Stomach Blood Stasis
Stomach Blood Stasis, otherwise called 'stasis of Blood in the Stomach' is a serious progression from other Stomach syndromes.
I don't see many people with this syndrome because if they have its symptoms, they see their doctor first before thinking of acupuncture. Their doctor sends them for a range of tests which cause a lot of fear.
If caught early this syndrome need not lead on to serious Western medically defined diseases.
If you are new to Chinese medicine and its ideas, you'll find it very different to Western medicine.
Once you get your head round the concepts you'll see how they are applied and realise that it makes sense.
Of course from the point of Western medicine, it lacks scientific rigour, but on the other hand it's got 3000 years (plus) of experience of some of the most intelligent doctors who ever lived.
Symptoms of Stomach Blood Stasis
- stabbing pain in the stomach/epigastrium: pain is severe
- pain is worse for pressure
- may vomit dark or black blood or what looks like coffee grounds
- pains sometimes worse at night
- stools may contain black clots or traces of blood
- Pulse: described as 'wiry', like a violin string
- Tongue: purple colour
- Other symptoms peculiar to the individual are too many to cover here, but see further down this page
Why do you get these symptoms?
This syndrome doesn't occur suddenly on its own from nowhere. There will have been other syndromes before, whether acknowledged or not. See below for a list of the possible Stomach syndromes.
In general, Blood Stasis (click the link for a bigger discussion on the condition) comes about from three main possible causes, Cold, Heat and Qi Stagnation. Click the links below for more about them:
Cold in the body contracts, squeezes and thickens.
Think what happens to a hot thick soup when refrigerated (not frozen). Stirring it is more of an effort than when warm. It becomes more glue-like, less runny.
Fluids in your body, like Blood, move more sluggishly and have time to coagulate. That coagulation can occur anywhere, as people with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) know to their cost.
Cold in the body over a long period has a similar effect. How do you get Cold? For more on this read the link to Cold but there are two main ways:
- Food that is cold in quality (we'll have a link to this soon) taken for long periods by someone with a cold constitution
- 'Invasion of Cold' or Cold exposure : this could have happened earlier in the life, slowing the constitution down over a period of time. Later invasions of Cold could gradually increase the strength of the Cold syndrome. You might not notice it until many years later, but you will be more susceptible to cold environments and take longer to recover from them than others.
- You see this sometimes in people who have purposefully allowed themselves to get cold - perhaps in aid of self-mastery or physical training. Either they wore too little in cold conditions or they immersed themselves in freezing water regularly. (They obviously didn't know how to take a cold shower!)
- Sometimes it occurs in people who wear too little for fashion reasons or because of sportswear. For instance, teenagers and young women (and men, but I see the effects more often in women) often wear too little in cold weather. They look great but there is a cost. At the time, often because of excitement and alcohol they don't notice the effects at the time or, because of youthful vigour, soon seem to throw them off. Later in life they find their bodies are much more sensitive and susceptible to cold.
- Theoretically, fear can produce symptoms like cold. It makes you go 'rigid with fear' so slowing down your metabolism.
- If Cold is a cause, the individual will probably have poor circulation and tend to be chilly, in contrast to where Heat is a causative factor, see below. Being a chilly person, he'll like warm food and drinks (if he can swallow them, of course) and warm environments. Such people are not usually ebullient.
- Cold can cause Qi Stagnation, see below.
- Read more under Stomach Cold and Deficient and Stomach Cold Invasion.
Heat: think what heat does if continued. It inflames, burns and dries. When you cook something, water evaporates and the food contracts. Left too long to cook, it burns and chars - goes black.
How do you get this in your body?
- Emotions that make you regularly hot. Anger, frustration etc, but see Qi stagnation, below.
- Hot food: hot foods (click the link for what is meant by 'hot foods') taken over many years to warm you up and make you sweat can have a burning and drying effect on your Stomach. Hot foods taken over many years can cause Stomach Blood Stasis.
- Note: alcohol is classified as a hot food, and prolonged heavy use of alcohol can cause a build-up of Heat in the body. In time this can lead to Stomach Blood Stasis.
- So could an acid or poison that caused serious internal burning in your stomach or gastrointestinal tract.
- Hot weather can produce Blood stasis. You see this in elderly people, unable to regulate their metabolisms in hot weather, who die from circulatory conditions. Theoretically this could be contributory, but is not likely to be a direct factor.
- Sunlight that is too intense can burn, as people usually discover the hard way. This affects the skin but in Chinese medicine there is a link between the skin, the Large intestine, Lungs and the Stomach. However, although this connection exists it is hard to prove as a cause of Stomach Blood Stasis.
- Where Heat is a causative factor in Stomach Blood Stasis, it may well affect the Mind as well, causing mental anxiety, excitability, loquacity and a tendency to ramble. However, there are many other possible manifestations of Heat affecting the Mind.
- Another source of Heat is electromagnetic wave radiation, such as used in X rays.
- Read more under Stomach Fire.
Qi Stagnation is a huge cause of many diseases. It is so common and has so many potential effects that I've written a book about it.
- If Qi stagnates in your body for too long, things build up and don't move, including Blood. If Blood doesn't move, it congeals/thickens and if in your stomach you get Stomach Blood Stasis.
- Theoretically the emotion to which your Stomach is most susceptible is anxiety from worry. (Many people have noticed where they feel emotions and certainly many feel emotions in their stomach.) So, theoretically, worrying for many years could produce Stomach Blood stasis, but I've never diagnosed it for sure.
- Read more under Stomach Qi Stagnation.
- Many other syndromes can lead to Stomach Qi Stagnation, including Liver Qi stagnation, Food Retention and Stomach Rebelling. There is a fuller list of Stomach syndromes below.
- Stomach Qi Deficiency can be an underlying syndrome.
What will your acupuncturist do?
With Stomach Blood Stasis do realise that you can't treat it yourself. You might have been able to do something about the syndromes that led up to it, and in many cases you still can - so not all hope is lost! However, be realistic - this needs professional help.
The principle of treatment that your acupuncturist will work on is obvious - a lot of Chinese medicine is 'obvious' once you understand it! That doesn't mean it's easy to do or immediately effective. You will need to see him regularly. One treatment won't do it.
He may also suggest herbal formulae to assist. He may use not just acupuncture and herbs but cupping and possibly guasha, though he won't necessarily use these techniques over your epigastrium.
- Get your Blood moving
- Clear the Blood Stasis in your Stomach - and elsewhere if necessary
- Re-start the descending function of your Stomach
Here are various Stomach syndromes (which can also combine with other syndromes):
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