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From the start, Chinese medicine recognised the unique importance of the Stomach energy organ. Although it is a ”fu organ” and Yang in nature, it actually has many Yin qualities:
This page is at times a bit technical! The first part has to do with yin and yang, which are really important concepts in Chinese medicine.
Most energy organs and channels are fairly definitely one or the other.
Not so the Stomach.
You can see that they each have both Yin and Yang qualities, needed to nourish and maintain your body and health.
They are so closely connected that they can almost be considered as one organ energy, looked at from two points of view.
On another page you’ll find more about this, but to continue the question about how Yin or Yang the Stomach is, there’s another anomaly. The front of the body is considered to be Yin, the back Yang.
Why? I hear you ask! Why is the front Yin and the Back Yang?
Yang provides movement, speed, fast change, and defence. If someone attacks you, would you open your arms and let them punch you in the stomach? Probably not, if you have any sense.
I would expect you either to protect your abdomen by covering it with your arms (arms being very movable, so more Yang than your abdomen), to turn your back or to curl up into a ball. At least, that’s what I’d do.
Better still, you might try to run away, which is another way of turning your back on your assailant.
So the soft abdomen with all its vital life processes is considered comparatively Yin, whereas your back and sides – and arms, which are harder and more easily movable, are Yang.
The Stomach’s primary channel pathway runs up the front of the body, its Yin aspect.
All the other Yang channels (for example the Gall-bladder and Bladder channels) run up the side of the body or its back.
The Stomach channel runs parallel and lateral to the Kidney channel on the front, parallel to the mid-line: yin.
On your back, the Bladder channel has two lines which run parallel with the Spine: yang.
In some ways the Kidney and Stomach channels on the front are there to balance them. If they don’t balance, as between front and back, you’ll tend either to
Example? When you’ve eaten a huge meal of highly spiced food you’ll probably stretch out or backwards because your front is too full. (And once you’ve vomited it all out, because the front will now be empty, you’ll tend to curl up to protect it!)
If the first, Blood deficiency or Stomach Qi deficient ie Yin deficient, he’ll tend to cross his arms or hug his belly. Holding, pressing or hugging an area show it’s deficient.
If Yang deficient he will tend not to stand up straight or look you in the eye.
Of course, in some cultures people are taught not to look you in the eye when talking to you. That’s different.
Nowadays you can also buy shoulder straps and back braces to help you stand straight, but wouldn’t it be better to have strong yang energy of your own so you stand straight naturally? Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help you!
How? To strengthen yin, you need to strengthen yang, and vice versa.
So to help someone stand straight naturally ie without back braces, yang treatment would be given to strengthen Stomach function.
With better choices of food and a better digestion (yin matters), the individual would automatically stand better, though he might also need advice (advice and ideas are comparatively yang) and to do some exercises (exercising is more yang as compared with sitting).
So, feed properly and you get the energy to stand straight.
Alternatively, with the right advice you may be inspired to eat properly and then exercise to help yourself.
Although obvious in retrospect, it has taken us a while to realise the unique importance of the Stomach in creating and maintaining health.
As mentioned elsewhere on this page, your Stomach and Spleen energies work so closely together that you can often think of them as a single ‘organ’. From the moment you’re born, after that initial breath that shows you’re flying solo, you need food = nourishment. Without it you’ll soon be gone.
How do you get nourishment? By eating and drinking. Where does food go first on its way in? Mouth and Stomach, both of which ‘come under’ the Stomach.
If your Stomach and Spleen turn it into healthy, usable Qi, prognosis is good. This healthy, usable Qi is is called Stomach Qi, or Stomach Chi, for short.
If your Stomach Qi is good, then almost always, you have a good chance of recovering from any illness. If not, well … not.
That’s because your Yin organs, (technically these – your Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs and Kidneys – are your zang organs) depend on Stomach Qi.
Theoretically you can do without your Yang organs (these – your Gallbladder, Small and Large Intestines, Stomach and Bladder – are your fu organs), any one of which can be surgically removed and you’ll live if your surgeon knows what he’s doing.
But you can’t do without your zang organs (although even here, modern medicine has shown that you can just about live without your spleen organ and dialysis shows you can function at a lesser level without effective kidneys.)
Without good Stomach Qi, your life will be less healthy: you’ll be more prone to tiredness and depression, you’ll take longer to recover from illness and you’ll be more susceptible to illness.
There are various ways to judge your Stomach Qi.
When your Stomach functions well, other things being equal you will obtain enough good food and you will eat it sensibly, so you’ll have plenty of energy, you’ll sleep well and be equable in temperament.
You’ll also have good powers of concentration, and a reliable memory.
Some of these attributes come about from having enough good-quality Blood, manufactured by the Stomach and Spleen.
If your Stomach doesn’t perform adequately then you get various problems:
You could say that the whole business of
The Stomach doesn’t like to be rushed! Chew food well, and eat it leisurely. Think, if you like, of a large and placid cow in your stomach, munching slowly through what you give it.
It’s a huge powerful beast and if you feed it the way it wants, it will give you all the power and energy you need!
Technically, it ‘receives, rottens and ripens’ what you eat, then transports the essence of what you’ve eaten on to the next stage, the Spleen function.
This process of rottening and ripening takes time. That means :
Good company nearly always enhances digestion.
(Technical note: there is a reason for this in the Five Element theory part of Chinese medicine. Good company enhances the action of your Fire element, which is the Mother element to Earth, the Stomach’s element.)
Eating in relaxed Company usually relaxes us and lengthens the time we take to eat. That suits the big cow down inside!
We live in an acquisitive age. We are urged to own more possessions, to try new holidays, to taste new foods, to enjoy more adventures, to boast more ‘friends’.
In many ways these ‘exercise’ our Stomach function. When you have had too much of something, you either get overwhelmed or you get sick of it.
If you have too many possessions or money, you may not know what to do with them, or it. You will lose interest in ordinary life, and you’ll demand ever more exotic tastes to satisfy you.
This is not healthy! The cow down inside you gets fat and flabby, constipated, fussy and burpy. Ever more demanding, she becomes increasingly unhappy. You begin to get both physical and mental symptoms of food retention.
Despite no lack of resources, some people just can’t stop acquiring things, whether by purchase, gift, loan or theft. Here they have what amounts to Stomach Fire, always needing something to burn through. This can lead to hyper states, including mania.
Mania can then burn you up, leading to hypo-states and depression.
Exercise control over what you eat, and stop before you’re full! It’s old, good, advice.
This is more important than you may think. Obviously if Stomach Qi lets things rise, you become nauseous and burp: eructations.
This descending function turns up in lots of ways.
All fluids in the body come from what we eat or drink. Food should not be too dry. If there are not enough fluids in the food you eat, (as opposed to fluids drunk with what you eat, see below) your Stomach and Spleen may not be able to moisturise your tissues, causing a dry mouth, thirstiness, and a dry or even cracked tongue. Your Stomach likes warm, damp foods, such as stews, soups and Clogstoun Congee.
Nowadays we eat lots of dry foods, such as toasted slices of bread, pizza, biscuits and cakes: adding tomato paste to the surface of a pizza does not make it into what your Stomach likes! To digest these ‘dry’ foods your Stomach must supply the fluids, which tends to make many of us slightly Stomach Yin deficient. Read that linked page for more, but often this means we get a dull epigastric pain, lose our appetite and tend towards constipation.
On the other hand, it is not a good idea to drink huge quantities when eating. Too much fluid, especially chilled or iced fluids, in effect douses your Stomach’s Yang energy, needed to digest food.
Some more reasons for Stomach Yin deficiency:
Alternatively, have a look at:
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Heart Yang Deficiency – Cold, Tired, Depleted Spirits. Signs , symptoms,, aetiology and what to do! And if you ignore it, what happens next.