TCM & Acupuncture for Indigestion



Indigestion includes a variety of different symptoms such as vague discomfort in your stomach area, acid reflux, mild nausea, bloating in your abdomen, alongside belching and flatulence.

Causes of indigestion

Overeating is a common cause of indigestion as it overloads your digestive system. Western diets typically include lots of processed food, rich deep-fried food, sweet food, icy cold food and alcohol, which all contribute to indigestion. In TCM, we often diagnose indigestion as “Food Stagnation”, “Heat Accumulation” or “Damp-Heat”.

Eating at irregular times or eating when stressed can also trigger issues in your digestive system. Some medications, e.g., antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, can also contribute to indigestion. In TCM, we see how antibiotics weaken the Spleen and create Dampness. Anti-inflammatory medications frequently damage the stomach lining, creating further digestive problems.

Emotional triggers are also main factors causing indigestion. Stress, frustration, repressing your emotions and anger can all lead to “Qi Stagnation”, preventing your Qi from flowing freely, inhibiting the normal function of the digestive organs.

TCM Treatment

Chinese Herbal medicine is a great treatment for indigestion and there are many prescriptions we can choose from to treat your indigestion. Each prescription can be modified to address your specific indigestion symptoms. Acupuncture can help restore your normal digestive function alongside reducing your stress levels. 

Commonly seen TCM patterns, causing indigestion include:

Food stagnation

Overeating or eating food which is difficult to digest blocks our normal Qi dynamic; undigested food remains in the stomach and intestines for too long, blocking your digestion’s Qi dynamic mechanism. If you eat too big a meal, you could trigger a one off “Food Stagnation” problem. However, if you are someone who habitually over eats, you may end up with a low level ongoing dysfunctional digestive system, causing indigestion. Your chronic indigestion may also become complicated with additional “Heat” or “Dampness”. Typical symptoms include indigestion with bloating and discomfort in the upper abdomen/epigastric area. Your indigestion may feel easier after belching or passing gas. Your discomfort will feel worse if you wear tight clothing as pressure aggravates your symptoms. If “Heat” is part of your diagnosis, you may suffer with bad breath, acid reflux and heartburn too. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation or irregular bowel movements are also common.

Self-treatment Although Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can help, for sustained long-term benefits, your best approach is to regulate your diet to avoid triggering this type of food stagnation indigestion.

Liver Qi invading Stomach 

Constrained Qi invades your Stomach and disrupts your Qi dynamic. We see this a lot in clinic. Food Stagnation, Heat, or an underlying deficiency in your Spleen, can all further complicate the picture, with each of these conditions affecting the other.

Typical symptoms include recurrent indigestion clearly related to your emotional state and stress levels, feeling a knot in your stomach when you feel upset, moodiness and irritability. You may also suffer with belching, flatulence, acid reflux, heartburn and lose your appetite. Your indigestion may also feel worse in the morning. With herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment, we harmonise your Liver and Stomach, regulating Qi movement alongside strengthening both your Spleen and Stomach.

Heat, Damp and Cold intermingling in the Middle.

Heat, Damp and Cold in your digestive organs will disrupt your normal digestive Qi dynamic, blocking Qi movement through your Stomach and Spleen. The causes of this situation can be a mixture of different things including poor diet, eating when you are stressed or just plain eating on the go. 

Treatment is aimed at harmonising the Stomach and intestines and directing the movement to Qi downwards to restore your Qi dynamic. We may also include treatments to clear Dampness and Heat and strengthen Qi. 

Spleen Yang Qi deficiency

Chronic indigestion is commonly diagnosed as “Spleen Yang deficiency”. Typical symptoms include loss of appetite, feeling full easily, loss of sense of taste and bloating in your abdomen which gets worse after you eat. You may also have typical signs of Qi deficiency such as breathlessness and loose stools. If cold is involved, you may notice undigested food in your stools and have a dull abdominal pain. With Chinese medicine and acupuncture, we focus on strengthening and warming the spleen, regulating your Qi and harmonising your Stomach.

At the Jade Centre we see many patients each year to help them to manage their health. Contact us now and book an appointment to get the support you need,

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