what is stomach heat?

Stomach Heat in Chinese Medicine

You’ve heard me talk about the relevance of food when it comes to self-care. In the post “Foods to Clear Heat” I mention the different organs that can run hot and require cooling foods for balance. While it may seem unfamiliar– this, thinking about internal organs as running warm or cool, our diagnostic system is thousands of years old and came out of what can be clearly observed through questioning, palpation, pulse taking, smelling, listening, and inspection.

When I came across this video I thought — yes! What a great example of Stomach heat. You want to know what Stomach heat means? Watch these two men eat the world’s hottest chili pepper, the Carolina Reaper.

Sean Evans and Chili Klaus Demonstrate Excess Stomach Heat

Skip ahead to 7:45 to watch them get to it! (Head’s up — there is an F bomb thrown in there if you are sensitive to that….)


Signs of Stomach Heat

You’ll notice as these men eat the peppers, a number of things happen:

  • Their faces turn red
  • They begin to sweat and tear
  • They belch and hiccup
  • They experience pain

The nature of heat is to rise — so we start to see the warmth move to the head. This also causes what we can “rebellious qi” uprising, i.e. the belching and hiccuping. Heat can damage body fluids; and here we see the fluids lost through excretion. Pain is always interesting as both heat and cold can cause pain. By combining all the symptoms and signs a differential diagnosis determines which to treat.

How to know if I have Stomach Heat?

Not all cases are this obvious. If you know one food causes too much heat for your comfort or health (e.g. peanuts, chili, etc), the easiest thing to do is avoid it. But not all Stomach heat comes from too much of something; it can also be caused by underlying deficiency. The best thing to do if you’re wondering about your gut’s health is to check in with an herbalist or acupuncturist. Too much Stomach heat-clearing can be damaging to the system if inappropriately administered. Be wise and be kind to your body!

Share Your Thoughts

35 - 29 =