Stomach Yin Deficiency: poor appetite and fullness

People take medication for stomach problems when often they need treatment for Stomach Yin Deficiency. The drugs just confuse matters!
Nachos, sometimes a possible cause of Stomach Qi deficiency.

Stomach Yin Deficiency is frequently mistaken for a kind of stomach ulcer, for which people take medication they may not actually need.


Stomach Yin Deficiency Symptoms

  • Poor appetite, no desire to eat, or very mild hunger
  • Fullness after eating
  • Dry stools and constipation
  • Pain in the epigastrium: either dull or mild & burning
  • Mouth and throat dryness, worse later in the day
  • Desire to sip only small quantities of fluid, or sometimes prefers warm fluids in small amounts
  • A sensation of warmth in the afternoon (this comes from Yin deficiency in general, not just from Stomach yin deficiency)
  • Tongue: centre is peeled or without coating, or with rootless coating
  • Pulse: in the right-hand middle position the pulse quality is ‘floating-empty’

Causes of Stomach Yin Deficiency

  • Poor nutrition. 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 a third world 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.
  • Poor diet. 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‘. 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!
  • Poor eating habits such as eating when tired, or missing meals, or eating in a hurry or eating too late at night or thinking about work when you’re eating. These are all factors in modern Western life. We’re always in a hurry so we snatch food as and when we can, we eat it while driving or working at the computer or on the bus. On any one occasion this doesn’t matter, but there is a long-term depleting effect when this is repeated again and again.

Those aren’t the only reasons for Stomach Yin Deficiency!

  • Returning to work immediately after eating, or eating while working. 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.
  • Prolonged Worrying. 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.
  • Constitutional: 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.
  • Medication. An early action by Chinese doctors was to look at the energetic action – energetic in terms of the action of the substance in Chinese medicine – of drugs. Antibiotics, for example, are nearly always COLD in action, depleting Yang. But long-term depletion of Yang will eventually weaken Yin too. Some ‘social’ drugs are yang, heating, they ‘speed’ you up.
  • Too much coffee or caffeine!
Too much coffee depletes yin, leading to Stomach Yin deficiency!
Coffee, to keep you going! Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

What’s a little list like that got to do with me, you ask …

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 –

  • I know lots about nutrition so take extra vitamins and minerals to compensate for ANY deficiency
  • I only work late three days a week as a rule so at weekends I take care to relax properly
  • The medication I take is for burning pain, so that’s not a deficiency – right?
  • I have to get back to work after eating, otherwise I don’t get paid, so this nonsense can’t be right
  • Fasting is known to prolong life so regular meals shorten it, right?


Well, if you have symptoms of  Stomach yin deficiency, take note! One or more of these causes applies to you, whether you agree or not!

Yin Deficiency Causes in general

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 kinds of Yin deficiency …

Other organs have Yin deficiency too. You can get symptoms of more than one of them at the same time:


What to do about this deficiency?

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.

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.

So, to reduce Stomach Yin deficiency, what else?

  • Stop eating ‘dry’ foods. 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, 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.
  • But don’t eat Cold foods too much. Eat food 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 that has a heating effect on you. Could be medications, drugs, coffee, caffeine, many stimulants, spices …
  • And start eating more moist dishes, for example Clogstoun-Congee.
Ready to eat clogstoun congee, great for Stomach yin deficiency situations!
Clogstoun Congee going into its bowl!


  • Please read our page on Nutrition, and then, in time, read the books recommended there. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
  • Finally, take more time over food. And relax a bit. Increase your yin level. In time it supplies yang energy for life and confidence. … Yin and Yang.



  • Many kinds of treatment developed in Asia can help yin deficiency.
  • Acupuncture, for example, has hundreds of ways of balancing yin and yang within you.
  • Herbs are not foods, but they help change the way your body works. Both Western and Chinese herbalism have formulae for yin deficiency, though they call it different things.
  • Many forms of massage help to calm and steady your body, and likewise your mind. Having a calm mind certainly helps you to develop a calm body, and with it adequate supplies of yin.
  • Meditation and other mental exercises can also steady the mind and with it, your body.
  • Various physical movements, though not aimed specifically at Stomach yin deficiency, can benefit it. Yoga, Tai Chi, Walking by the Sea …
Tai Chi instead of interval training
Senior Woman doing Tai Chi – copyright Dreamstime

From Stomach Yin Deficiency click here to return to our Home Page.

Or from Stomach Yin Deficiency go to general Yin Deficiency.

Jonathan Brand colours

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