Chinese Medicine 101 – Spleen/Stomach and Digestive System

In order for our patients to receive more information on the fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and associated western symptoms, we are putting together a series of very basic information of each system.  It is not meant to be all inclusive or include every combination or possibility of a diagnosis from a TCM perspective, that is up to your practitioner to figure out. Your practitioner will help you understand your specific diagnosis.


We are also including some common foods that a patient can eat in order to assist in balancing their energy and associated patterns.

SP-routeSpleen Meridian

The Spleen Meridian travels from the upper part of the chest down the inside of the arm to the thumb on bilateral. As shown in the picture.

Spleen Syndromes

The Spleen System is very different it TCM than in western medicine.  It is the powerhouse system that produces energy for the entire body.  Spleen Element correspondences include:

  • Yin  associated Yang organ is the Stomach
  • Color: Yellow
  • Flavor: Sweet
  • Emotion: Anxiety, desire, pensiveness
  • Tissue: Muscles
  • Sense: Taste
  • Element: Earth

The Spleen Qi in TCM has the following etiology and associated pathology signs/symptoms:

  • Dominates muscle – Thin muscles, general weakness
  • Controls blood – Bruising on skin, bloody stool
  • Related to Stomach – Decrease food intake, retention of food, gastric distention, nausea, vomiting
  • Transportation and transformation of nutrients – Sallow complexion, pale lips, abdominal distention, loose stool, cold limbs, lack of strength
  • Transportation and transformation of fluids – pressing sensation on chest, phlegm accumulation, ascites, edema, nausea, heavy limbs and body
  • Qi ascends – Shortness of breath, chronic diarrhea, prolapse of anus and uterus

There are several patterns associated with Spleen Qi.

Spleen Qi Deficiency

  • Tiredness
  • Limbs feel heavy and weak
  • Loose stool
  • Digestive issues
  • Poor concentration

Western symptoms: Anemia, gastric issues and ulcers, chronic neurosis, chronic gastritis or enteritis, IBS

Dietary recommendations:

Oats, Rice, Rye, Seitan, Carrots, Potato, Pumpkin, Squash (winter), Watercress. Yam, Shiitake, Apples, Cherry, Grapes, Papaya, Chickpea, Lentil, Soybean (yellow), Tofu, Almonds, Chestnuts, Coconut, Peanut, Sunflower seeds, Carp, Mullet, Salmon, Tuna, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Goat, Ham, Turkey, Cinnamon bark, Licorice, Thyme, Astragalus, Ginseng, Kava Kava, Pollen, Saw Palmetto, Beer, Chamomile, Soy Milk, Algae

Spleen Yang Deficiency:

  • Bloating after eating
  • Loose stools
  • Low appetite
  • Edema
  • Cold limbs
  • Chilliness

Western symptoms: similar to above

Dietary recommendations:

Chestnuts, Anchovy, Shrimp, Goat, Lamb, Basil, Cayenne, Chili, Cinnamon bark, Clove, Dill seed, Garlic, Ginger, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Aconite, Ginseng, Jasmine flower, Saw Palmetto, Ginger

Dampness in Spleen/Stomach:

  • Full feeling
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite
  • Loose stool
  • Muzzy head
  • Tired and heavy
  • Sticky yellow coat on tongue

Western symptoms: Acute or chronic gastroenteritis, bacterial dysentery, cirrhosis of liver, chronic hepititis

Dietary recommendations:

Buckwheat, Rye, Alfalfa, Asparagus, Caper, Parsnip, Squash (winter), Turnip, Watercress, Oyster Mushroom, Blueberry, Grapefruit peel, Lemon peel, Papaya, Orange peel, Tangerine peel, Aduki been, Blackeye been, Chickpea, Lentil, Mackerel, Tuna, Duck, Quail, Basil, Cardamom, Cinnamon bark, Garlic, Horseradish, Juniper, Nettle, Rosemary, Angelica root, Kava Kava, Ginger

Stomach Meridian

ST-r-bodyThe Stomach Meridian travels from the lower part of the eye, through the face then down the chest, stomach and front of leg. As shown in the picture.

Stomach Syndromes

The Stomach System is very different it TCM than in western medicine.  It is the powerhouse systemST-route-face that produces energy for the entire body.  Stomach Element correspondences include:

  • Yang associated Yin organ is the Spleen
  • Color: Yellow
  • Flavor: Sweet
  • Emotion: Anxiety, desire, pensiveness
  • Tissue: Muscles
  • Sense: Taste
  • Element: Earth


The Stomach Qi in TCM has the following etiology and associated pathology signs/symptoms:

  • Controls rotting and ripening – Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, bloating
  • Qi descends to Small Intestine – Fullness, distension, sour regurgitation, acid re-flux, belching, hiccup, nausea, vomiting
  • Origins of thirst – Thirst (deficient stomach fluids)

There are several patterns associated with Stomach Qi.

Stomach Qi Deficiency:

  • Tiredness in morning
  • Lack of taste
  • Weak limbs
  • Loose stool
  • Discomfort in epigastrium
  • Stomach rumbling

Western symptoms: painful digestion (dyspepsia), Anorexia, Chronic gastritis

Dietary recommendations:

Corn, Oats, Rice, Seitan, Potato, Pumpkin, Squash (winter), Sweet potato, Watercress, Shiitake, Apple, Cherry, Date, Gooseberry, Chickpea, Lentil, Soybean (yellow), Chestnut, Anchovy, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardine, Shrimp, Tuna, Beef, Chicken, Pheasant, Pork, Venison, Fennel seed, Hawthorn, Licorice, Devil’s Claw, Hawthorn, Pollen, Rue, Wheatgrass, Soy milk, Ginseng, Thyme

Stomach Yin Deficiency:

  • Mouth and dry throat
  • Dry Stools
  • No desire to drink
  • No appetite
  • Abdominal distention after meals
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Low grade afternoon fever
  • Dry vomiting
  • Vague epigastric pain

Western symptoms: Chronic gastritis, Diabetes mellitis

Dietary recommendations:

Barley, Millet, Alfalfa, Potato, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash (summer), Sweet Potato, Tomato, Laver, Apple, Apricot, Banana, Mango, Orange, Peach, Pear, Persimmon, Pineapple, Plum, Pomegranate, Strawberry, Mung bean, Pea, Tofu, Hemp seed, Clam (saltwater), Crab, Mullet, Sardine, Whitebait, Beef, Duck, Pork, Marjoram, Chickweed, Ginseng (American), Marshmallow root, Slippery Elm, Sesame Oil, Soy milk

Cold in the Stomach:

  • Epigastric pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Relieved by warmth
  • Sharp or dull pain

Western symptoms: Pyloric obstruction, Ulcers, Chronic Gastritis, IBS

Dietary recommendations:

Warming fluids to the stomach, Rice (sweet), Sorghum, Brussels sprouts, Fennel bulb, Leek, Bell Pepper, Squash (winter), Cherry, Anchovy, Shrimp, Chicken, Bay, Clove, Dill seed, Ginger, Pepper (black), Malt sugar, Spirits, Wine, Basil

Stomach Food Stagnation:

  • Epigastric distention, fullness, and pain with pressure
  • Acid regurgitation
  • Detests food or vomits after eating
  • Loose stools, diarrhea or constipation
  • Foul breath
  • Nausea
  • Belching

Western symptoms: Dyspepsia

Dietary recommendations:

Basil, Carrot, Cayenne, Chive, Clove, Garlic, Grapefruit, Orange Peel, Tumeric, Peppermint, Watercress, Squash, Peach

Excess Stomach Heat:

  • Burning heat and pain in epigastrium
  • Thirst, drinks lots of cold drinks
  • Excessive appetite or hunger
  • Foul breath
  • Acid reflux
  • vomit right after eating
  • Constipation
  • Scanty or dark urine
  • Pain in gums or gums bleeding

Western symptoms: Chronic gastritis, Diabetes mellitus, Gingivitis, Mouth ulcers, Periodontitis

Dietary recommendations:

Barly, Millet, Seitan, Wheat bran, Alfalfa, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, Chinese cabbage, Cucumber, Lettuce, Mushroom button, Olive, Potato, Radish, Seaweed, Squach (summer), Tomato, Water chestnut, Watercress, Kelp, Apple, Banana, Fig, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Loquat, Mango, Pear, Persimmon, Plum, Watermelon, Soybean, Tofu, Clam, Quail, Licorice, Aloe, Chickweed, Honeysuckle, Marigold, Meadowsweet, Rosehip, Senna leaf, Spearmint, Valerian, Sesame oil, Salt, Dandelion root, Soy milk, Thyme


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