into its surrounding area


If the pathogen also affects your small and large intestines you may get – but see also Qi level Intestines dry-heat:

  • abdominal fullness
  • constipation
  • dry stools
  • dark urine


What causes these symptoms of stomach-heat at the Qi level??

At this Qi level, the pathogen has not yet penetrated to your ying or nutritive level: it’s held up in the organs it first encounters, being your Lungs (Heat in Chest and Diaphragm), Stomach (this page), Intestines, Gallbladder or as Damp-Heat in Stomach and Spleen. These have the means and capacity (assuming you are in good to moderate health) to throw a fever at it.

This is why we have heat, dryness, a yellow tongue coating, and a rapid, overflowing pulse. And your preference for Cold! Your stools, overheated by the Heat (actually the Heat here is more akin to Fire) have dried out and compacted, making them hard to expel and distending your abdomen. This response by your body is definitely much more intense than the typical symptoms of Stomach Heat, unpleasant though they may be!

Why? Well, partly because typical Stomach Heat symptoms arise from personality traits and heat-forming habits, like eating ‘hot foods‘ and smoking tobacco.

Compare that response with this Qi level stomach-heat response where your body has been attacked by a dangerous pathogen, a situation your body regards as life-or-death: much more serious.

Aim of Treatment

  • Clear Stomach Heat
  • Clear and enable Qi to move again and descend smoothly

Acupuncture for Qi level Stomach-Heat

For Qi level Stomach-heat, your acupuncturist might choose points to clear heat from the Stomach like Stomach 45, 44, 43, 42, 36, 34, 25 and 21 and a more general heat-reducing point like Large Intestine 11.

Chinese herbal formulae for Qi level Stomach-heat

There are several formulae for clearing this Heat, or Fire.

The main one is Bai Hu Tang which contains shi gao (gypsum), which Chinese herbal medicines regards as very cold in action.

Other herbs in the formula aim to moisten and restore yin, or to strengthen the action of the Stomach and its fluids and to protect the Stomach from the intensely cold action of shi gao. For more discussion see next paragraph on helping yourself.

What can YOU do to help yourself?

hand seeking help for qi level stomach-heat
DIY for Qi level Stomach-Heat

Well, you’re probably feeling too irritable and impatient to want to delve into this yourself so let’s hope someone persuasive can read it for you then coax you into action!

Regarding Food

If you lo0ok at the herbal formula in detail you can soon find out what to eat and what not to eat.

Cold Foods

It’s OK to eat Cold foods, but Chinese medicine always councils against eating them chilled, cold or iced. Ideally, where possible, cook them and eat them warm. This helps to compensate for the cold nature of the food and – very important – helps to maintain your Stomach’s yang energy.

Yes – I know! You would think that Qi level Stomach-heat would mean that your Stomach has more than enough Heat already. But actually, the Heat here is so extreme that it is classified as Fire, a dangerous pathogen in this situation. Your Stomach needs its yang qualities and energy even when it’s got too much Fire.

Analogy: if you put rocket fuel in your fuel tank, your engine might easily over-heat and over-work, disrupting the engine’s proper steady functioning, but for your car to keep moving it still needs ordinary fuel and oil to keep working. Here, the ‘cold’ food aims to remove the Fire from the rocket fuel.  However, other herbs aim to moisten the piston compartments like oil and to maintain the normal firing at the spark-plugs like ordinary engine fuel.

Other food advice

  • Other pretty cold foods include fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Take them with warmed foods to compensate for their cold quality.
  • What foods might moisten? Mostly these are fruit and salads – and oils.
  • Fruit contains melon, salads containing cucumber and avocado and lettuce. (Avocado is high in oils but has a moderating influence on inflammatory processes in the body.)
  • Also leafy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage.
  • Amongst the best oils for Qi level stomach-heat are from cold-water fish (if you can find such fish free from contamination with heavy metals) and the fish oil capsules made from them; also flax and hemp seeds. (To find out more, read Fats that Heal Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus.) Cook them very lightly, otherwise you’ll destroy the oils you need.
  • The Mediterranean Diet does approximately the right thing.
  • Don’t eat foods classified as having a heating action: see our page on Hot Foods.


Living decisions

Tempted as you may be with qi level stomach-heat to wear little or nothing to keep cool, Chinese medicine would probably caution you that a light sheet might be beneficial, partly to soak up the perspiration and partly to shield you from cold drafts which, with you perspiring away in a cold room, might enter through your open pores and lead to cold invasion, confusing everybody. (It’s not very likely, but it could happen!) Change the sheet regularly, especially when damp.

  • Very robust people might think that to maintain the fever and assist it, they should play squash or something equally vigorous and heating. That might work for someone healthy and vigorous suffering from Wind-Cold invasion at the wei level, but here it would be over the top and indeed might weaken your body’s attempt to dislodge, evict and destroy the invader. So, no squash or tennis – or similar- until you recover!


Sitting in ice-cold water?

  • No! Don’t do it! It might impede your body from maintaining the fever it needs and even allow cold invasion, mentioned above. I grant you that the symptoms of Qi level Stomach-heat are unpleasant, but in someone healthy and robust, they won’t last long because your body will quickly vanquish the invader and return you to health – probably better health than you had before, because in the fever process your body may clear away quite a few other inflammatory processes you didn’t even know you had. (What inflammatory processes, you ask? These could come from old injuries, old coughs or colds you thought you’d recovered from but for which you took NSAIDs to relieve the symptoms, even childhood or teenage illnesses, maybe even asthma that your body never really sorted out. It might even sort out Heat that arose from long term qi stagnation, which you notice as occasional urgent, smelly stools but which reveal mild inflammation in your bowels.)
  • Don’t smoke! See under tobacco. Tobacco is heating in action, which you certainly don’t need more of at the moment!


What happens if you try to suppress Qi level Stomach-Heat?

It’s quite hard to suppress these symptoms in someone in vigorous health but I suppose, given enough anti-inflammatory medication it could be done.

  • The result would be to suppress this ‘Fire’ process to a deeper level, harder to cure. That probably would move the disease process to the next level, the nutritive or ying level.
  • It would also prolong the time it takes to ‘get better’. (Although, since you prevented the disease-process from completing, you would almost certainly retain or increase signs of inflammation which, theory suggests, would eventually re-appear, possibly after some years, in other forms, ranging from arthritis to myeloid degradation, or worse.


Other responses at this Qi level


Jonathan Brand colours

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