Food is something meant to be enjoyed, but to some of you it somehow becomes a torture. More often than not, you are supposed to be very hungry but unfortunately feel full easily by eating a little bit only, or feel sick, or have abdominal distention after eating, worse still, sometimes accompanied with burning sensation. Picture that how embarrassed it would be if you burp up the bad smell of food in public or have diarrhea right after eating.
As far as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is concerned, stomach swelling or abdominal bloating can be treated with many herbal formulas, in which Cao Dou Kou (Katsumadai Seed) is one of essential components, especially in the cases caused by pathogenic dampness and cold.
What is abdominal distention and what causes bloating after eating?
Gas and bloating is one of common symptoms in diseases of digestive tract, such as gastritis, gastroptosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), duodenal stagnation syndrome, and functional dyspepsia, often accompanied with symptoms like abdominal discomfort and pain, belching, and constipation or diarrhea. Besides, it might also associate to lactose intolerance, celiac disease, food intolerance, surgery, and stress, etc.
From the perspective of TCM, if you feel bloated right after the meal, chances are that the culprit is the deficient cold in spleen and stomach. The reasons are twofold: firstly the stomach, impaired for various reasons, fails to regulate the normal functions of descending and ascending qi, which ends up leading to stagnation in this place; secondarily a weakened gastrointestinal system can result in this condition as you grow older. In addition, to some degree liver is also related to belly bloating after eating as the liver’s functions of conveyance and dispersion tend to be weakened when you are in a bad mood.
Principle of treatments
The treatment in western medicine is quite straightforward – prescribe the relevant drugs once the disease is confirmed. By contrast, the strengths of TCM rest on the overall treatment – give prescription based on the diagnosis of your constitution, which is beneficial to remove the root causes while curing the apparent symptoms. Apparently the latter could lower the frequency of recurrence.
According to the causes, this condition can be classified into two main patterns – deficient abdominal distention (after eating or drinking) and excess abdominal distention (before eating). The former is related to delayed gastric emptying (DGE) and divided into two different types of deficient yin and deficient qi; the latter is related to excessive gastric acid secretion (hyperchlorhydria). In addition, if diarrhea or constipation accompanied, it may involve spleen too. Therapies include tonifying middle-Jiao and Qi while harmonizing stomach, tonifying middle-Jiao and Qi while tonifying spleen, and tonifying spleen while dredging liver to smooth Qi.
Herbal remedies with katsumadai
It is acrid, warm and aromatic in properties and covers meridians of stomach, spleen, and lung. Main functions are to transform dampness, relieve distention, promote the circulation of qi, warm the middle burner, stimulate appetite, and help digestion. Main uses and indications are cold-dampness blocking in middle-jiao, loss of appetite, initial damp-warm, chest tightness, vomiting and hiccups, thoracico-abdominal distention and ache, and indigestion. Usual dosage is 3 to 6 grams.
Related Chinese herbal formulas
(1). Dou Kou Tang, from Bo Ji Fang (Extensive Relieving Prescriptions), is formulated particularly for spleen-stomach deficiency, poor appetite, vomiting, abdominal pressure and swells, and thoracic-stomach hurts. Other two herbs are Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger Rhizome) and Gan Cao (Licorice Root); another version from from Sheng Ji Zong Lu (Complete Record of Holy Benevolence), is mainly used for vomiting due to cold phlegm and breast pressure. Other herbs are Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), Ban Xia (Pinellia Rhizome), and sheng Jiang;
(2). Dou Kou Zi Tang, from Guang Ji Fang (Prescriptions for Extensive Aid), is used for vomiting, poor appetite, and bloat in abdomen caused by reversed qi. Other main herbs are Sheng Jiang, Gan Cao, and Ren Shen (Ginseng);
(3). Cao Dou Kou San, from Bo Ji Fang, is designed for cold mouth and stomach, tastelessness, diarrhea, and cardiothoracic tightness. Others are Gan Cao, Rou Gui (Dried Cinnamon Bark), Chen Pi, and Gao Liang Jiang (Galangal Rhizome).
Potential side effects and contraindications
It is one of common spices, which is used very frequently to remove sheepy smell and other strange taste in cooking. So, it has little or no side effects. But TCM wise, it shouldn’t be used in patterns of yin deficiency generating interior heat, or excessive stomach fire, presenting thirst, dry mouth and constipation. In addition, patients suffering from sjoegren syndrome and diabetes mellitus should avoid it as well.