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Home > Education > Zang Fu > Food Stagnation

Food Stagnation in Stomach

From "Zang Fu Syndromes," by McDonald and Penner


    Irregular meals.

    Unrestrained diet or overeating.

Clinical Manifestations
Epigastric fullness, distention and pain with dislike of pressure Detests food or
Belching with rotten food smell Vomits after eating Distention is reduced after vomiting
Acid regurgitation Unformed stools or
Shortness of breath Knotted constipation

T: Pink
C: Thick and greasy
P: Slippery


    Food Stagnation in ST may occur combined with LIV Qi Invades ST, a form of LIV Qi Stagnation. In such cases, pain may also affect the ribs and sides, and symptoms will be precipitated or exacerbated by emotional distress. Due to LIV involvement, the pulse will be wiry as well as slippery.

Associated Western Conditions


Differential Diagnosis

Food Stagnation in ST may be identified as a Shi condition by the dislike of pressure on the epigastrium, the adverse reaction to eating and the improvement after vomiting. Differentiation of Shi ST conditions with vomiting and epigastric pain is as follows:

Food Stagnation: Blood Stagnation: ST Fire Blazing:
Vomits acid and partly decomposed food

Better after vomiting

Distention prominent

Pain with distention

Unformed stools or Constipation

T: Pink
C: Thick and greasy
P: Slippery

Vomits purple / black blood

Mild or no distention

Sharp fixed pain

Melaena (stools with blood like tar)

T: Dark purple with purple spots
P: Wiry and choppy

No vomiting or

Vomits acid or undigested food

No distention

Burning with pain


T: Red

C: Thick, yellow and dry

P: Slippery, big, Shi and rapid

Treatment Principle

    Clear Food and Conduct Stagnation.

Common Acupuncture Points

    ST-44 / Neiting Clears ST and promotes digestion.

    LIV-13 / Zhangmen Relieves Food Stagnation.

    LIV-14 / Qimen Relieves Food Stagnation.

    PC-6 / Neiguan Regulates MJ and stops vomiting: with SP-4 / Gongsun couples Yinwei Mai and Chong Mai - for fullness and distention.

    SP-4 / Gongsun With PC-6 / Neiguan, couples Yinwei Mai and Chong Mai: for fullness and distention.

    ST-36 / Zusanli Readjusts ST and corrects contravecting Qi (makes ST Qi descend as it should); promotes digestion.

    REN-12 / Zhongwan Regulates ST Qi, suppresses contravection and relieves Food Stagnation.

    REN-11 / Jianli Alternative to REN-12 / Zhongwan.

    ST-21 / Liangmen Alternative to REN-12 / Zhongwan.

Sample Point Prescription:

    Epigastric pain due to Food Stagnation in ST:

    1. ST-36 / Zusanli

    REN-12 / Zhongwan

    PC-6 / Neiguan


    LIV-13 / Zhangmen

    ST-44 / Neiting (from "Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture")

    2. ST-44 / Nei Ting

    LIV-13 / Zhangmen

    ST-21 / Liangmen (from a seminar by Giovanni Maciocia)

    3. PC-6 / Neiguan

    ST-36 / Zusanli


    REN-11 / Jianli (from "Acupuncture: a Comprehensive Text")

    4. REN-12 / Zhongwan

    PC-6 / Neiguan

    ST-36 / Zusanli

    SP-4 / Gongsun


    REN-10 / Xiawan

    ST-21 / Liangmen (from "Zhen Jiu Xue" Jiangsu Province translated by Yimmy Chan and Garry Seifert)

Vomiting due to Food Stagnation in ST:

    1. ST-36 / Zusanli

    REN-12 / Zhongwan

    PC-6 / Neiguan

    SP-4 / Gongsun

    ST-25 / Tianshu (from "Essentials of Chinese Acupuncture")

Common Herbal Formulae

Bao He Wan / Preserve and Harmonize Pill

Zhi Shi Dao Zhi Wan / Immature Bitter Orange Pill to Guide Out Stagnation

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