Stomach Yin Deficiency is frequently mistaken for a kind of stomach ulcer, for which people take medication they may not actually need.
By the way! … You don’t need all these symptoms to qualify for having Stomach Yin deficiency!
Nutrition is a big subject. What suits one person may not suit another.
Our background and culture influences what we eat and in some countries a deficiency in an important nutrient may be made up another way.
For example, Vitamin D may be low in the diet of people in an equatorial country but because they get so much sun, their bodies manufacture it through the skin. If they go to live in a country without much sun – but continue to eat with their culturally inherited food patterns – they’ll get Vitamin D deficiency. Read our page on Nutrition for more on this.
Diet is different from nutrition, although they’re connected.
By diet we mean the foods you eat, which for health need to be balanced in both quality, quantity and ‘energy‘.
What does ‘energy‘ mean? Well, for example, some foods are very heating, others very cooling. Too many heating foods (such as fried or roasted with lots of fat in them – think crisps and battered fish for example) will eventually deplete the Stomach’s Yin reserves. Food should be our first medicine – a fact recognised in Chinese medicine 2000 years ago!
These are all factors in modern Western life. We’re always in a hurry so we seize food as and when we can, we eat it while running or working at the computer or on the bus.
On any one occasion this doesn’t matter, so doing this only rarely doesn’t matter.
But there is a long-term depleting effect when you do it again and again, or habitually.
This matters because our bodies work with energy – Qi. We use Qi to do things. If you’re working – using Qi for that – there’s less Qi to digest food, and the thoughts and actions you have when working may themselves disrupt the smooth action of Stomach Qi, leading both to Qi Stagnation and to Yin deficiency, mentioned above.
Worry, over time, eventually weakens both Stomach Qi and Spleen Qi. With less Stomach Qi, your Stomach has to call on its reserves, eventually leading to a Stomach Yin ‘shortage’ ie deficiency.
Some people are born with weak constitutions and begin to get Stomach Yin weakness very early in life.
High fever can deplete fluids in the body, including Stomach Yin reserves. Normally a period of rest soon restores these reserves, but not always.
Soon after Western medicine arrived in China, Chinese doctors began to look at the energetic action – energetic in terms of their action in Chinese medicine – of drugs used in Western medicine.
Antibiotics, for example, are nearly always COLD in action, depleting Yang. (We’ve got a page explaining how antibiotics work in terms of Chinese medicine, what their long-term effects often are and what you can do about it.)
Long-term depletion of Yang will eventually weaken Yin too.
For more about this, click on Coffee!
This is a bigger problem than you may think.
Digestion is one of your body’s most energy intensive processes. Chewing hugely increases its efficiency, meaning there’s more energy for you to enjoy.
Chewing breaks food into smaller lumps, exposing more surface area for your Stomach acids to work on.
Chewing well means your stomach works more efficiently, so is less likely to become exhausted, and yin deficient. The result? You have more energy, more reserves!
Your mouth is where food first meets your body. As you chew, glands in your mouth release saliva, which starts the digestive process making it easier for your stomach and intestines.
The sensory nerves in your mouth tell your stomach what to expect, so the longer you keep chewing the more prepared your stomach becomes.
Smaller morsels become mush more easily than larger lumps and that mush is more easily digested through the walls of your intestines into the nutrients your body needs.
This depends on the food. How easily does chewing turn it into mush?
Of course, you read that little list of Stomach Yin deficiency causes and thought, blah-blah-blah, I’ve heard it all before and it doesn’t apply to me because –
If you have symptoms of Stomach yin deficiency, take note! One or more of the above causes applies to you, whether you agree or not!
But that’s not all. Read about the more general or common causes of Yin deficiency here. They, too, may contribute to Stomach Yin deficiency.
Other organs have Yin deficiency too. You can get symptoms of more than one of them at the same time:
Even the right foods, eaten right and in the right circumstances won’t cure Stomach Yin deficiency overnight.
But persistence pays off and eventually your energy will recover and you’ll feel much better, better at fending off bugs and more in control of life.
Not all the following suggestions apply to everyone – of course! – but some will help you.
Let’s get out of the way probably the most important one! Unfortunately, it’s the one most of us won’t easily accept, and even if we accept it, won’t find it easy to adopt. But please don’t ignore it!
It’s the one about working when eating. By working I mean doing something at the same time as eating. It could be reading, driving, exercising, hurrying, writing, typing ..! Also, re-starting work immediately after eating.
Have a think. What could you be doing that takes energy from the process of eating and digesting. Consider – your body is made up of what you have eaten, good or bad. If you don’t allow it to digest properly, it’s almost the same as putting bad food into it.
However, for most people, eating in agreeable company is beneficial to digestion.
There’s a reason for this. If you’re familiar with the Five Phase or Five Element theory, the Pericardium is the ‘mother’ of the Spleen. Good company allows the Pericardium to function better, which helps it ‘nurture’ better its child the Spleen which, together with your Stomach, digests your food.
Dry food needs moisture to mix with Stomach fluids. That moisture comes from Stomach Yin. That leads to Stomach Yin deficiency – YOU!
What are dry foods? Examples are toast, pastry, pizza, dry, almost gritty porridge … I don’t know what’s in YOUR typical list of temptations, but those are in mine! Then you smother the toast in butter to ‘moisten’ it. But butter, though as excellent food in many ways (of course, you understand it must be organic from grass-fed cows, with bells round their necks from heavenly pastures in the high mountains, hand-milked by beautiful young maidens with exquisite fair complexions … sorry, got carried away…) is heating.
Too many hot foods, see next below, dry out Stomach Yin.
Hot foods are those that have a heating effect in most people. Read more at Heating Foods. Heat warms, right? If you keep heating something, its liquids evaporate, right? That dries. Drying uses up yin resources, like Stomach Yin.
But don’t eat Cold foods too much.
Eat food when it’s warm. If you eat cold foods, or foods that have a cooling effect, you use up your body’s warmth because your Stomach needs a warm environment to digest its contents.
And cut down on anything else that has a heating effect on you. Could be medications, drugs, coffee (did you click on that link to coffee? Please do!), caffeine, many stimulants, spices …
Start eating more moist dishes, for example Clogstoun-Congee.
Please read our page on Nutrition, and then, in time, read the books recommended there. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Start eating more fermented foods but before you take too many of them, please realise they have a cold energy.
So eat them with other foods that are cooked and warm when you eat them.
Finally, take more time over food. And relax a bit. Increase your yin level. In time it supplies yang energy for life and relaxed confidence. … Yin and Yang.
Besides the list of suggestions above, with things YOU can do to help yourself …
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Or from Stomach Yin Deficiency go to general Yin Deficiency.
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Thank you again for this very helpful article. If I eat dry food but drink (e.g. water) during my meal, does it have the same effect than eating moist food? If it’s not the same thing, may you please explain me why it is different?
Here is what I understand, trying to use Western Medicine terms.
Moist food is already hydrated, by definition. So it is soft and as it squelches around in your intestines, releases nutrients into blood via portal vein along with the moisture: easy for your metabolism to regulate.
Water drunk alone may or may not be what your body needs at that moment and so may be absorbed or not, but if absorbed and in excess may be shunted directly to your kidneys and bladder. Less easy to regulate.
Water swallowed with a meal: depends, but taking the idea to the extreme, if you swallow dehydrated powdered protein, for example, plus water, I think your body would find it harder to manage than if you soaked the powder in water beforehand for a while, then either cooked or swallowed it. Dried seaweed, for example, needs to be hydrated properly before cooking it.
Many foods we eat are dry eg pizza, bread, toast. Preparing and cooking them dries them out so although we may eat lots of them, our bodies don’t receive the moisture needed to regulate fluid levels.
Drinking lots of water, from the perspective now of Chinese medicine, may tax Kidney yang, even if drunk warm. Also, it cools Stomach Yang.
Of course, the fitter you are, the less quickly you’ll notice problems which originate from often eating dry food, or drinking too much water. But like everything else, it’s not the last straw that breaks the camel’s back, it’s all the straws that came before: the last straw is the one that triggers the problem.
I laughed reading the causes of ST yin deficiency
*eating while working
*working while eating
isnt it the same thing ? 😀
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