Stomach Heat or Fire

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 胃热 or 胃火

Pinyin name: Wèi Rè or Wèi Huǒ

Associated TCM concepts: Stomach Heat pattern


Common symptoms: Nausea Dry mouth Dry stools Bad breath Constipation and fifteen other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Full (Shi)

Tongue description: Red in the center with a dry thick yellow or dark yellow coating

Stomach Fire indicates a true Excess of Heat in the Stomach, creating symptoms such as mouth ulcers, bad breath, intense thirst as well as strong desire for cold drinks and foods. The Blood in the Stomach Channel get rebellious due to the extreme Heat or Fire, so that it leaks out of vessels and causes gums bleeding. The pain and swelling in the gums is also due to the Heat in the Stomach Channels. 

Body Fluids are burned off by the excessive Heat, which creates extreme thirst, dry mouth and tongue, dry stools as well as constipation.

Over time the Heat disturbs the normal descending of Stomach Qi, causing obstruction to Stomach Qi or rebellious Stomach Qi, hence the symptoms of regurgitation, vomiting, acid reflux and nausea. The Heat also ferments the Stomach fluids and make it 'sour'. Constant and ravenous hunger is also a result of the Full Heat. 

Stomach Fire and Stomach Heat are similar concept, except that the Fire is much more severe than Heat. For the prior pattern, there will be redder tongue, darker and drier coating, more intense thirst, darker urine, drier stools as well as more disturbed Mind. It is more common to have bleeding gums under the Fire pattern. 

Sometime the Heat or Fire can combine with Phlegm and causes Phlegm-Heat in the Stomach. It causes additional symptoms such as feeling of chest oppression, mucus in stools, mental derangement and spitting of stick phlegm. 

Diagnosing Stomach Heat or Fire

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

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Stomach Heat or Fire will tend to exhibit rapid (Shu), slippery (Hua) or full (Shi) pulses as well as a red centre tongue with yellow coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Stomach Heat or Fire might experience symptoms like bleeding gums, constipation, irritability and dry stools (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Stomach Heat or Fire

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Key actions: Removes Heat and Dryness in the Lower Burner. Removes constipation.

Formula summary

Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang is a 3-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Rhubarb (Da Huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that purge Heat accumulation.

Besides Stomach Heat or Fire, Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang is also used to treat Bright Yang Fire in Stomach and Intestines.

Read more about Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang

Qing Wei San

Source date: 1336 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Drains Stomach Fire. Cools the Blood. Nourishes the Yin.

Formula summary

Qing Wei San is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Goldthread Rhizomes (Huang Lian) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1336 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that clear Heat from the Organs.

Besides Stomach Heat or Fire, Qing Wei San is also used to treat Stomach Fire or Stomach Heat.

Read more about Qing Wei San

Diet recommendations

Eat less hot, sweet, spicy, greasy and deep fried foods.

Most important herbs used to treat Stomach Heat or Fire