Gastritis according to Chinese Medicine

atrophic gastritis, biliary reflux gastritis, chronic gastritis, reflux gastritis and acute gastritis redirect here

Gastritis 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 gastritis 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 gastritis is often associated with alternating fever and chills, dizziness and coughing of copious thin and white sputum in the pattern “/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause gastritis.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of gastritis 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 gastritis.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause gastritis

In Chinese Medicine gastritis is a symptom for 2 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Ephedra (Ma Huang) is the king ingredient for Xiao Qing Long Tang, a formula used for /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm

Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue coating: Thick white coating

Tongue shape: Swollen

This is when, often due to a stagnant Qi, the Body Fluids are retained in the chest and Lungs.

In addition to gastritis, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm include alternating fever and chills, dizziness and coughing of copious thin and white sputum.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm is often treated with Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Ephedra - Ma Huang - as a key herb). Xiao Qing Long Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear wind-cold", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Releases the Exterior".

Read more about Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm here

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

Liver Qi Stagnation

Pulse type(s): Wiry (Xian)

Tongue color: Normal (light red)

When Liver Qi does not flow smoothly or regularly, it becomes Stagnant and in Excess. This leads to Heat accumulating in the Liver. The feeling of ‘Distension’ (zhang 胀) is the main symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation.

In addition to gastritis, other symptoms associated with /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation include poor appetite, alternating fever and chills and vomiting.

From a Western Medicine standpoint /tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-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 Liver Qi Stagnation here

Five herbal formulas that might help with gastritis

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Xiao Qing Long Tang help with gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm' of which atrophic gastritis is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang here

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms the Lungs. Transforms congested Fluids.

Why might Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang help with gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/phlegm-fluids-above-the-diaphragm' of which atrophic gastritis is a symptom.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin 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 gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which chronic gastritis is a symptom.

Read more about Xiao Yao 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 gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which chronic gastritis is a symptom.

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San 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 gastritis?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern '/tcm-education-center/patterns/liver-qi-stagnation' of which chronic gastritis is a symptom.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan here

Acupuncture points used for gastritis

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat gastritis

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with gastritis?

Because it is a key herb in Yue Ju Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with gastritis as a symptom)

Atractylodes Rhizomes is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen Qi. Fortifies the Spleen Yang and dispels Damp through urination. Tonifies Qi and stops sweating. Calms restless fetus when due to Deficiency of Spleen Qi.

Read more about Atractylodes Rhizomes here

Why might Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with gastritis?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with gastritis as a symptom)

Bupleurum Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.

Read more about Bupleurum Roots here

Why might Dried Ginger (Gan Jiang) help with gastritis?

Because it is a key herb in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' (a pattern with gastritis as a symptom)

Dried Ginger is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Warms the Spleen and expels Cold. Restores collapse of Yang and expels Interior Cold. Warms the Lungs and assists expectoration of Cold Phlegm. Stops chronic bleeding caused by Cold.

Read more about Dried Ginger here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with gastritis?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with gastritis as a symptom)

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney, the Lung and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here

Why might Ephedra (Ma Huang) help with gastritis?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Qing Long Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fluids above the diaphragm' (a pattern with gastritis as a symptom)

Ephedra is a Warm herb that tastes Bitter and Pungent. It targets the Bladder and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Releases the surface through sweating. Promotes the circulation of Lung Qi and stop wheezing. Promotes urination.

Read more about Ephedra here