Stomach Qi Rebels: Usually it’s Your Fault!

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Stomach Qi Rebels? You’re in a hurry, you’re cross, no time for a proper meal, so you gulp your food and horrors! Up it all comes again, just as you get to that important interview.

Congratulations, you’ve got ‘Stomach Qi Rebels’!

So, what to do about it?

Well, in the short term, if you can, vomit it up.


Stomach qi rebels easily when you're feeling sick
Nausea and just waiting for it to come up


It’s unpleasant and messy and makes you feel awful for a little while, but once it’s out it’s not inside making you feel terrible.

More advice, further down.

… by the way …

If you’ve arrived here without quite knowing why, this site tries to explain symptoms in terms of Chinese medicine, not Western medicine. You’ll find it’s all very different from what you may expect!

I hope you’ll find this other way of explaining symptoms, why you get them and what you can do about them, interesting and worth trying.

‘Stomach Qi Rebels’ – What’s going on here?

Each of the energy organs in your body (your zang-fu) has different functions and one of those functions is to encourage Qi either to ascend or to descend. When you are healthy, these energy movements up and down balance one another. In case you wonder, this is all part of Chinese medicine’s theory.

Your Stomach’s natural flow direction is downwards. That means that when you swallow something, it goes down and doesn’t come back up.

Also, after working on the food you’ve eaten your Stomach Qi sends it on down to your Spleen, which helps your intestines absorb the food into your blood-stream. That process normally stops your hunger.

When your Stomach is disturbed (and there are various ways it can be disturbed, see the list further down this page) this natural process is perturbed. One main way is from stress, which in Chinese medicine often causes you to suffer from Qi stagnation – so your system backs up!

One possible outcome is this one, that Stomach Qi rebels. That means food wants to come up again, and swallowing is difficult.

Symptoms of ‘Stomach Qi Rebels’

The main symptoms recognised in Chinese medicine are as follows, but further down I’ve added a few more that I’ve seen.

  • Nausea
  • Lack of hunger  = Loss of Appetite
  • Swallowing is difficult, if not impossible
  • Belching, burping
  • Hiccup
  • Desire to vomit, and you easily do vomit
  • Pulse: the Stomach pulse, which is on your right wrist in the middle superficial position, is usually what is called tight or wiry, meaning that it feels like a violin string stretched tight. The other pulses may be unaffected, although this Stomach syndrome seldom arises completely on its own. For instance, it often occurs with Liver Qi stagnation. If so, you would also have a tight pulse in the Liver position, on your left wrist in the middle position, quite deep.


Tongue is usually normal at start when Stomach Qi rebels
Photo by Hayes Potter
  • Tongue: unless this syndrome is ongoing, when there would undoubtedly be other syndromes involved, there may be little change to your tongue.


Why do you get this syndrome ‘Stomach Qi Rebels’?


Usually Stomach Qi rebels because:

  • you were eating in a rush
  • you were cross or tense when eating
  • were you working while eating, possibly to a deadline?
man holding handbag - haste so stomach qi rebels
  • you remained standing or walking as you ate. (If you were walking, you were probably walking fast or anxiously)
  • and – you usually eat this way so it’s a pattern of behaviour that your Stomach qi cannot cope with any longer
  • For example, other Stomach syndromes that often cause this or happen at the same time include Stomach Qi Stagnation, Stomach Fire and Cold invading your Stomach.
  • If this gets bad, it may penetrate further. This means that your body, which normally tries to keep your symptoms as far as possible from your important inner energies, lets the rebellion past its outer guard, so it slips further in. This can lead to Chong Mo rebellion. Nobody wants that, especially if you are thinking about getting pregnant, or are already pregnant.
  • For some, great ongoing anxiety can produce this. Read acupuncture and anxiety.

Additional symptoms I’ve noticed

These additional symptoms for Stomach Qi rebels aren’t officially listed but I’ve noticed them in some people:

  • Feeling cold
  • Perspiration, often on your forehead
  • Anxiety
  • Eructations of acid into your mouth
  • Constipation – but this usually  occurs if you’ve had Stomach Qi rebelling often for a while.
  • Stomach pain
  • Sometimes you can get this syndrome of ‘Stomach Qi Rebels’ if you’ve been fasting and suddenly increase the amount you eat a lot
  • This syndrome seems to affect mainly people who have a sedentary lifestyle, working mostly at desks with hours that are too long and stressful. Often they like spicy food and alcohol. To quell stomach discomfort they are often already taking medication for their stomach. They tend to be rather thin and nervous, often worried about their digestion.
  • During pregnancy, morning sickness may occur if the Chong Mo itself rebels and invades the Stomach. (Sorry, bit technical, but if you read the pages linked it may make sense!)

What can you do about ‘Stomach Qi Rebels’?

In Chinese medicine, the appropriate treatment for Stomach Qi Rebelling is, when using acupuncture for instance, to pacify Stomach Qi and to encourage your Stomach to start descending Qi again. Acupuncture uses points along acupuncture channels.

There are also herbal formulae but you may not be able to swallow them to start with.


Needle Upper Back
Needles in the acupuncture channel system
  • There is a homoeopathic remedy often prescribed for this syndrome, called Nux Vomica. Seek advice before taking it. You’ll need to find out at what potency and what frequency to take it, and when to stop. Don’t treat homoeopathic remedies like pain killers: they work a different way. 
Homeopathic remedy
Photo by
  • Nux Vomica really suits those who, as described above, are probably workaholics or who punish themselves with work. If you’re not like this, that remedy won’t fit or work.

Try Ginger tea when Stomach Qi Rebels


Ginger root tea - a great remedy when Stomach Qi Rebels!
Ginger tea
  • If you can, take a slither of fresh ginger root, and boil it in a mugful of water for a few minutes. Then sip it. Alternatively, pour boiling water over it and let it stand for five minutes. Again, sip it. It probably won’t work immediately for nausea: you must keep it up for a while – possibly for an  hour or so. You can also take it in the form of an essential oil, in which case start with one drop in warm water several times a day. If you only have it in tincture, take 2ml or 50 drops of it warm water, again, several times a day. Caution, please read Stomach Fire first: if you have Stomach Fire, don’t take ginger, or take a much lower dose. This is because ginger is warming and you don’t want to inflame your Stomach Fire. The same applies if you have Heat in your Lungs
  • For some people, mint or peppermint tea works better.
  • As mentioned before up the top, if you can, vomit it up, that may save you some time. Then you need to get some treatment.  And you need to put more order into how you eat. Start off by reading our page on Nutrition.
  • Longer term, try to change the way you live and eat, because this syndrome wouldn’t have occurred unless you already had Stomach qi deficiency.  It won’t otherwise go away.


Quietening your Mind

For nearly everyone, calming the Mind calms the Body. Probably 3000 years before in the West we recognised ‘psychosomatic’ disease, the condition was integrated into Chinese medicine.

Unfortunately, knowing how to calm your mind and/or to meditate is something most of us see no need for – until we need it! But meditation is something to be learned beforehand.


water ripple: meditation to help calm the mind if Stomach Qi Rebels
Photo by Levi XU


Still, if it’s not too late, read our page on it! NB It won’t work unless you practise first: it’s a HABIT to learn and practise regularly. Meditation.

Stress is another way to make your Stomach rebel! In Chinese medicine this is often from Qi Stagnation – worth reading about!

What if  your feel your life is in a loop, that you keep making the same mistakes – what then? Read how the ancient Chinese came to terms with this, via their 5 Elements.

Stomach Syndromes

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


Finally, if you’re hooked and want to study this wonderful system of health, have a look at the following:

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