What is the underlying cause of my stomach and abdominal bloating?

Many people suffer from stomach and abdominal bloating. Most cases of stomach bloating are not related to overeating and also there are no positive results after western medicine tests are done.


Stomach bloating doesn’t only affect the local area but can also influence other parts of the body physically and functionally such as pressing on the lower back, on the hip, on certain internal organs and even on the heart. It can also affect the circulation in all of these areas.

Many people find that their weight gain typically starts from the abdominal area. Therefore, it is very important to find out the cause of the bloating because it will also help in balancing the whole body.

What are the causes of abdominal bloating in Chinese medicine?

The following underlying internal organ weaknesses can cause the symptom of abdominal bloating.

1. Spleen weakness
Chinese medicine physiology says that the Spleen dominates the abdominal area, and transforms and transports (metabolises) food and fluids to every part of the digestive system. If the Spleen is weak, it won’t do this job regularly and the food and fluids will be stuck in the digestive system longer than necessary. When this happens, the abdominal area acts like an over-full “rubbish bin” and bloating occurs.

With this imbalance, the body also can show the following symptoms: fatigue, sluggish bowel movements, decreased appetite, more bloating after eating, pale complexion, puffy arms and legs, and puffiness around the eyes or face especially in the morning.

Suggestions for this type of body:

Diet: avoid eating cold foods and drinks, avoid drinking large amounts of water at once, avoid over eating or eating greasy fatty foods. Suitable foods to eat are onion, ginger, spring onion, chestnut, mandarins, apple, mango, lamb, chicken, beef, sometimes mild chilli and pepper.

Lifestyle: avoid cold and damp environments, increase your exposure to sunshine (30 minutes per day), use orange or red colour decorations or clothes.

2. Liver imbalance (stagnation)
Chinese medicine says that the Liver dominates Qi and Blood circulation to certain parts of the body especially the abdominal area and the digestive system. If the Liver is weak, it will cause stagnation (Qi is blocked and toxins accumulate) in those areas so bloating will happen.

The body also can show the following symptoms: bloating below the rib-cage with discomfort or pain, stiffness or pain on the neck and shoulders, insomnia, headache, stiffness or pain on hip or legs, anxiety, or irritability. Women can also experience breast fullness before the period, period pain, pre-menstrual tension (PMT), delayed periods, or in more severe cases PCOS or endometriosis can also occur.

Suggestions for this type of body:

Diet: eat more green leafy vegetables, coriander, lemon, banana, white radish, peppermint or peppermint tea, green tea (better to drink before 3pm), orange.

Lifestyle: listen to soft music, gentle and slow exercises like swimming, yoga, tai chi, walking or cycling outside in the park or in the woods, decorate your environment with green and blue colours.

3. Dampness and Blood stasis around the abdominal area and lower back
Many conditions can cause Dampness and Blood stasis around the waist area; over consuming cold foods and drinks, living in or exposure over a long period of time to cold and damp environments, injuries to the lower back. All of these can give rise to abdominal bloating.

The body can also show the following symptoms: lower back, hip and tummy pain, period pain or blood clots.

Suggestions for this type of body:

Diet: avoid eating and drinking cold things, eat more warm foods, onion, garlic, pepper, ginger or ginger tea, red tea, lamb, beef, prawns, mild chilli, mango.

Lifestyle: avoid living in cold and damp environments, avoid strong exercises during the period, use hot packs around the waist and lower back especially during the winter (20 minutes, 3 times a week).


A possible sign of ovary health issue in women

If you are of post-menopausal age and have been experiencing worsening symptoms of: pain in the lower abdomen or side, a bloated or full feeling in the tummy, change in bowel habits, indigestion, irregular period, vaginal bleeding not due to menstruation, ovulation bleeding, lots of blood clots, or pain during sexual activity, we suggest first visiting your western medical doctor for a check up.

How can Chinese medicine and acupuncture help with abdominal bloating?

Our practitioners will give you a general health check with our traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis techniques (including pulse and tongue diagnosis) to find out exactly the cause of the bloating.

We will give you the most suitable treatment plan which may include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medication, cupping or meridian massage.

We will also give you some suitable diet and lifestyle suggestions to help maintain your health.

A final tip from our clinical experience: in most cases when the underlying cause is treated and the bloating is resolved, you will find that losing weight also becomes easier!

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