Belching according to Chinese Medicine

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Belching can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like belching here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here belching is often associated with vomiting, insomnia and nausea in the pattern “Rebellious Qi”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause belching.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of belching we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat belching.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause belching

In Chinese Medicine belching is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Inula Flowers (Xuan Fu Hua) is the king ingredient for Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, a formula used for Rebellious Qi

Rebellious Qi

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red sides

Rebellious Qi is when Qi flows in the wrong direction. For instance, if one suffers from a rebellious Stomach Qi (a common case), the normal downward flow of Stomach Qi is disrupted and it goes upward instead. This may result in nausea, vomiting, belching or hiccupping.

In addition to belching, other symptoms associated with Rebellious Qi include vomiting, insomnia and nausea.

Rebellious Qi is often treated with Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Inula Flowers - Xuan Fu Hua - as a key herb). Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang belongs to the category of "formulas for a rebellious qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the downward flow of Stomach Qi".

Read more about Rebellious Qi here

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

Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach

Pulse type(s): Weak (Ruo), Wiry (Xian)

In addition to belching, other symptoms associated with Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach include irritability, epigastric distension and hypochondrial distention.

Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach is often treated with Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Inula Flowers - Xuan Fu Hua - as a key herb). Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang belongs to the category of "formulas for a rebellious qi", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Regulates the downward flow of Stomach Qi".

Read more about Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach here

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

Rebellious Liver Qi

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

In addition to belching, other symptoms associated with Rebellious Liver Qi include irritability, epigastric distension and breast distention.

Rebellious Liver Qi is often treated with Chai Hu Shu Gan San, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Chai Hu Shu Gan San belongs to the category of "formulas that promote qi movement", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood".

Read more about Rebellious Liver Qi here

Crow-Dipper Rhizomes (Ban Xia) is the king ingredient for Er Chen Tang, a formula used for Phlegm

Phlegm

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

Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

The concept of Phlegm is much wider and important in Chinese Medicine than in the West. Broadly speaking, Phlegm is a substance produced when the body fails to handle Body Fluids properly.

In addition to belching, other symptoms associated with Phlegm include irritability, vomiting and dizziness.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Phlegm is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Late Menstruation or Scanty Menstruation.

Phlegm is often treated with Er Chen Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Er Chen Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Dries Damp and dispels Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm here

Bupleurum Roots (Chai Hu) is the king ingredient for Xiao Yao San, a formula used for Qi and Blood Stagnation

Qi and Blood Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red), Red, Red sides

In addition to belching, other symptoms associated with Qi and Blood Stagnation include irritability, dizziness and hot flushes.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Qi and Blood Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Menstrual Cramps, Absence Of Menstruation or Menopausal Syndrome.

Qi and Blood Stagnation is often treated with Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Bupleurum Roots - Chai Hu - as a key herb). Xiao Yao San belongs to the category of "formulas that harmonize liver-spleen", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen".

Read more about Qi and Blood Stagnation here

Five herbal formulas that might help with belching

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 belching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Rebellious Qi' of which belching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Rebellious Qi include vomiting, insomnia and nausea.

Read more about Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang here

Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang

Source date: 1706 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Augments the Qi. Warms the Middle Burner. Directs Rebellious Qi downward. Stops hiccup.

Why might Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang help with belching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Rebellious Liver Qi invading the Stomach' of which belching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Rebellious Liver Qi Invading The Stomach include irritability, epigastric distension and hypochondrial distention.

Read more about Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang here

Si Ni San

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Regulates Liver and Spleen. Eliminates Internal Heat.

Why might Si Ni San help with belching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Rebellious Liver Qi' of which belching is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Rebellious Liver Qi include irritability, epigastric distension and breast distention.

Read more about Si Ni San here

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Why might Jia Wei Xiao Yao San help with belching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Qi and Blood Stagnation' of which belching is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Qi and Blood Stagnation can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San here

Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang

Source date: 1675 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Spleen and Stomach Qi. Removes Dampness. Moves Qi. Alleviates pain.

Why might Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang help with belching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm' of which belching is a symptom.

According to Chinese Medicine, Phlegm can contribute to many health issues, including Menopausal Syndrome.

Read more about Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat belching

Why might Inula Flower (Xuan Fu Hua) help with belching?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat belching and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat belching as a symptom (such as Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang for instance).

Inula Flowers is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Large intestine, the Liver and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Moves Stagnant Phlegm in the Lungs. Reverses the flow of Rebellious Qi of the Lungs and Stomach.

Read more about Inula Flowers here

Why might Persimmon Calyx (Shi Di) help with belching?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat belching and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat belching as a symptom (such as Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang for instance).

Persimmon Calyxes is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Directs the flow of Qi downward

Read more about Persimmon Calyxes here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with belching?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat belching as a symptom, like Si Ni San or Jia Wei Xiao Yao San for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Fresh Ginger (Sheng Jiang) help with belching?

Because Fresh Ginger is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat belching as a symptom, like Ding Xiang Shi Di Tang or Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang for instance.

Fresh Ginger is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Read more about Fresh Ginger here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with belching?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat belching as a symptom, like Xiang Sha Liu Jun Zi Tang or Si Mo Tang for instance.

Ginseng is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Very strongly tonifies the Qi. Tonifies the Lungs and Spleen. Assists the body in the secretion of Fluids and stops thirst. Strengthens the Heart and calms the Shen (mind/spirit).

Read more about Ginseng here

Conditions associated with belching

Menopausal syndrome Morning sickness