BW came to me complaining of intense pain in his stomach and also along the left underside of his ribcage (which, incidentally, is called the ‘hypochondriac region’; ‘hypochondrium’ derived from the Greek word for ‘abdomen’). He said he had lost his appetite, and he was feeling very tired – pretty close to the point of exhaustion. BW was in his early 60’s, and otherwise was in very good health. He got plenty of exercise, he ate well, and he slept a good amount for a man his age.
His tongue looked pale to me, and it was slightly swollen with some redness on the sides and on the tip. His pulse was soft, and a little slippery on the left side, but was soft and quite weak on the right side.
The one thing that may have attributed to BW’s complaint was the fact that he liked to eat out a lot. Although he generally tried to eat healthy foods at the restaurants he frequented, the very fact that he did not cook his own food meant that he did not really know what he was consuming on a regular basis. Restaurants often cook with lots of sugar, oils and even spices that may not agree with our systems. This can cause what we call ‘Spleen imbalance’, and can lead to a blockage of what was likely either Qi or Dampness, or both. I assumed Dampness as well as a small amount of Qi stagnation with BW because of the nature of his demeanour, as well as what I could sense in his pulse. The suggestion of Qi stagnation and thus the involvement of his Liver (which governs the flow of Qi in our bodies) was mainly indicated in the pain in his hypochondriac region and not much elsewhere.
Treatment took only 3 sessions, although his symptoms probably could have been prevented altogether with proper diet. BW was encouraged to start cooking at home more, or at least starting to inquire about the ingredients going into his food at the places he frequented. He agreed that he would at least try the latter.
In addition to some acupuncture on his stomach area and his wrists, I also used a few points on his lower legs. Then each time he came to see me over the next three weeks, I prescribed 4-day prescriptions of a formula called Xiang Sha Yang Wei Tang (Nourish the Stomach Decoction with Aucklandia and Amomum). This formula is generally used to increase one’s appetite, but is specific to a reduced appetite caused by Spleen Qi deficiency with some Dampness accumulation.
He was feeling much better after these three treatments, and to this date he has not complained of the same illness.
By Richard Lobbenberg, R.TCMP
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