Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining. This condition is prevalent among approximately 20% of the adult population. Gastritis may have symptoms such as acid reflux, stomach pain, belching, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bleeding, feeling full, and blood in vomit or stool. There are different types including atrophic and non-atrophic gastritis. The primary identifying factor would be redness and swelling of the stomach epithelium. However, as in the atrophic-type of gastritis, there may also be thinning of the stomach epithelium, whiteness, and dysplasia of the cells. Another commonly associated factor is H-Pylori infection.

Instead of limiting gastritis to a syndrome, Chinese medicine views the disease as a manifestation of the pathodynamics of the Stomach organ. Chinese Medicine practice views the Stomach as the first organ to receive food, which is important as nutrition supports the entire body and spirit’s functions. Thus, it is to a degree a determiner of life and death. The Stomach can be afflicted by several disease factors, such as Climatic factors (cold, heat, dampness, dryness, summerheat), food “evils” (spicy food, sugary sweets, overly sour, strong bitters, etc..), and emotional “evils” (grief, anger, worry, fear, joy). Additionally, separate from external factors that affect the Stomach, there are factors endogenous to the organ itself. For example, there is relative sufficiency of Qi, Blood, and Physiological Heat (Yang) and Moisture (Yin and bodily fluids). There are also factors that affect the dynamic of its mechanical movement, which is referred to as the Qi Transformation (气化).

Here are some examples:

  • Heat of the Stomach will cause hypersecretion of HCL acid
  • Cold of the Stomach may prevent stomach contents from descending into intestines
  • Worry places the body into Sympathetic-mode and away from Parasympathetic-mode, reducing digestive efficiency.
  • Stomach Qi Deficiency leads to weak churning of stomach contents, which result in retained HCL acid in the gut.
  • Stomach phlegm means the mucosa secretes excessively, which can cause slow movement of stomach contents and cause gastric discomfort.

As one can see, there are ways to juxtapose between Chinese medical and conventional medical diagnoses. However, this is only to a degree.

Because gastritis is considered part of internal medicine, in regards to treatment, acupuncture, moxabustion, and herbal medicine are administered. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles at various points on the body to regulate the body’s autonomic nervous system (responsible for digestion). Various medicinals are prescribed, often in formulated prescriptions, according to the patient’s Chinese medical diagnosis. For example, warming herbs like Dried ginger and Atractlyodes may be prescribed for Stomach Cold. Additionally, the acupuncturist may apply warmth from moxabustion to various points on the body. For Stomach Heat, cold herbs like Coptis root may be prescribed.