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Loss of AppetiteGreen icon of person with low appetite

The medical term for loss of appetite is "anorexia," distinct from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. In Western medicine, anorexia is generally considered a symptom rather than a standalone condition, often associated with underlying diseases, treatments, or emotional stress (Laviano et al., 2008, Clinical Nutrition). Persistent loss of appetite could lead to more severe complications if not addressed (Morley, 1997, Nutrition).

Conversely, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) identifies five patterns of disharmony causing appetite loss: 1) Qi deficiency, representing weakened organ function and reduced resistance to illness (Hsu et al., 2014, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine); 2) Qi stagnation, involving localized or systemic energy blockages; 3) Damp heat, an external invasion indicating weak defensive Qi, typically in the stomach or spleen; 4) Spleen Qi deficiency, commonly induced by poor diet or stress, leading to fatigue (Zhang et al., 2015, Chinese Medicine); and 5) Spleen Yang deficiency, an advanced stage of Spleen Qi deficiency with symptoms like cold limbs (Liu et al., 2013, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Image of woman at dinner table just dabbling with her Wan Ton soup, not interested in eating because her lack of appetite.

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