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  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#67 - Understanding Stomach Qi Stagnation

Transcript of Episode

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:00]:

Hey everyone, Doctor. Rich Lai here with study acupuncture with me. Welcome back to another episode. If this is your first time here, I welcome you to study acupuncture with me. In this channel we review acupuncture board topics for busy acupuncturists and acupuncture students just like yourself. Now this episode is gonna be on a pattern called stomach chi stagnation. Now stomach chi stagnation is one of the full patterns of the stomach, and with TCM organ patterns, to understand fully any pattern really, we need to first understand the general functions of that organ. So today we're talking about the stomach, so let's talk about the organ functions of the stomach first.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:39]:

Now the main function of the stomach is to receive the food, it's also to rot and ripen. So the stomach it receives food and drink, it holds it down in your stomach and so that way the stomach can rot and ripen that food. This rotting and this ripening process it preps the food for your spleen to further break it down into food essences. These food essences we know travel to the entire body and it nourishes the whole body. Now with the stomach, it also plays a role in that transportation too, spleen we know it also plays a role in transportation, so both of these organs they transport food essences to the whole body. Now it transports it especially to the arms and legs, and that's why when there's a deficiency in any of these organs, that's why your patient or you yourself, you may feel that your arms and legs feel weak or at least feel powerless, like they just lack strength. Because there's this lack or this decreased amount of food essences that are being transported to nourish your limbs. So if you look at a pattern like stomach chi deficiency or spleen chi deficiency, you'll see one of the symptoms there is weakness of the arms and legs or weakness of the limbs.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:01:51]:

But the pattern that we're talking about in this episode is a full pattern, and this full pattern is called stomach chi stagnation Now how can you recognize if your patient has stomach chi stagnation? Well, one key symptom of stomach chi stagnation is epigastric distension, and this is a bloated feeling that they have in this epigastric area. This epigastric area is this area above your umbilicus. Now your patient may even be hesitant to touch this area because of that distension. So epigastric distension is this bloated feeling in this area, and it's a key symptom of stomach chi stagnation. Now other symptoms of stomach chi stagnation include burping, nausea, vomiting. Now these symptoms are happening because of the chi stagnation that's in the middle jiao. This will actually cause an issue with the stomach chi because the natural chi direction of the stomach is supposed to be down, and the main function that we talked about in the beginning of this episode with the stomach is to receive food. So if stomach chi is healthy, then this receiving function is gonna be healthy.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:02:55]:

So what does that mean? That means that your patient is gonna be able to swallow food and hold it down. It also means that they're gonna have a good appetite. So this function of receiving is actually tied to appetite. So if your patient doesn't have an appetite, this can be linked to an issue in stomach chi. And that's again because stomach is receiving food. It's supposed to receive food. So in other words, if it isn't receiving food well, that means that they have a poor appetite. And then with stomach chi stagnation in general, what's happening here is that chi stagnation is actually affecting the stomach.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:03:30]:

Stomach chi is supposed to descend. Instead, chi stagnation is causing the stomach chi to ascend or go up. And so that's why you get all of these up type symptoms, like, for example, the burping, the nausea, the vomiting. Some patients even will say that they have been hiccupping more because of the stomach chi going up. Now another manifestation of stomach chi stagnation is also irritability. Now when someone's stomach hurts, their stomach doesn't feel good, they may get a little bit irritable, and this is a sign of stagnation. Usually, though, when we think about irritability, we think the liver's involved, which can be true. We just have to be good clinicians and seek out all of the manifestations in our patient to help rule in or rule out things like the liver.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:13]:

And with stomach chi stagnation, liver chi stagnation can actually be a precursor to stomach chi stagnation. Meaning, if someone is experiencing liver chi stagnation, like they're stressed, they're irritable, they have distending pain in their rib cage, they're sighing a lot, they feel all this stress. And what do we have to do every day? We have to eat. We have to rest. So this stagnation can actually cross over into the stomach during that eating time, during that resting time, and that can cause stomach chi stagnation. And the wonderful thing about acupuncture is that, yes, we can provide treatment in terms of acupuncture and herbs, but we can also provide tips for lifestyle modification. So for example, during our evaluation, we should ask our patient, hey, how are you when you're eating? What is the state of mind that you're in? Are you stressed? Are you sad? Or are you doing work while you're eating? Because when you're eating, if you're rushing through eating, if you're working while you're eating, if you're literally on the go while you're eating or you're fighting with a loved one or you're stressed about work while you're eating, all these things can actually cause an injury to the spleen and stomach, and this ultimately can lead to patterns like stomach chi stagnation. Alright.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:05:27]:

Next, we're gonna talk about the tongue and pulse, but let's first hear a quick word from our sponsor. Hey, study acupuncture with me, They have so many cute TCM designs that you can put on shirts, sweaters, mugs, and more. Use my link in the description and use code s AWM 2024 to get 10% off your order. Alright. And we're back. So now besides the manifestations that we were just talking about that we have to ask for in our patient, we also have to look at our patient's tongue and pulse. And when we look at a patient's tongue, what do we look for? Well, we look for 4 things. We look for the tongue body color.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:15]:

We look for the tongue body shape. We look for the tongue moisture, and also we look at the tongue coat. So with stomach chi stagnation, when it comes to the tongue, there actually isn't much that stands out per se. We know that the organ indicative area of the tongue that's related to the stomach is the center of the tongue. So if stomach chi stagnation is really bad, then you might see some pathological changes in the center of the tongue. Other than that, it is a chi stagnation pattern, so you might see some purplish hues on the tongue body. You might even see it on their face or somewhere on their skin. Now, with the pulse, whenever we take the pulse, we can look at the 3 sections of the pulse as three sections of the body.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:54]:

We know that there's a front section, there's a middle section, and there's a rear section. We can get even more granular. We can look at organs that are assigned to each of those sections. So again, we have front, middle and rear. Now the front, it can actually correspond to the upper jaw, the middle can correspond to the middle jaw, and in the rear, it can correspond to the lower jaw. So if you find an issue in any of these sections, it could be an issue in the upper, middle, or lower jowl. Now with stomach chi stagnation, something will most likely show up in the middle jaw section since the stomach is in the middle jaw. Now what kind of pulse can show up with stomach cheese stagnation? Well, a chi stagnation pulse, we know, is a wiry pulse.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:35]:

So we might see a wiry pulse in the middle section. Now the 3 section, we can get more granular. It can be broken up into organs. Now on the right, we have lung, spleen, kidney. So the lung is the front position, spleen is the middle position, and the kidney is the rear position. So now with stomach chi stagnation, where would we find that chi stagnation pulse or that coiry pulse? We would find it in the middle position. The middle position on the right is the spleen stomach section. On the left side, we have heart in the front and liver in the middle.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:08:06]:

So we might not see a wiry pulse in the middle position unless liver chi stagnation is a precursor leading to that stomach chi stagnation. So again, for the pulse of the stomach chi stagnation, it can present with a wiry pulse in the right middle position. Alright. So that brings us to the end of this episode. Now, I know that I talk a lot and sometimes maybe I talk too much about certain topics, but I hope that it helps you understand the material more when I talk through my thought processes through literally every part of the topic. For me anyway, it just helps me to understand it more when I segment things and then I drill deeply into each of those segments as possible. Now this style of learning is something that I picked up from the way that I plan out my studying. Basically with my studying what I do is I plan out all the big ticket items that I need to study and then I'll delegate those big ticket items into specific times and days of the week.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:00]:

Now once it's scheduled, I commit myself to show up to that date and time, just like it's a doctor's appointment, just like it's showing up for work. And when I show up, I do the work that I am supposed to do during that time. And if you find yourself having a hard time knowing what to do when you sit down at your desk, then I think I have something that can help you. You can actually get a weekly planner for free at my website, which is www dot studyaccu with So you can go to that website and download a free weekly planner that can help you organize your studying and help you accomplish your goals. Alright everyone, until next time. God bless and happy studying.

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