IBS due to Stomach Fire
Years ago, stomach ulcers were always considered to be a stress induced pathology whereby too much stomach acid or not enough protective mucus was produced leading to a situation whereby the stomach actually started to digest itself.
Just recently, like since the early 90's, Western medicine came to understand that many ulcers are due to a bacterial infection in the stomach. Nowadays they treat it successfully with antibiotics.
A few years prior to that amazing discovery, something like 1,000 years, Chinese medicine was treating a pathology that we call Stomach Fire. Fire in Chinese medicine is often synonymous with infection.
There are likely other pathologies of the digestive system that are bacterial or viral in nature that Western medicine has yet to define. Not to worry, we're here for you.
The stomach Fire tongue will probably look redder than normal. Red means heat in Chinese medicine and the tongue has a very close relationship with the stomach. So, when the stomach gets hot the tongue gets red, or at least it can get red. Not every case of stomach Fire gives rise to a red tongue.
If you've come to this page, then you've got one of many possible digestive symptoms of Stomach Fire. Heartburn and constipation are common. Diarrhea that stings the anus and has a really strong odor could indicate Fire in the Stomach as well. The reason for a stomach problem ending up in what seems to be a Large Intestine problem is that Chinese medicine sees these two organs as one long tube. The Stomach is connected to the mouth and the Large Intestine is connected to the anus. What effects the Stomach will often have an effect on the Large Intestine.
Heartburn arises when the Fire in the stomach begins to rise up into the throat and cause problems there.
Constipation is a likely outcome of Fire in the Stomach. The heat dries up the fluids in the Large Intestine which are necessary to lubricate the poo-poo leading to constipation.
Other symptoms of Stomach Fire include bleeding gums, that's because of the fact that the acupuncture meridian that goes through the stomach also enters the gums. The Fire from the stomach rises within the stomach meridian and causes the blood to kind of boil out of the capillaries in the gums.
Other symptoms of Stomach Fire include bad breath (for no apparent reason), burping with a foul smell and heartburn which is getting a lot of fancy names nowadays such as GERD (gastro-intestinal reflux disease). As mentioned in the beginning of this article, stomach ulcers due to h-pylori bacteria often manifest as Stomach Fire.
Acupuncture can help to get all that stuff that is arising from the stomach into your mouth to go downward again like its supposed to do. Herbal medicines would seek to put out the fire in the stomach, or kill the bacteria responsible for the problem, depending on how you chose to look at it. By the way if you've had some Western tests and no infection has been found, but your symptom picture still resembles Stomach Fire, that's okay. Stomach Fire is stomach Fire. It doesn't matter what the Western tests show. I talk about infection just to communicate a concept. There is no need for there to be an infection for us to treat Stomach Fire. We're looking at different things to make our diagnosis anyway.
Okay, so what kind of herbs are good for Stomach Fire? If the key symptom is heartburn aggravated by certain foods, you can start out with a simple little formula called Wu Ji Wan. This formula has two actions. One is to reduce the symptoms of heartburn and the other is to kill any possible infection there. As for constipation, one formula that could apply to you is called Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang (Regulate the Stomach and Order the Qi decoction.) There are actually quite a few formulas for Stomach Fire and its numerous symptoms. Some of them are quite drastic in their actions so its really a good idea to check in with an experienced practitioner of TCM herbalism before stirring up a Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang cocktail. It could hurt you if it is too strong for your condition or your constitution.
Be careful out there. Even though herbal medicines are natural, that doesn't always make them gentle. Formulas to clear fire or heat can be very strong in their action and strength in a formula doesn't always serve the patient as well as a gentle formula.
All of the formulas mentioned in this article are widely available at Chinese medicine pharmacies, though the so-called patent medicines that you'll find there aren't always as strong as they could be. These formulas come in a variety of different forms and strengths and your friendly neighborhood herbalist can assist you in obtaining them as is appropriate.
You can purchase any of the formulas mentioned in this article by simply clicking on their names. Another option is to obtain this formula modified for your unique situation from Beyond Well Being.