Integrative Medicine Blog

REN 12: For A Healthy “Summer” Stomach

Liza Pollock L.Ac, M.Ac.O.M. Sunday, July 08, 2018
Istock-ren12 stomach

According to Chinese Medicine, summer "cold foods" can injure digestion. REN 12 can help!

The summer brings much excitement and enjoyment. Finally, we can thaw out after the harsh winter and cold spring we had this year. Often in the summer we eat foods that we don’t eat in other seasons, like cold vegetable and fruit salads, cold drinks, and ice cream treats. According to Chinese medicine, this can injure the digestion. The organs that receive and distribute the food and drink that we take in are the stomach and spleen—the stomach receives and the spleen is said to transform and transport the nutrients throughout our bodies to use as vital energy or Qi. These organs like to be warm to perform their healthy functioning.

The point REN 12, also know as CV 12 or conception vessel 12, is named Zhong Wan or Middle Cavity. This point has a direct affect on the stomach. It is on the channel that comes up the midline of the front of the body and is the central most point. It has the action of tonifying the stomach and fortifying the spleen. In other words, it nourishes these organs and increases their available Qi. This point is in the midline of the upper abdomen half way between the belly button and junction where the ribs come together, or about your hand’s width above the belly button.

Sometimes in needing to cool off in the summer we eat cold foods and drinks that can hurt our stomach and impair digestion. This point is used to rectify abdominal pain and fullness, nausea, acid reflux, diarrhea and more. If you experience any of these you can locate this point and apply gentle pressure. On an emotional level, particularly the emotions of worry, anxiety and overthinking can also injure the healthy functioning of the stomach and spleen pair, resulting in a weakness and therefore slowed down digestion and improper absorption of our food. If anger, frustration, and resentment are present, especially while eating, this can further impair the healthy functioning resulting in stagnation of Qi which often manifests as abdominal pain. For all these things, REN 12 is helpful.

Some Chinese medical advice: eat food that has come up to room temperature or at least not straight out of the refrigerator, especially fruits and veggies. When you do eat something cold, add some ginger or other warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, or even cayenne to assist your digestive forces. This way, you will cool off and your stomach will thank you!

Have a great summer!

Sources: A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman.