Stomachache (Epigastric Pain)

Epigastric pain includes pain occurring under the xiphoid and between the costal arches. According to TCM, epigastric pain is mostly classified as a disorder of Stomach, which also includes the pain in the heart region, therefore, it was also called ‘true Heart pain’ in TCM literature.

The Stomach is one of the Fu organs. Since, according to TCM theory, it receives and ripens the food, it should be full of Qi and Blood to perform this function, so it is regarded as a Yang organ and an important source of Qi and Blood generation in the body. The Stomach and Spleen have an External–Internal relationship; the Stomach-Qi descends and transports the ripe food to the Spleen, and the Spleen accepts the food from the Stomach, transforming it into Nutritive Essence, Qi and Blood. By means of the ascending function from the Spleen-Qi, the Nutritive Essence is transported to the whole body to support the physiological functions of different organs. Because the function of Spleen and Stomach determines the health of a person, they are called the ‘foundation of life after birth’.

In pathological conditions, because the Stomach is the first stop of food and drinks in the body and it opens to the external environment, it could be easily Influenced and injured by External pathogenic factors and unhealthy diets and drink. Moreover, due to extreme close physiological relations between the Stomach with other organs, the Stomach could also be easily influenced by the Liver and Heart. Emotional states, such as stress, upset, anger, and over worries, etc., can cause stagnation of the Qi in the Liver and Stomach, resulting in pain. In order to fulfil its physiological functions, the Stomach has Stomach-Yin and Stomach-Yang. Any factor that disturbs and damage the balance of Yin and Yang of the Stomach could lead to epigastric pain.

Epigastric pain in TCM could be caused by invasion of External factors such as Cold, Damp and Heat, and Internal factors include weakness of the Internal organs (such as Weakness in the Spleen and Stomach) , mental disorders and stress. Other causative factors include bad diet and eating habits, and trauma.

Epigastric pain may be attributed to any of the following diseases in Western medicine: acute or chronic gastritis, gastrospasm, gastrointestinal dyspepsia, gastroneurosis, hyperchlorhydria, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, hepatitis and carcinoma of the stomach.

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