Chinese medicine concepts can often seem esoteric. But when it comes to where we get our energy from, there are only two sources, both of which are very down to earth: air and food.
In the west, it seems like only a blink of an eye ago that a significant percentage of the population became aware of the connection between diet and overall health. However, for at least 2,000 years, Chinese medicine has placed a heavy emphasis on this relationship.
Of course, not everybody eats a wholesome, nutrient-dense plant-based diet all the time. In addition to the prevalence of fast- and heavily-processed food, chronic stress also plays a significant contributing factor in digestive disharmony.
Needless to say, what you eat and drink matter a great deal in the functioning of your digestive system. However, even for many people who eat what would be considered a healthy diet, bloating, abdominal distention, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, or belching are common after eating.
Let’s take a look at some common digestive problems and review their underlying causes and see how TCM may alleviate the problems…
Root Causes of Poor Digestion in Chinese Medicine
In TCM theory, the Spleen (which is not the same as the Western anatomical spleen) plays a critical role in digestive function. After a healthy, balanced individual has a meal, the Spleen regulates the absorption of the nutrients.
The nutrients then transform into Yin and Yang, and Qi energy. Qi is the central force behind the production of Blood in the body. Thus, a balanced Spleen is essential for all of your bodily functions. If you take care of your Spleen, your Spleen may provide you with excellent health and vitality.
If you take care of your Spleen, your Spleen may provide you with excellent health and vitality.
It’s for this reason that virtually all traditional Chinese medicines for digestion are formulated to strengthen Spleen function.
In the West, the organ that’s most often associated with digestion is the stomach. In TCM theory, the Stomach system likewise plays a key role in digestive function. Before the Spleen can even transform nutrients into various energies, the Stomach has to break down food—not too quickly and not too prolonged, but just in the right amount of time.
However, if the body already has an imbalance of Yin and Yang energies, the Stomach may not be able to efficiently break down food and pass the digested food onwards to the intestines.
Over time, a poorly-functioning Stomach and an accumulation of undigested food particles can lead to excess heat in the digestive system. This can cause “rebellious Qi,” which is when the energy flow is going in the opposite direction of where it should be going. The direction of the Qi flow from the stomach should naturally be downward, towards the small intestine. But after a heavy meal (or an emotional disturbance), rebellious Qi sends energy upwards, towards the esophagus.
Cold Deficiency And Heat Excess
What type of person do you identify with?
Person A is thin, has a pale complexion, hardly ever has a hearty appetite, likes to eat salads and raw vegetables, tends to be on the anxious side, and suffers occasionally from constipation.
Person B has a very strong constitution and has an iron stomach. Rarely, if ever does this person have problems with elimination. However, because this person loves to eat big portions, especially of spicy foods and heavy meats, he or she can have foul-smelling stool and a long list of other indigestion symptoms. Person B tends to have more of a ruddy complexion and is larger-framed.
If you can identify with one of these two common archetypes, here’s what you can do. If you’re a person A, “Cold-Deficient” type, eat smaller, more regular meals. Eat less salad and raw vegetables and instead eat more warming foods such as organic meats and cooked healthy grains. Use warming spices such as ginger.
The person B archetype has Heat excess, which produces dampness. Therefore, he or she should be careful not to overeat. People with heat excess should avoid spicy foods, eat less meat and other heavy, fatty foods, and lean more towards a vegetarian diet, and engage in daily physical activity.
TCM Herbal Remedies For Poor Digestion
If you have chronic bloating or abdominal distension, one of our most popular formulas is BloatEase, which corrects digestive imbalances by promoting the flow of Qi to the digestive organs.
Bloating is an indication that food and fluids are stagnant in the main digestive organs. Consequently, the rest of your organs don’t receive smooth-flowing Qi. BloatEase helps resolve the stuck food and fluids that are trapped in the digestive system.
Want Stronger Digestion?
Does food have a tendency to stagnate in your tummy? Do you wish your digestion was stronger? EZDigest contains herbs that fall into 3 different categories of action for improving digestive function: herbs that eliminate undigested food particles, herbs that remove phlegm and herbs that clear heat. This holistic formula gets to the root cause of poor digestion!
Having Trouble With Being Regular?
Excess heat in the digestive system dries up your intestinal fluids. Consequently, with insufficient hydration in the intestines, constipation or dry, pebble-like stools can result.
Our formula Constipass may help alleviate this problem. The formula is also beneficial if you also have other classic signs of heat excess, including heat sensation in the body, red face, red tongue, dry mouth with bad breath, and dark urine.
On the other hand, when there’s too much dampness in the intestines loose stools is the result. A popular herbal remedy that’s been used for centuries in China for dampness-related imbalances is DigestVive.
Low Appetite But Feels Like You Have A Stuffed Belly?
StomachVigor is one of the most famous TCM remedies for digestive health. The formula warms the area of your body called the “Middle Burner,” which is where your digestive organs reside. StomachVigor reinvigorates the appetite (appropriate for the Person A, Cold-Deficient type).
Strengthen Overall Digestion
There are several reasons why weak digestion occurs, in addition to poor dietary choices. Chronic stress and possessing a weak genetic inheritance are also primary culprits. But no matter what the reason, just remember that healthy Spleen function is critical for avoiding digestive upsets.
Our best formula for strengthening the function of the Spleen is SpleenVigor.
For more information on our digestion formulas you can read more here.