Chronic gastritis according to Chinese Medicine

Chronic gastritis factsheet

In Chinese Medicine, chronic gastritis can be associated with twelve so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here chronic gastritis can be caused by twelve different patterns.

To understand whether someone's chronic gastritis might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from chronic gastritis alone. For instance when chronic gastritis is caused by the pattern Spleen Qi Deficiency, patients also experience symptoms such as pale complexion, weak voice, poor appetite and loose stools. Similarly, patients with Spleen Qi Deficiency typically exhibit soggy (Ru) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

We've listed below a description of the twelve patterns associated with chronic gastritis so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.

Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below thirteen formulas that can help treat the various patterns associated with chronic gastritis, depending on which pattern fits your profile.

The twelve "patterns of disharmony" associated with chronic gastritis

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Spleen Qi Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Soggy (Ru), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Si Jun Zi Tang

Symptoms: Weak voice Loose stools Poor appetite Pale complexion Weakness in the limbs

Chronic gastritis might be due to Spleen Qi Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as pale complexion, weak voice, poor appetite and loose stools. Similarly, patients with Spleen Qi Deficiency typically exhibit soggy (Ru) or weak (Ruo) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Spleen Qi Deficiency here

The Triple Burner is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Triple Burner in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner

Chronic gastritis might be due to Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium and focal distention.

Read more about Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen

Chronic gastritis might be due to Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as chest fullness, chest pain, anemia and dizziness. Similarly, patients with Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen typically exhibit empty (Xu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a pale tongue.

Read more about Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation

Chronic gastritis might be due to Liver Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as flank pain, stifling sensation in the chest causing one to have deep sighs, suppressed emotions and feelings of frustration. Similarly, patients with Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses.

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the key herb for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Damp-Cold Phlegm

Damp-Cold Phlegm

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Er Chen Tang

Symptoms: Nausea Vomiting Dizziness Palpitations Focal distention Coughing with copious white sputum Stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium

Chronic gastritis might be due to Damp-Cold Phlegm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stifling sensation in the chest and epigastrium and palpitations. Similarly, patients with Damp-Cold Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Damp-Cold Phlegm here

The Bladder is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Bladder in Chinese Medicine

Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat

Chronic gastritis might be due to Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, dizziness or vertigo, dream disturbed sleep with strange or unusual dreams and palpitations. Similarly, patients with Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with yellow coating.

Read more about Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat here

Atractylodes Rhizomes (Bai Zhu) is the key herb for Yue Ju Wan, a formula used for Qi Stagnation

Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

Recommended herbal formula: Yue Ju Wan

Symptoms: Belching Vomiting Acid reflux Indigestion Poor appetite Fixed pain in the hypochondria Mild coughing with copious sputum Stifling sensation in the chest and abdomen

Chronic gastritis might be due to Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as stifling sensation in the chest and abdomen, fixed pain in the hypochondria, belching and vomiting. Similarly, patients with Qi Stagnation typically exhibit wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a normal (light red) tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Qi Stagnation here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Tight (Jin)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Pale

Recommended herbal formula: Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Symptoms: Coughing Dizziness Headaches Depression Moving pain Listlessness Hypochondrium fullness

Chronic gastritis might be due to Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as coughing, hypochondrium fullness, dizziness and headaches. Similarly, patients with Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation typically exhibit empty (Xu) or tight (Jin) pulses as well as a normal (light red), pale tongue with thin white coating.

Read more about Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation here

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Recommended herbal formula: Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang

Symptoms: Hiccuping Regurgitation Nausea or vomiting Unremitting belching Hard epigastric focal distention

Chronic gastritis might be due to Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as unremitting belching, hiccuping, regurgitation and nausea or vomiting. Similarly, patients with Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm typically exhibit empty (Xu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm here

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

Recommended herbal formula: Jin Ling Zi San

Symptoms: Hernial pain Irritability Bitter taste in the mouth Intermittent epigastric pain Painful periods that get worse with hot food or drinks

Chronic gastritis might be due to Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as intermittent epigastric pain, hernial pain, painful periods that get worse with hot food or drinks and irritability. Similarly, patients with Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat typically exhibit rapid (Shu) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a red tongue with yellow coating.

Read more about Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat here

Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium

Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Soggy (Ru), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Recommended herbal formula: Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Symptoms: Palpitations Dizziness or vertigo

Chronic gastritis might be due to Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as palpitations and dizziness or vertigo. Similarly, patients with Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium typically exhibit slippery (Hua), soggy (Ru) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thick white coating.

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium here

The Stomach is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Stomach in Chinese Medicine

Stomach Yin Deficiency

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Recommended herbal formula: Yi Wei Tang

Symptoms: Retching Hiccuping

Chronic gastritis might be due to Stomach Yin Deficiency if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as retching and hiccuping.

Read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency here

The thirteen herbal formulas that might help with chronic gastritis

Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach. Clears Phlegm and mucus. Promotes appetite.

Why might Liu Jun Zi Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Spleen Qi Deficiency and Phlegm-Dampness in the Middle-Burner which are sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Liu Jun Zi Tang here

Si Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Qi. Strengthens the Spleen and Stomach.

Why might Si Jun Zi Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Spleen Qi Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Spleen Qi Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Si Jun Zi Tang here

Xiao Yao San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.

Why might Xiao Yao San help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Blood Deficiency with disharmony of Liver and Spleen, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Yao San here

Chai Hu Shu Gan San

Source date: 1602

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.

Why might Chai Hu Shu Gan San help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

Er Chen Tang

Source date: 1148 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm. Regulates Qi and harmonizes the Middle Burner (Stomach and Spleen).

Why might Er Chen Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Damp-Cold Phlegm, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Damp-Cold Phlegm, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Er Chen Tang here

Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1174 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot-Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Wen Dan Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Qi Stagnation in Gallbladder and Stomach with Phlegm Heat, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wen Dan Tang here

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Why might Yue Ju Wan help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Why might Xiao Chai Hu Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Lung Qi Deficiency and Liver Qi Stagnation, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang here

Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Regulates the downward flow of Stomach Qi. Expectorant, treats hiccups.

Why might Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Stomach Qi Deficiency with Phelgm, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang here

Jin Ling Zi San

Source date: 992 AD

Number of ingredients: 2 herbs

Key actions: Moves Liver Blood and Liver Qi. Drains Liver Heat or Fire. Stops pain.

Why might Jin Ling Zi San help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Liver Qi Stagnation that transforms into Heat, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Jin Ling Zi San here

Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Warms and transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Strengthens the Spleen. Resolves Dampness.

Why might Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Phlegm-Fluids in the hypochondrium, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang here

Yi Wei Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthen the Stomach. Creates Body Fluids.

Why might Yi Wei Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat Stomach Yin Deficiency, a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from Stomach Yin Deficiency, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Yi Wei Tang here

Wan Dai Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies the Middle Burner. Removes Dampness. Stops vaginal discharge. Strengthens the Spleen.

Why might Wan Dai Tang help with chronic gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to help treat , a pattern sometimes associated with chronic gastritis. If it looks like you might suffer from , this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).

Read more about Wan Dai Tang here