Fact Check: Patting Elbow Pit Does NOT Cure Stomachache

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Patting Elbow Pit Does NOT Cure Stomachache Unsupported

Is patting the elbow pit, the inside of your elbow, a scientifically proven method to eliminate a stomachache? No, that's not true: There is no evidence supporting this claim, a licensed gastroenterologist told Lead Stories. The page that posted the claim described itself as an "entertainment website."

The claim appeared in a reel (archived here) on Facebook on March 28, 2024. The caption read:

Specific exercise Improve symptoms, daily fully- body exercise remove root causes.#TCM #chineseculture #healthylifestyle #exercise #health

The add-on text in the video, which showed a man patting his elbow, continued:


try it

Pat the elbow pit

200-300 times


This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-03-29 at 12.42.56 PM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 16:42:56 2024 UTC)

Gastroenterologist Nina Nandy, M.D. (archived here), a spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association, told Lead Stories via email on March 29, 2024:

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that patting your elbow pit can cure a stomach ache. While gentle pressure or massage on the abdomen might provide some temporary relief by stimulating nerves or distracting from discomfort, it's not a proven remedy for stomachaches. It's always best to rely on scientifically supported methods for addressing health issues, such as over-the-counter medications, rest, hydration, and consulting a healthcare professional if needed.

She continued:

There isn't a scientifically founded physiological mechanism specifically linking patting the elbow pit to curing a stomach ache. However, it's possible that the act of applying gentle pressure or stimulation to certain areas of the body, including the elbow pit, may trigger the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural pain relievers. Additionally, engaging in behaviors that provide a distraction or sense of comfort, such as patting oneself, might have a placebo effect, where the belief in the remedy leads to a perceived improvement in symptoms. Ultimately, while there may be psychological benefits to such actions, there isn't a direct physiological explanation for why patting the elbow pit would be more effective than other methods.

Lead Stories searched the National Library of Medicine, which indexes over a million titles, but found no scholarly articles (archived here) discussing "elbow pit" and "stomach ache" at once:

Screen Shot 2024-03-29 at 12.52.25 PM.png

(Source: National Library of Medicine screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 16:52:25 2024 UTC)

The website whose name appeared in the video in question, taichizidong.com, is a platform of a China-based business (archived here) that sells video classes (archived here) featuring the person seen in the reel on Facebook. It comes with a disclaimer (archived here) that makes plain that the site does not guarantee the accuracy of its information:

Screen Shot 2024-03-29 at 11.44.06 AM.png

(Source: Taichizidong.com screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 15:44:06 2024 UTC)

Previously, Lead Stories debunked a claim that stretching the back or arms improves liver or spleen function. In both cases, the Facebook profiles that made these claims used the same profile and cover photo as does the stomachache claim in the Facebook reel. They also listed the same website in the About sections of their respective Facebook pages, as can be seen below:

Screen Shot 2024-03-29 at 5.25.39 PM.png

(Sources: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 16:41:13 2024 UTC; Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Mar 29 21:22:01 2024 UTC; composite image by Lead Stories)

As seen in the composite image above, both pages described the linked site, 0nlythebest.net (archived here), as an "entertainment website," but it isn't one -- it's a website that sells a mini-drone and various home tools.

Lead Stories did not find evidence confirming that the "Dr. David Taichi" whose name appears in the Facebook account that made the claim about curing a stomachache or the "Dr. Jony Evan" seen in the related Facebook account are actual licensed medical professionals with verifiable credentials.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of health claims can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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