Undigested food in the stools according to Chinese Medicine

Home > Symptoms list > Undigested food in the stools

Undigested food in the stools 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 undigested food in the stools 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 undigested food in the stools is often associated with cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools in the pattern “Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang”. As you will see below, we have in record two patterns that can cause undigested food in the stools.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of undigested food in the stools we’ve identified three 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 undigested food in the stools.

The two "patterns of disharmony" that can cause undigested food in the stools

In Chinese Medicine undigested food in the stools 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.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Empty (Xu), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Yang Deficiency is an Empty-Cold condition characterized by Coldness and Deficiency. It can cause a general hypoactivity of Organ functions and Oedema. Qi and Blood is more likely to stagnate. Yang Deficiency is mostly related to Spleen Yang, Kidney Yang, Heart Yang or Lung Qi. It is a result of lack of activity or exercise, excessive sex, over-exposure to cold environments and bad diet.

In addition to undigested food in the stools, other symptoms associated with Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang include cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools.

Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang is often treated with Ba Wei Di Huang Wan, a herbal formula made of 8 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Ba Wei Di Huang Wan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish yin and tonify", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Tonifies Yang".

Read more about Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang here

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

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi), Weak (Ruo)

Tongue color: Pale

Spleen Yang Deficiency often develops from Spleen Qi Deficiency, but it is more extensive and severe with additional Cold symptoms, such as cold feeling and cold limbs. The causes are similar to these of Spleen Qi Deficiency, along with surplus consumption of cold, raw foods and drinks and overexposure to cold damp environments and climates.

In addition to undigested food in the stools, other symptoms associated with Spleen Yang Deficiency include cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools.

Spleen Yang Deficiency is often treated with Zhen Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 5 herbs (including Prepared Aconite - Zhi Fu Zi - as a key herb). Zhen Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that warm and transform water and dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys".

Read more about Spleen Yang Deficiency here

Three herbal formulas that might help with undigested food in the stools

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Why might You Gui Wan help with undigested food in the stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Yang Deficiency or Empty Yang' of which undigested food in the stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Yang Deficiency Or Empty Yang include cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools.

Read more about You Gui Wan here

Zhen Wu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies the Yang and Qi of the Spleen and Kidneys. Eliminates Dampness.

Why might Zhen Wu Tang help with undigested food in the stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which undigested food in the stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Yang Deficiency include cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools.

Read more about Zhen Wu Tang here

Yi Huang Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Strengthens the Spleen. Dries Dampness. Clears Heat. Stops vaginal discharge.

Why might Yi Huang Tang help with undigested food in the stools?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Spleen Yang Deficiency' of which undigested food in the stools is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Spleen Yang Deficiency include cold limbs, feeling of cold and loose stools.

Read more about Yi Huang Tang here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat undigested food in the stools

Why might Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) help with undigested food in the stools?

Because Prepared Aconite is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat undigested food in the stools as a symptom, like You Gui Wan or Zhen Wu Tang for instance.

Prepared Aconite is a Hot herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Kidney.

Its main actions are: Raises the collapse of Yang. Warms the meridians and relieves pain caused by Cold. Reduces Damp caused by Deficiency in Yang.

Read more about Prepared Aconite here

Why might Yam (Shan Yao) help with undigested food in the stools?

Because Yam is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat undigested food in the stools as a symptom, like Yi Huang Tang or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

Yam is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. Tonifies the Lung Qi and nourishes the Lung Yin. Nourishes the Kidneys and consolidates Jing.

Read more about Yam here

Why might Cornelian Cherry (Shan Zhu Yu) help with undigested food in the stools?

Because Cornelian Cherry is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat undigested food in the stools as a symptom, like Ba Wei Di Huang Wan or You Gui Wan for instance.

Cornelian Cherries is a Warm herb that tastes Sour. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Preserves and tonifies the Kidney, Liver and Essence. Stops sweating and benefits the Yang and Qi. Assists menstruation and stops bleeding.

Read more about Cornelian Cherries here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with undigested food in the stools?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat undigested food in the stools as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Ba Wei Di Huang Wan for instance.

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

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 Atractylodes Rhizome (Bai Zhu) help with undigested food in the stools?

Because Atractylodes Rhizome is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat undigested food in the stools as a symptom, like Zhen Wu Tang or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang for instance.

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