Among the various patterns of imbalance defined in Chinese medicine, food stagnation is one of the most common in the United States. Food stagnation refers to the stoppage or “stagnation” of undigested food and energy in the stomach. And this, of course, is the direct result of poor diet and dietary choices.
Signs and symptoms associated with food stagnation include epigastric pain, abdominal fullness, bloating, acid reflux, stomach cramps, poor digestion, constipation, difficulty breathing, poor distribution of nutrients, and more.
Food stagnation is caused when the stomach is filled to or past is capacity. That is, when a large meal is eaten or too much cold or greasy food is ingested at once time. Think of the way you feel after eating at holidays and parties. And while this syndrome is found among adults, it is very common in children.
Children are predisposed to food stagnation from birth. Infants, for example, have an inherently weak digestive system. And filling them with processed formula or animal milk, feeding them too much too soon, or moving on to solid foods before their system is ready, leads to food stagnation. Their system is unable to cope and so the “food” accumulates and remains “static” in their stomach and intestines. Vomiting, hiccups and constipation are signposts that this is happening.
As children get older, their diet changes to sodas and fruit juices and processed foods and greasy pizzas and burgers, even chips and yogurts. All of these things lead to stagnation of food in the body. And stagnation of food leads to dampness and dampness leads to phlegm. And it is phlegm-damp accumulation that leads to chronic ear infections, colds and viruses, sinus infections, constipation, fevers, colic, asthma, hyperactivity, and nightmares in children.
To avoid food stagnation in children, infants should be fed breast milk up until six months and then mixed with appropriate cereals and foods until one year. If breastfeeding is out of the question because of time or insufficient lactation, then use sheep’s milk, which is the closest animal milk to mother’s milk. From one year to eighteen months, rice porridge (jook) is a good alternative. And broths made from organic vegetables and meets can be given, as well as steamed or boiled vegetables are a good choice thereafter.
Adults are also prone to food stagnation, mostly self-induced by poor dietary choices. Overeating leaves one feeling bloated until the food is able to properly digest. And eating too much fried food, greasy food, fatty food leads not only to stagnation but also to phlegm-damp. And this leads to interior heat, allergies, chronic diarrhea or constipation, food allergies, overweight and obesity, and the inability to think clearly and make lucid decisions.
As you can see, the problem of poor diet has wider implication than just weight and energy. If you have allergies, poor memory and concentration or any of the other signs and symptoms listed here, food stagnation just might be the cause. If it is, the best remedy is a balanced diet and not to overeat.
Mark V. Wiley is unique. As a doctor of both Oriental and Alternative medicine, best selling author, martial art master and international seminar instructor… no one does for wellness what he does!
Dr. Mark’s interest in holistic and natural health practices was not just a mere curiosity; he was looking for long-lasting relief from the debilitating migraines and chronic pain that plagued him for nearly three decades.
His passion for wellness has led him to become an innovator in the field of holistic health with the creation of the self-directed wellness model called The Wiley Method. This Method is unlike other healing systems that look at the individual symptoms and diseases and work toward managing them. Instead, it takes a systems view of health as being intimately tied to ones body, worldview and lifestyle choices.