The stomach is responsible for receiving and digesting foods and pushing down turbid substances. When stomach energy moves downward, water and grains will also move downward, which contributes to digestion, absorption, and excretion. If stomach energy moves upward instead of downward, it will cause symptoms such as belching, hiccups, nausea, and vomiting.
The stomach likes dampness and dislikes dryness. It is very susceptible to the attack of heat, known as the hot stomach syndrome. When heat attacks the stomach, it will cause harm to stomach fluids and result in symptoms such as dry tongue and mouth, thirst with a craving for drink. To treat the hot stomach syndrome, it is necessary to nourish the yin of the stomach and produce fluids.
The spleen and the stomach form a yin-yang relationship, with the spleen as a yin viscus and the stomach as a yang bowel. The spleen is in charge of elevation, whereas the stomach is in charge of downward movements. The spleen likes dryness, while the stomach likes dampness. They rely on each other to exercise control over each other while performing their respective functions of digestion and absorption.
Energy deficiency of both the spleen and the stomach is a distinct syndrome in Chinese medicine. This syndrome may be seen in ulcers, chronic gastritis, chronic enteritis, chronic dysentery, functional disorders of the stomach and intestine, tuberculosis of the intestine, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver, with symptoms such as poor appetite, belching, swallowing of acid, nausea, vomiting, stomachache with a desire for massage, pain getting better after a meal, fullness of stomach, abdominal swelling with discharge of watery stools, and edema. If the disease becomes chronic, symptoms such as withered and yellowish complexion, fatigue, weakness, loss of weight, light color of the tongue with white coating, fat and tender tongue with tooth marks appearing, and soft and weak pulse may occur. To treat this syndrome, it is necessary to strengthen the spleen and harmonize the stomach.
Deficiency coldness of the spleen and the stomach is another common syndrome, called yang deficiency of both the spleen and the stomach. It may be seen in ulcers, chronic gastritis, chronic enteritis, chronic dysentery, functional disorder of the stomach and intestine, edema, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver, with symptoms such as abdominal pain, love of heat and warmth, full of clear saliva, hiccups, vomiting, poor appetite, abdominal swelling after meals, fatigue, weakness, cold limbs, or scant urine, puffiness, whitish vaginal discharge, light color of the tongue with white-sliding or white-greasy coating, and a deep, fine, weak pulse. In treating this syndrome, it is necessary to warm and tone up both the spleen and the stomach.
Another common syndrome, called stomach-fire, may be seen in high-fever stages of various contagious diseases, diabetes, periodontitis, and mouth ulcers, with symptoms such as thirst with a craving for cold drink, periodic stomachache with burning sensations, red tongue, yellowish and thick coating of the tongue, dry tongue, and big and forceful pulse or sliding and rapid pulse. To treat this syndrome, it is necessary to clear and sedate stomach-fire.
Stomach yin deficiency also occurs and may be seen in chronic gastritis, gastric neurosis, indigestion, and diabetes, with symptoms such as dry lips and mouth, lack of appetite, abdominal swelling after meals, discharge of dry stools, dry vomiting, hiccups, and dry tongue or burning pain in the stomach, red tongue with scant coating, and fine and rapid pulse. To treat this syndrome, it is necessary to nourish the yin of the stomach and clear the heat in the stomach. Herbs that nourish the yin, such as Mai Men Dong (Ophiopogon Tuber) and Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia Root), can be used. In addition, foods that are moistening and cooling, such as pears and watermelon, can be beneficial. It is also important to avoid spicy and greasy foods that can aggravate the condition.