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Acupuncture for Gastritis

April 18, 2014

Chronic gastritis may imply certain different kinds of chronic inflammation of gastric mucus caused by several possible factors.  Depending on the pathological changes, there may be three types of chronic gastritis: hypertrophic, atrophic and superficial gastritis. These types have their own unique symptoms although basically the common shared symptoms of chronic gastritis include belching, vomiting, nausea, dyspepsia, anorexia, pain and discomfort in the upper and middle stomach, and recurrent fullness. Gastritis can have symptoms like stomach fullness and epigastralgia that may mimic other conditions. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, this condition can come about due to qi and blood stagnation, stomach yin deficiency, asthenia, longstanding conditions that cause blockages in the liver qi, overstrain, poor diet and emotional upsets.

Differentiation of Syndrome

1. Qi stagnation and liver depression  – symptoms may include a rapid and taut pulse, red tongue with yellow and thin coating, frequent sighing and belching, migratory pain and epigastralgia affecting the sides of the rib.

2. Asthenia (cold in the stomach and spleen) – symptoms for this syndrome include: weak and thin pulse; tongue that is bulgy, light colored, with slippery, thin and white coating; cold limbs; aversion to cold; loose stool; pale complexion; spiritual lassitude; emaciation; preference for warmth and pressure; and a dull abdominal pain.

3. Stomach yin deficiency – symptoms for this syndrome: thin and rapid or thin and taut pulse; red tongue with scanty coating; dry mouth with the urge to drink; hunger without appetite, heartburn-like hunger; and irregular pain in the abdomen.

4. Stagnation of blood in the collaterals – syndrome symptoms: unsmooth pulse; purplish tongue sometimes with ecchymoses; hematochezia, occasional hematemesis, and stabbing epigastralgia with unpressable and fixed pain.


1. Body acupuncture – acupuncture points include: ST 36 or Zusanli point; ST 21 (Liangmen point); SP 4 (Gongsun); PC 6 (Neiguan), CV 12 (Zhongwan).


For distention and fullness in stomach and epigastrium, the BL 20(Pishu), ST 19 (Bu-rong), and LR 13 (Zhangmen) are also needled.

For abdominal heat, ST 44 (Neiting) is needled.

For stagnation of blood in the collaterals, BL 17 (Geshu) and SP 10 (Xuehai) are needled.

For stomach yin deficiency, P6 (Sanyinjiao) and Kl 3 (Taixi) are needled.

For asthenia-cold in the abdomen and spleen, BL 20 (Pishu) and BL 21 (Weishu) are needled

For liver qi invading the stomach, LR 3 (Tai-chong), LR 14 (Qimen) and BL 18 (Ganshu) are needled.


For the stagnation of blood in the collaterals and for liver qi invading the abdomen, reinforcing and mild reducing needling techniques can be utilized

For stomach yin deficiency and asthenia-cold in the abdomen and spleen, reinforcing needling technique can be adopted.

For the asthenia-cold syndrome therapy, moxibustion can be applied as an adjunct for acupuncture.

2. Ear acupuncture

Acupuncture points include: AT 4 (Subcortical); TF4 (Ear Shenmen); AH6a (Sympathetic); CO4 (Stomach); CO17 (Triple Energizer); C012 (Liver); and CO13 (Spleen).


Per acupuncture treatment, two to three points are treated. The needles stay in the ear acupoint for half an hour and manipulated at specific intervals. Electro-acupuncture can be utilized or Semen Vaccariae (Wang-buliuxingzi) to pressure the ear. Both ears need to be needled albeit in alternating fashion.

Dr. Jack Handlin is an experienced acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and oriental reproductive medicine specialist at Tree of Life Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine in Bellevue, WA.