Functional Indigestionaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Digestive Disturbances

Parent symptom: Dyspepsia

What is Functional Indigestion?

Functional indigestion is a prevalent digestive disorder. It manifests through symptoms like upper abdominal discomfort, bloating, and nausea, without an identifiable medical cause.

Unlike specific gastrointestinal diseases, functional indigestion is characterized by chronic or recurrent symptoms, affecting the quality of life. This condition falls under the broader category of dyspepsia, which encompasses various types of indigestion.

How does TCM View Functional Indigestion?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perceives functional indigestion not just as a localized digestive issue, but as a manifestation of disharmony within the body's energy systems. In TCM, the focus is on identifying unique patterns of imbalance – be it in Qi (vital energy), Yin and Yang, or the functioning of internal organs like the Spleen and Stomach.

Treatment is aimed at restoring harmony and balance, rather than just alleviating symptoms. TCM understands that the root causes of functional indigestion differ from person to person, necessitating individualized diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

Causes of Functional Dyspepsia According to TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), functional dyspepsia is often attributed to a pattern known as "Greater Yang Disorder". This condition arises when the body's external defensive layer, associated with the Greater Yang, is weakened, often due to inappropriate purging or external pathogenic factors. This leads to a disruption in the flow of Qi, particularly in the Spleen and Stomach, which are crucial for digestion.

Symptoms may include epigastric discomfort, a feeling of fullness, and difficulty in digesting. TCM sees this disorder as a complex interaction between external pathogens and internal disharmony, particularly affecting the body's Yang energy and the Middle Burner (digestive system).

TCM Herbal Formulas for Functional Indigestion

For addressing functional dyspepsia within the framework of Greater Yang Disorder, TCM recommends specific herbal formulas that harmonize and release the Exterior and warm the Interior, thereby restoring balance. One such formula is Gui Zhi Ren Shen Tang, which includes key ingredients like Cinnamon twigs (Gui Zhi).

This formula is specifically designed to address the disruption caused by cold obstructing the greater yin, resulting in symptoms like hard focal distention in the epigastrium and severe diarrhea. The formula works by warming the Spleen and Stomach yang, harmonizing the qi dynamic in the middle burner, and ultimately relieving the symptoms of functional dyspepsia. By focusing on the root cause – the imbalance in greater yang and the obstruction in the middle burner – TCM seeks to provide a holistic and long-lasting relief from the symptoms of functional dyspepsia.

See more details below about Gui Zhi Ren Shen Tang, a herbal formula used to address functional indigestion.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that release the exterior and warm the interior

TCM Herbs for Functional Indigestion

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address functional indigestion, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Tonic herbs for qi deficiency