The Official of Rotting and Ripening of food is the Stomach. The stomach receives nourishment physically, mentally and spiritually. Physically, the digestive process begins in the mouth with our saliva. Chewing and tasting our food is vital to satisfaction and fully experiencing the food in order to provide us with gratification. The stomach receives the food we ingest, whether we chew it or swallow it whole. The stomach’s role is to prepare the best possible mixture of the right temperature and consistency to send nourishment to all of the other officials. When our food is swallowed whole, the stomach must work harder in attempt break down the food and activate the enzymes to create the nourishing mixture. Mechanical breakdown of the food is necessary to make the mixture smooth, flowing, and satisfying. The Spleen assimilates the mixture, but if something is wrong with the mixture, the Spleen cannot fulfill this role successfully.
In ideal situations, the Stomach receives the very essence of Mother Earth through rotting and ripening her bounty within. Freshly harvested food from the environment it is grown in has the most vital Qi. This is the most satisfying food for the body. When eaten when the Stomach is most active between 7 and 9am, food is best digested and created into a desirable digestive mixture. The Stomach serves as the bridge for bringing what comes from the outer world to the inner world and making it available to all the Officials. The Officials all need abundant Qi in order to be nourished in its own unique way.The Stomach receives and provides by integrating, bringing into fruition and passing on vital food energy. Without mental, physical and spiritual food we can starve the officials of the nourishment they need. The Stomach offers an energetic connection to the world.
The Stomach gifts us our appetite for life, being hungry on the mind, body and spirit level. Input on all levels needs to be digestible. A healthy Stomach Official takes in ideas, inspiration and processes to be distributed by the Spleen to the Kingdom energetically or by the Small Intestine to be transformed and absorbed physically. Variety in food, thought and spirit is important to the Stomach. Too much or too little intake taxes the Stomach.The need for instant gratification causes us to miss the satisfaction in our food and our lives. The Stomach acts as the Official of the public granary and grants the Five Tastes.
The Stomach meridian is one of the longest in the body, controlling the muscles and the flesh. Many of the points along the Stomach meridian are major meeting points with other meridians. We mustn’t forget that the mind is a muscle as well, needing stimulation in order to not become sluggish. The deep pathway of the Stomach meridian connects it to the Spleen meridian. The energy of the Stomach moves downward as that is where it is meant to go. Burping, belching and vomiting is Qi moving the wrong direction, which is referred to as Rebellious Qi. Emotional upset can make one just as sick as physical upset causing the Qi to move in the direction that is unnatural. JR states, “The Stomach Official’s home is throughout the whole body.”
When we are sick, the Stomach cannot be forced to take in foods or mental info until it is ready. It cannot process when depleted. The Stomach will do a good job of breaking down food and information as long as it is healthy. Even the very best foods cannot be blended into something palatable. Insatiable hunger for something is a sign of imbalance in the Stomach Official. This can occur when one carries on eating without nourishing themselves or struggling to feed themselves on the body, mind, and spirit level. Hoarding can be indicative of taking things in without processing them. This can occur intellectually when one is unable to register what is being said to them. Mental shut down can occur when the Stomach Official can’t take information in. Undigested information can go in one ear and out the other. They might churn over and over again in attempt to process, but never digest it.
The Stomach Official may be seen as imbalanced when self-centered or narcissistic behaviors are observed. Never getting to fruition and never getting to harvest leave one in a constant state of anxiety from lack of digesting, there is no peace. Further imbalances seen with the Stomach Official are inability to concentrate, poor memory, and obtrusive thinking with rumination. Pleas for sympathy are often seen with a needy Stomach, a complaint for sympathy that never gets answered, even when the answer is provided. This can often reflect selfishness where there is nothing to harvest, nothing coming in, and nothing to share. There can be tremendous apprehension, anxiety and worry that arises. Any CF can present with imbalances in Earth, but not be an Earth CF. When the Stomach is healthy, we can digest all experience and convert that experience into wisdom and eventually knowing.
Spiritually, the Stomach official offers us security, groundedness, centering, satisfaction and connection to the Mother Earth. Gumenick writes, "We can feel at home anywhere, as we are able to derive nourishment from all experience. We can feel the abundance a child feels at the breast or in the arms of its mother. The earth is truly perceived as sacred, and is seen through eyes of gratitude. A harvest can be perceived in everything.” We know we are held within the Mother Earth and that is the greatest comfort we can experience. Feeling alone or deprived or unsupported or needy gives us an indication to an imbalance in the Stomach Official. The other extreme is that one become so outwardly focused upon others that they become an exhausted martyr with no attention to their own needs.
Physically, because of the pathway of the meridian eye problems, ear problems, headaches, throat diseases, arrhythmia's, lower abdominal problems, muscle weaknesses and even foot problems can be a sign of imbalance in the Stomach Official. All of the activities that we engage our physical body in, all of the activities of the Officials, all of our intellectual processes and many of our spiritual endeavors utilize precious Qi. Nourishment physically, spiritually and intellectually is vital to us replenishing our Qi. The Stomach Official provides this nourishment to the other Officials. A healthy Stomach is allows the other Officials to depend upon its earthly quality of grounding us and thus providing comfort and security. Fatigue, weakness, fainting and exhaustion can be signs of a Stomach imbalance, as the Officials are not receiving nourishment and become devastated. The Stomach Official works in close relation to the Spleen. Worsley states, “The rotting and ripening of food for the Officials is only of value if that food can be sent to every corner of the body, mind and spirit… This task, equally as important as the Stomach’s falls to the Spleen Official, who ensures that we are always provided with the nourishment, day and night, for every day of our lives.” The Spleen and Stomach are interdependent and must work in harmony together.
The correspondences of the Earth Element and hence the Stomach and Spleen Officials are:
Season: Late Summer
Classical Five Element Acupuncture, Volume 3 by JR Worsley
Personal Class Notes ITEA 2019
The Stomach Official by Neil Gumenick