Stomach ulcers according to Chinese Medicine

duodenal ulcer, gastric ulcer and peptic ulcers redirect here

Stomach ulcers 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 stomach ulcers 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 stomach ulcers is often associated with poor appetite, alternating fever and chills and vomiting in the pattern “Liver Qi Stagnation”.

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

Liver Qi Stagnation, a "pattern of disharmony" that can cause stomach ulcers

In Chinese Medicine stomach ulcers is a symptom for the pattern "Liver Qi Stagnation". Below is a small explanation for it with links for more details.

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 stomach ulcers, other symptoms associated with Liver Qi Stagnation include poor appetite, alternating fever and chills and vomiting.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with health issues such as Low Breast Milk Supply, Mastitis or Breast Engorgement.

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

Four herbal formulas that might help with stomach ulcers

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 stomach ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which peptic ulcers 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 stomach ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which peptic ulcers 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 stomach ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which peptic ulcers is a symptom.

Read more about Yue Ju Wan 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 stomach ulcers?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' of which peptic ulcers is a symptom.

Read more about Chai Hu Shu Gan San here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat stomach ulcers

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with stomach ulcers?

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

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with stomach ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Yue Ju Wan, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with stomach ulcers 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 Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with stomach ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with stomach ulcers 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 Bupleurum Root (Chai Hu) help with stomach ulcers?

Because it is a key herb in Xiao Yao San, a herbal formula indicated to treat the pattern 'Liver Qi Stagnation' (a pattern with stomach ulcers 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 Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with stomach ulcers?

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

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Liver and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here