Dr. Lily Wu met a young man at a store when she was returning a purse that she had purchased. When he noticed on her account that she was a doctor, he asked what kind of doctor she was.
After she told him that she was a Chinese Medicine doctor, he proceeded to tell her about his severe stomach problems that he had been having for the past five years. He had no appetite and didn’t want to eat at all.
“Can you help me?” he asked. “I’ve tried everything, but nothing worked. But I haven’t tried Chinese medicine.”
“What are your symptoms?” she asked.
He told her that he woke up every morning feeling nauseous. He had no appetite and couldn’t eat breakfast. Sometimes he couldn’t even drink water because he felt like his stomach was closed up. His also mentioned that his mother had similar chronic stomach problems.
He was about 5’10 and only 140 pounds. He usually couldn’t eat until around lunch time when he felt he had to force himself to eat even though he didn’t feel like it. Sometimes at lunch he would eat and then have stomach pain afterward.
Because he was a 23-year old business student, his digestive issues also had a negative affect on his social life. He couldn’t go out to eat with friends. And he couldn’t take vacations because his symptoms would get worse.
Dr. Wu told him to come to her clinic. There, they talked more. She diagnosed that it was a liver and spleen energy imbalance issue. After diagnosis, she gave him a treatment and prescribed an herbal supplement for him to take.
In the first week he didn’t have any improvement because he had a hard time swallowing the pills. He didn’t take the full dose as she recommended. But after about 10 days he started feeling some improvement. He woke up with an appetite and wanted to eat. He used to have constipation and night sweats, but now he doesn’t.
Before he saw her he had been to many doctors and he also tried meditation. But nothing worked.
“You saved my life!” he told her.
“It makes me feel so good when I can help my patients like this,” Dr. Wu said. “When people have chronic conditions like this, the symptoms can go back and forth. It’s important to know how to take good care of your stomach.”
The main causes of stomach aches are poor eating habits and stress. Here are some tips from Dr. Wu on how to avoid stomach issues:
- Eat warm foods. Ice cold drinks and foods put extra stress on the stomach.
- Drink plenty of water (warm water is best). Sometimes when the body is dehydrated, people mistake it for hunger and end up overeating.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Avoid overly sweet, salty, oily or spicy foods.
- Stop eating when you feel about 70% full.
- Wait 30-60 minutes after meals before doing any strenuous exercise. It is helpful, however, to take a walk after a meal.
- Don’t eat about two or three hours prior to going to bed.
Dr. Wu earned her Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the University of East-West Medicine. She’s a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. She is on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation doctors’ referral list of qualified acupuncturists.
She practices in San Jose, CA. For more information, visit her website at Lily Wu Acupuncture. She is fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese.