9 Tips to Get Rid of Stomach Pain, Flatulence, and Gastric Acid Reflux


Modern-day living can often be hectic and result in abnormal eating and diet patterns. Coupled with stress from work, outpatient clinics often come across patients who seek treatment for diseases related to the spleen and stomach, such as stomach pain, flatulence, gastric acid reflux, and belching. From a therapeutic point of view, both Chinese and Western medicines can quickly improve stomach issues.

However, many people with spleen and stomach diseases often have their symptoms return after initial recovery. The main reason for the recurrence of symptoms is that many patients do not practice correct living and eating habits, and have difficulty sticking to a healthy diet and habits. Even for a serious stomach problem—persistence in correct living and eating habits to treat the spleen and stomach can effectively cure the condition without using medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Understanding of the Spleen and Stomach

From the perspective of the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth) theory of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the spleen and stomach belong to the earth, which “calls the shots,” transforms all things, and is the foundation of all the necessary componants of the human body. The spleen, in TCM, refers to the digestive and absorption system of the human body—expanding on the concept of it being just an organ in Western medicine. Therefore, what people often say about spleen deficiency actually means poor digestion and absorption.

TCM believes that the spleen has the physiological function of transforming water and food into more subtle substances—absorbing and transporting them to the viscera of the whole body and in turn sustaining the latter’s physiological functions.

In addition, the spleen has also the function of governing and controlling the normal flow of blood in the veins and at the same time avoiding its leakage out of the veins. The stomach accepts and accommodates water and food, then further decomposes them, and through absorption of the resulting subtle substances, transfers them to the spleen to nourish the whole body.

The spleen and stomach each have two contrasting physiological characteristics—main points to pay special attention to when treating diseases and maintaining health. They are, “spleen qi governs the ascendence, and it prefers dryness to dampness,” while “stomach governs smooth down-bearing, and prefers moisture to dryness.” Diseases will occur when these two physiological characteristics of the spleen and stomach become abnormal.

Replenishing the Spleen Qi Can Cure Visceral Drooping

One example is that if the spleen qi is weak and unable to ascend the nutrients, the upper body parts will not be “nourished by the essence” and there is a feeling of dizziness and mental fatigue. The middle part of the body will have stagnant turbidity, resulting in a “belly bulging” feeling and mild pain. The lower body part will suffer from essence and qi moving downward resulting in loose stool and diarrhea.

The lifting function of the spleen qi can also stabilize the position of internal organs and prevent them from drooping. Therefore, many visceral sagging diseases, such as stomach, uterus, bladder sagging, and others, can be restored to their original positions by nourishing the spleen and avoiding the pain of surgery.

Effect on Spleen and Stomach from Early Morning “Empty Stomach” Water Drinking

For some time, it has been widely circulated that drinking a lot of boiled water on an empty stomach in the morning can reduce blood concentration, prevent cerebral thrombosis, promote intestinal peristalsis to eliminate stool, and is good for one’s health. But does it have such a good effect? I once drank about 250 ml (8.5 fl. ounces) of warm water on an empty stomach in the morning for two consecutive weeks.

Since I usually have an easy bowel movement every day, I didn’t feel any difference in this respect. Instead, I had the feeling of flatulence and hiccups all day long, which caused a bit of discomfort. Thus, I simply gave up drinking water on an empty stomach in the morning. As a result, after three days, the symptoms of flatulence and hiccups disappeared.

After this personal experience, I began to survey patients in my clinic and asked those who usually suffer from flatulence and indigestion whether they drink a lot of boiled water in the morning. It turned out, many people in fact have this habit (all drank at least 200-500ml (6.8-17 fl. ounces). Their common answer was that this method is good for health! So, I asked them to go without drinking water on an empty stomach for one week for comparison—and without prescribing any medicine for them. As a result, most of the patients said that their flatulence and hiccups had improved.

Why drinking boiled water on an empty stomach in the morning hurts the spleen and stomach can be explained by looking at the basic physiological characteristics of the spleen from the TCM perspective.

The nature of the spleen qi is it “prefers dryness to dampness.” One of the conditions for the spleen qi to achieve its ascendency function is that it must be dry and not trapped by phlegm and water. If the spleen is deficient, the function of transporting and transforming water will be impaired, and phlegm and water will grow inside the so-called “dampness in the spleen.” The increase in dampness comes back to haunt both the spleen qi and the spleen yang, resulting in its reduction, which in turn, causes the deficiency of the spleen.

When the yang of the spleen has just awakened in the morning, it is like a young-born sun. Drinking a lot of water (or raw and cold vegetable juice) at this time on an empty stomach will destroy the yang of the spleen, resulting in a lack of the yang there, and insufficient qi. A low level of qi can cause flatulence, indigestion, edema, fatigue, dizziness, palpitation, blurred vision, and many other diseases. When the spleen is deficient, the intestinal peristalsis is weak, which causes constipation.

Therefore, according to personal clinical investigations, there are still many people who drink a lot of boiled water on an empty stomach in the morning and do not experience much improvement in constipation—and a small number of them even suffered from constipation. The key factor is whether the yang energy of the spleen is damaged.

The Seven Emotions Causing Internal Damage, Resulting in Gastrointestinal Diseases

In addition to improper diet leading to gastrointestinal diseases, TCM holds that the internal fluctuations of the seven emotions (anger, joy, anxiety, overthinking, grief, fear, and fright) can lead to gastrointestinal diseases. It follows the axioms, “worry and overthinking hurt the spleen,” “liver depression invades the stomach,” “liver qi affects the spleen,” “liver (wood) restrains spleen (soil),” and so on. Therefore, the efficacy of drugs and diets for treating gastrointestinal diseases plays only a small part.

Psychological disorders need to be corrected by the patients themselves to improve their condition. If you are prone to worry, sadness, anger, or tension as part of your personality, and if these psychological factors are not corrected—even if the condition is improved after taking medicine—it is easy to relapse and it is never easy to eradicate. Therefore, “self-cultivation of one’s mind” is far more important to improve gastrointestinal diseases. This we should never ignore.

How to Nourish the Spleen and Stomach

There are a few ways to nourish the spleen and stomach. Here are some suggestions for the readers’ easy reference:

1. Chew thoroughly and swallow slowly. Slow your time spent eating to a minimum of at least 20 minutes. Many people who suffer from flatulence and stomach pain appear to have one common behavior—eating too fast. It is recommended to chew more than 50 times per mouthful when eating so that the saliva in the mouth will be secreted in larger quantities, and the food will be finely ground and sufficiently moistened to aid digestion.

2. Concentrate on chewing while eating. Avoid other activities such as

watching TV, reading, using a mobile phone, talking, and thinking about other things during mealtime, as such distractions can cause indigestion in the spleen, and stomach.

3. Reduce liquids and eat less aqueous food. Drinking a lot of soup or eating too much aqueous food will dilute gastric juice and cause indigestion. If you want to drink soup, it is recommended to drink some before meals.

4. Avoid lying down and sleeping immediately after a meal. Generally, it takes about two hours for the stomach to digest and empty food. It is recommended not to lie down immediately after a meal, and to go to bed at least two to three hours after eating to avoid gastric acid reflux and cause stomach discomfort.

5. Move after eating. Try walking slowly for 10-15 minutes after eating. The stomach governs descending flow, and it prefers flow in the downward direction as being smooth. Sitting after a meal can easily block the stomach qi, whereas walking slowly after a meal can assist the stomach qi to run in its preferred direction and help digestion.

6. Reduce intake of foods that can cause indigestion. Eat less wet noodles, bread, sweets, spicy food, alcohol, and foods that are sour and coarse. “Coarse” food here refers to brown rice, five-grain rice, and other hard-to-digest foods. Although brown rice and five-grain rice have high nutritional value, they are difficult to digest. People with stomach and intestine problems can aggravate their illness by eating such foods, so it is advisable to avoid them.

7. Avoid raw and cold foods, and eat fruit only fruits after meals. Raw vegetables, raw meat, and cold food and beverages can hurt the spleen and stomach yang. Most fruits are cold in nature and are also eaten raw. Eating them on an empty stomach can damage the spleen and stomach yang, so it is advisable to avoid them too.

If you want to eat fruit, it is advisable to do so 30 minutes to one hour after a meal. In addition, the body is full of yang during the day and yin at night so it is recommended to not eat fruit for dinner, so as not to overwhelm the body with cold and dampness, which hinders health.

8. Eat at regular times and in similar quantities. The secretion of gastric juice has physiological regularity. Even if you do not eat either within the regular hours or get too hungry, gastric juice will still be secreted and will damage the stomach wall linings in such situations. Therefore, it is very important to eat at regular times. Also, beware that eating too much will hurt the spleen and stomach and should be avoided.

9. Millet—The sacred food for nourishing the spleen and stomach. Millet is cool in nature, sweet and salty in taste, and has the effect of nourishing the spleen, stomach, and kidneys. When the stomach is either feeling some “noise,” pain, flatulence, or gastroenteritis diarrhea, cooking millet into a thick porridge has curative effects better than any medicine and has no side effects.

Important Notice: This article was originally published at www.theepochtimes.com by Dr. Wu Kuo-Pin where all credits are due.


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