A peptic ulcer is not a good disease candidate for self-treatment alone, and those wanting to treat an ulcer naturally should work locally with a licensed acupuncturist for the best results. A peptic ulcer is a very complicated illness in Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory as it can include both Heat and Cold conditions, and both Excess and Deficient conditions. Herbal therapies are utilized to correct these underlying imbalances so that re-occurring ulcers do not develop along with other health conditions that may be related to these conditions. Some of the common patter of imbalance include:
Excess Heat Toxins and Peptic Ulcers
This would be the terminology most likely used to describe a bacterial infection leading to a stomach ulcer, the most common being a bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This type of ulcer would likely have a sudden onset, and would require some type of an anti-bacterial herb such as Echinacea to resolve it. However, the body would not likely be prone to such an invasion of a pathogen without organ level deficiencies and imbalances to begin with.
Earth Element Imbalances and Peptic Ulcers
The Stomach and the Spleen are the paired Yang and Yin energetic organ systems of the Earth Element in Chinese medicine. This close association dictates that an issue with one would have an impact on the other.
Liver Imbalances, Stress, and Peptic Ulcers
In Chinese medicine, emotions cannot be separated from physical illness. While western medicine does not recognize stress as a cause of peptic ulcers, TCM recognizes Liver Qi Stagnation as a possible root cause of this condition; chronic stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can cause Liver Qi Stagnation, or can be the result of Liver Qi Stagnation.
Disharmony of Liver and Stomach-Spleen and Peptic Ulcers
When the Liver energetic organ system is constrained for a long period of time, it tends to heat up and lash out at other organs according to Chinese medical theory. Which organ it overacts on depends on which organ is the weakest link typically
Liver Overacting on Stomach would include symptoms such as:
- Upper epigastric pain radiating to the shoulder
- Worsening pain and symptoms with emotional distress
Liver Overacting on the Spleen would include symptoms of chronic diarrhea and pain that persists after defecation. This is because the pain is not due to an excess of food accumulating in the Stomach, and therefore does not cease with a bowel movement.
Heat in the Liver and Stomach and Peptic Ulcers
If Liver Qi constraints are not properly addressed and become chronic in nature, the Liver will begin to produce pathogenic Heat. In TCM, Stomach Qi naturally flows downward. When the Liver Heat begins to impact the Stomach, Stomach Qi can begin to counter-flow in an upward fashion resulting in acid reflux and-or vomiting. Other indications can include:
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Foul breath
- Swelling and pain around the rib cage
Stagnation of Damp and Cold and Peptic Ulcers
The Spleen and Stomach can be damaged by Cold according to TCM. The Stomach relies on warmth to digest food properly, and the Spleen must have Yang energy to properly transform fluids. Pathogenic Cold and Internal Dampness indications may include:
- Sticky feeling in the mouth
- Feeling of a mass in the stomach
- Feeling of distention in the rib area
- Poor appetite
- Loose stools containing undigested food
- Continuous diarrhea
- Upper abdominal fullness