Stomach Cold Invasion? Too much Cold food!

Cold foods easily cause Stomach Cold Invasion
Photo by Parizad Shojaei on Unsplash

Stomach Cold Invasion is what happens when you let your body be ‘invaded’ by severe Cold.

North China was a cold place for thousands of years. They suffered from cold. In fact, cold was such a problem that one of their most observant doctors eventually wrote a treatise on how cold invades the body. It’s called the Six Stages of Disease caused by invasion of Cold. 1800 years later we still find his theory very useful!

Symptoms of Stomach Cold Invasion

What are Stomach Cold symptoms?

The kind of pain you get with this occurs in the upper abdomen, in your epigastrium, even a bit under your ribs. It comes on suddenly (seldom gradually).

You ask why your stomach hurts when it’s cold! It’s because you let this vital organ get COLD! And it hasn’t recovered. Anything cold makes it feel worse.

Stomach Cold invasion pain is severe.

It can be cramping or like a heavy weight: often stabbing.

Although caused by cold, some people describe it as burning. You probably stoop forwards and want to hold your abdomen. You’ll want warmth on the area and you’ll prefer a hot drink if you want anything – but you may be too nauseous to face it.

  • Severe pain in the epigastrium – starts suddenly
  • Coldness: you feel this in your body, arms and legs
  • Nausea – often
  • You find yourself vomiting easily: usually what comes up are clear fluids. Vomiting often helps the pain.


Coal Fire
Photo by Olivia Henry on Unsplash

Warmth. You like warmth, on your stomach and in general. This is the ‘frozen stomach’ syndrome!

  • Cold food/liquids make it worse. Click for more on Cold Foods.
  • For instance, you get Stomach pain when drinking cold liquids or …
  • Upper stomach pain after drinking cold water
  • Warm food/liquids and food are what you want, if anything. 
  • You may get stomach cold ache when cold or when running or working out, especially in cold conditions
  • Stomach sensitive to cold air
  • You probably prefer lying with head elevated or even better, you prefer sitting or very gently walking about. You may prefer to have company rather than to be alone.
  • Pulse: is slow (because of the cold, which slows things down); tight (because of the pain and cold); deep (because the problem is slowing down your metabolism deep inside)
  • Tongue: usually has a thick white coating over it, especially if you habitually eat cold food
  • NB these symptoms may seem like the symptoms of ‘Stomach Qi Deficiency‘. However, Stomach deficiency comes into being over time, usually after a poor diet, although it can happen after eating cold food in excess too. Stomach Cold Invasion, as described on this page, can lead on to Stomach Deficiency. So, often with this syndrome you also get:
  • Weakness and prostration


What causes Stomach Cold Invasion?

Watermelon Platter could cause Stomach Cold Invasion
Too much cold food could cause Stomach Cold Invasion!

Basically COLD:

  • Too much Cold food or Cold drink. Here Cold includes chilled and frozen or iced food or drinks.
  • Exposure to Cold, especially around your midriff.
  • This condition becomes more likely if it is a cold or freezing day and you aren’t wearing enough and then you eat/drink cold things.
  • For some people, the food/drink need not itself be very cold or frozen: but they just eat or drink too much of it.
  • Sometimes beer drinkers get this, even though the beer is not chilled.
  • Note: some people have good circulation and strong stomachs and they may scoff at you if you get this syndrome.


A Little Theory

In Chinese medicine, the Cold stops things moving properly. A healthy Stomach should ‘descend’ what you put in it. So when Cold blocks this movement, the contents of your stomach remain there – not a pleasant feeling – or rebel, causing nausea and vomiting.

Because the Cold blocks the action of your Stomach, the energy the food provides doesn’t get to where it is needed, so you feel cold: probably weak and tired too.

You might expect this more in Winter, but it occurs often in Summer, when people get tired or take little exercise and get unfit. Then one day, feeling warm, they sit in a cool draft to cool off, and drink cold drinks.

Not surprisingly, if you have Stomach Cold Invasion, you prefer:

  • Warmth
  • Warmth on your stomach
  • Hot or warm food and liquids
  • – and it is important to cover yourself against cold conditions
Warmth counteracts Stomach Cold Invasion: two persons standing in front of bonfire
Heat ameliorates Stomach Cold symptoms

Why did you get this? Well, as explained, you put too much cold stuff inside you or you were exposed to cold. Also, you were probably already a bit yang deficient, which equates in some ways to having a poor metabolism but goes rather beyond that.

Does this only happen on cold days?

NO! … it does NOT have to be a cold day for you to suffer from Cold Invading the Stomach. Eating too many ice-creams and drinking too much cold beer or coke, even on a hot day, might bring on the symptoms, especially if you tend to be yang deficient.

So, on very hot days, when you are very thirsty, take care not to drink too much iced or chilled fluid. Preferably sip it so that your mouth warms it up a bit before it reaches your stomach. Better still, have a warm tea first – to warm your tubes!

Stomach Cold Treatment

What to do about Stomach Cold Invasion?

  1. Stop eating or drinking cold food/drink
  2. Get warm – cover yourself up, especially your abdomen and low back ie your midriff
  3. A warm bean bag or bottle may help alleviate the pain
  4. Let yourself vomit up what you swallowed: it may help
  5. When ready, make sure you eat or drink only warm things, like tea or a very thin soup. (Better not to take hot coffee unless that’s all that’s available because although it does warm you it also drains your energy. See yang deficiency and coffee.)
  6. Cook food with some ginger root added: ginger warms your digestion.

For several days afterwards, eat or drink only warm, cooked food. Warming soups may be a good idea.

Clogstoun congee for Stomach Cold invasion

My own Clogstoun Congee is a great idea and very gentle for a delicate stomach.

If it’s food, chew it well, and take your time over it! Your Stomach energy has taken a hit, and since you rely on your Stomach for most of your energy, you’ll be feeling a bit low.

Take time to make friends with your Stomach again by doing the right things for it! – Good, warm, food and drink.

See an acupuncturist/Chinese herbalist: they know exactly the right ways to sort this out for you. He/she may use moxibustion on acupuncture needles in acupuncture points on acupuncture channels.

Moxa on needles
Moxa on needles

Stomach Cold Remedies; Stomach Cold Medicine

Your first Stomach Cold medicine is warm food – and avoiding cold food. If you ignore this, probably the following herbs won’t work, or will work only spasmodically.

Click for a selection of hot and warming foods,

Concerning herbs, the following are usually available in shops:

  • Ginger root – gan jiang in Chinese – is an old herb, now recognised on its merits. Add a thin slice to hot water, let it steep awhile, then sip. (Don’t use powdered ginger, which is too heating.)
  • Cloves – ding ziang in Chinese – are traditionally added to warm sweet wine during winter to spice it up. They are acrid and warming. A few go a long way, however.
  • Pepper – this is an acrid, hot herb. Too hot for some people.
  • Angelica root – dang gui – is used more for Blood deficiency, but is also a warming herb, sweet, pungent and a little bitter. Add slices to hot water, steep and sip. It is also a moistening herb, so in excess can lead to loose stools.
  • Cardamom pod: another  spice, that warms stomach and intestines. Particularly good for Damp-Cold conditions such as Spleen Cold Damp. 
warming herbs on white ceramic round plate
Herbs for Stomach Cold Invasion – Photo by Jocelyn Morales
  • Cinnamon bark. The variety used in Chinese herbal prescriptions is much stronger but still, the kitchen variety is warming. You have to boil it to extract the benefit, but as some of the benefit comes from the fragrance, which boils off easily, you may be a bit stuck!
  • Fennel seed. Another herb famous in the Mediterranean and in Indian cookery. Warms and nourishes the Stomach and Intestines. Steep a teaspoon of the seeds in hot water, then sip.
  • Of course, there are other warming herbs, but they are too hot for most people: mustard and horseradish, for example.


What other symptoms might accompany Stomach Cold Invasion?

Although acute, this is not usually a serious condition, unless you already have major circulatory problems of yang deficiency. In that case the sudden extra cold could trigger major Heart Yang deficiency, even Blood stasis in your Heart.

However, Stomach Cold invasion can feed through to other syndromes or make them more likely.

  • It further weakens any pre-existing yang deficiency
  • For example, with pre-existing Kidney yang deficiency, this syndrome could cause back pain when eating cold food
  • Yang deficiency is more likely after an illness, or in very young children/babies who don’t have big reserves, or in older people whose jing-essence is running down
  • It increases the likelihood of Stomach qi deficiency
  • Increases the likelihood of a syndrome called Stomach Cold and Deficient
  • It makes Cold in the Large Intestine more likely, with loose stools, lots of abdominal noise (=borborygmi), feeling of coldness and frequent pale urine
  • It may cause Food Retention
  • The area of your upper abdomen, your Stomach, may be cold to touch


Other Stomach Syndromes

Here are various Stomach syndromes (which can also combine with other syndromes):

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