Retching according to Chinese Medicine

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Retching 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 retching 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 retching is often associated with in the pattern “Stomach Yin Deficiency”.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of retching we’ve identified two 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 retching.

Stomach Yin Deficiency, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause retching

In Chinese Medicine retching is a symptom for the pattern "Stomach Yin Deficiency". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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

Stomach Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Partial absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

Stomach Yin Deficiency causes Dryness and Heat, which harms the Organ's ability of receiving and ripening foods and drinks. It is the result of prolonged unbalanced diet and irregular eating habits.

Stomach Yin Deficiency is often treated with Mai Men Dong Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Dwarf Lilyturf Roots - Mai Dong - as a key herb). Mai Men Dong Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nourishes the Stomach".

Read more about Stomach Yin Deficiency here

Two herbal formulas that might help with retching

Shen Ling Bai Zhu San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Augments the Qi. Strengthens the Spleen. Leaches out Dampness. Stops diarrhea.

Why might Shen Ling Bai Zhu San help with retching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Yin Deficiency' of which retching is a symptom.

Read more about Shen Ling Bai Zhu San here

Mai Men Dong Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Stomach. Generates Body Fluids. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Why might Mai Men Dong Tang help with retching?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Stomach Yin Deficiency' of which retching is a symptom.

Read more about Mai Men Dong Tang here

Acupuncture points used for retching

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat retching

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with retching?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat retching as a symptom, like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San or Mai Men Dong Tang for instance.

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

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 Dwarf Lilyturf Root (Mai Dong) help with retching?

Because Dwarf Lilyturf Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat retching as a symptom, like Mai Men Dong Tang or Yi Wei Tang for instance.

Dwarf Lilyturf Roots is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Replenishes Yin Essence and promotes secretions. Lubricates and nourishes the Stomach. Soothes the Lung. Nourishes the Heart.

Read more about Dwarf Lilyturf Roots here

Why might Ginseng (Ren Shen) help with retching?

Because Ginseng is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat retching as a symptom, like Shen Ling Bai Zhu San or Mai Men Dong Tang for instance.

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

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

Why might Unprepared Rehmannia (Di Huang) help with retching?

Because it is a key herb in Yi Wei Tang, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with retching as a symptom)

Unprepared Rehmannia is a Cold herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat by Cooling Blood. Tonifies Yin by promoting Fluid production. Soothes the Heart by calming Blazing Fire. Cools and nourishes.

Read more about Unprepared Rehmannia here

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

Because it is a key herb in Shen Ling Bai Zhu San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Stomach Yin Deficiency' (a pattern with retching 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