The Earth Type. Five Element Acupuncture for earth elements.

The Function of the Stomach

The Stomach

The Stomach is considered to be the most important of the Yang organs. It is paired with the Spleen under the influence of the Earth Element. The roles of the two organs are extremely closely linked, which is partly why the Stomach is considered so important. In fact with the Stomach and Spleen we see the merging, and mingling of Yin and Yang in lots of unusual ways, which makes sense as the Earth element is often depicted as being in the middle of the Element cycle.

In Chinese Medicine Stomach and Spleen energy are seen to be fundamental to our health. So long as the Stomach Qi is strong, the prognosis is said to be good.

This is because between them they are said to be ‘The Root of Post Heavenly Qi’, that is the Qi that is produced from the food, drink and air we ingest after birth.

The Stomach – The controller of rotting and ripening

The Stomach is considered to be the most important of the Yang organs. It is paired with the Spleen under the influence of the Earth Element. The roles of the two organs are extremely closely linked, which is partly why the Stomach is considered so important. In fact with the Stomach and Spleen we see the merging, and mingling of Yin and Yang in lots of unusual ways, which makes sense as the Earth element is often depicted as being in the middle of the Element cycle.

In Chinese Medicine Stomach and Spleen energy are seen to be fundamental to our health. So long as the Stomach Qi is strong, the prognosis is said to be good.

This is because between them they are said to be ‘The Root of Post Heavenly Qi’, that is the Qi that is produced from the food, drink and air we ingest after birth.

Function of the Stomach

  1. Rots and ripens food and drink

When we eat or drink, it is the Stomach that initially receives the food and drink. This food is broken by the Stomach through the process of ‘rotting and ripening’. With the help of the Spleen this product is then transformed into Gu Qi that can be transported to the Heart and the Lungs.

  1. Controls transportation of food essences

This function again shows how close the link is between the Stomach and the Spleen. It is the Qi of the Stomach and Spleen that is said to transport the essence or nutrients from food to the rest of the body. Stomach Qi also has an influence on the pulse as it is the nutrients provided by the Stomach Qi that allow the Qi of all the other organs to reach the pulse. Good Stomach Qi is expressed by a pulse that is balanced between yin and yang, neither weak or strong and that is gentle and soft, with a regular, slowish beat.

  1. Stomach sends Qi downward

The natural movement of Stomach Qi is downwards. As we have seen, once the Stomach has conducted its role in digestion is sends food down to the Small Intestine and fluids down to the Bladder. This downward movement of the Stomach counter balances the upward flow of the Spleen. When Stomach Qi fails to descend it can either stagnate causing bloating, fullness and wind or it can become ‘rebellious’ travelling upwards leading to symptoms such a nausea, hiccups, heart burn, reflux and vomiting.

  1. Stomach is the origin of fluids.

The Stomach is the origin of fluids as it is here that fluids first enter the body. Again in direct correlation to the Spleen, the Stomach likes moisture and dislikes dryness. This is because sufficient fluids are needed to ‘rot and ripen’ the food, much like a boiling cauldron extracts the essence of its ingredients.The Stomach can also be seen to be the origin of fluids as it is the Stomach that condenses left over liquid into body fluids. This function is closely linked to the Kidneys as the Kidneys are in charge of transforming fluids in the lower burner. If the Kidneys are nor performing this function well, fluids will back up and over flow into the Stomach – over loading it.

Rachel Geary

Rachel Geary BA(Hons), Lic. Ac. MBAcC is a fully qualified acupuncturist, having graduated from the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine in 2002. She has previously practiced in Inverness and Barnstaple. "I first became interested in acupuncture whilst I was at university studying History and Philosophy. I was particularly drawn to eastern philosophy, which I found particularly elegant and beautiful. I then went on to complete a three and a half year course of study in acupuncture and discovered it exemplify these very same qualities. I feel very privileged to have been able to learn so much about the Chinese understanding of health and to be able to use this knowledge to help others." Rachel Geary is a Registered Acupuncturist, she is registered at The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), and The Association of Community and Multibed Acupuncture Clinic (ACMAC).