Acupuncture for Digestive Issues
Many people have digestive problems but are unable to identify the root of the issue. Using Chinese medicine diagnosis, we can determine which organs need treatment and customize your care to regulate and revitalize your digestive system. Traditional Chinese Medicine can help find and treat the underlying cause of digestive upset or irregularity. Our treatment plan often includes dietary changes using the principles of Eastern and Western nutrition to discover what your digestive system reacts to and how your can modify your diet to reflect the needs of your body.
The digestive system is very delicate, and even slight changes can throw your whole system out of balance. Acupuncture can help by improving your current digestive function as well as setting the stage for more balanced digestive health. Acupuncture can be used for a wide range of diagnosed gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and even gallstones. It can also be an effective treatment for postoperative digestive trouble, ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. For digestive issues, it is important to make sure that blood is flowing well to each of the organs involved in digestion. Reducing inflammation and balancing good and bad bacteria is also a primary focus.
Acupuncture can also be highly effective for indigestion, reflux, GERD, and some types of vomiting symptoms. Treatment for these symptoms involves helping to regulate the small and large intestines in addition to assistant the stomach to regulate acidity. Acupuncture is also an effective treatment for ulcers, which are caused by an accumulation of stomach acid that can cause erosion. Acupuncture can help calm the fire and acid in the stomach, decreasing the recurrence of ulcers and the pain they cause.
Digestion According to Traditional Chinese Medicine
Your digestive system turns the foods you eat into energy and nutrients for your body. Many digestive disorders such as bloating, constipation, and indigestion are a result of disharmony between the liver, stomach and spleen meridians in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Using acupuncture can be very helpful balance the meridians to heal digestive issues. Acupuncture can be used for instant relief of digestive discomfort or for long-term relief of chronic conditions. A temporary (recent onset) digestive issue can typically be resolved in very few sessions. For persistent or chronic problems such as long term constipation or diarrhea, regular acupuncture treatments can help to regulate the balance of bacteria, enzymes and improve the health of digestive organs. For inflammatory bowel disease or ulcerative colitis, research from the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that acupuncture can decrease the “colitis activity index” used to measure the severity of the symptoms. Acupuncture treatment for these conditions works with the whole body, as the digestive system is connected to many other regulatory processes in the body.
Treatment Designed for You
Acupuncture treatments rely on several different methods to understand what your body needs: your acupuncturist will check your pulse, your tongue, and ask a series of questions to uncover the underlying cause of your digestive troubles. The physical process of using acupuncture for your digestive health would involve using acupoints all over the body including points on the arms, legs, and stomach. As a holistic practice, our practitioners may also discuss dietary changes, supplements, or Chinese herbs to help regulate your digestive system.
What We Treat
Here are some conditions we commonly help with:
Constipation is a very common digestive disturbance caused by a number of factors including consuming too much dairy or gluten, imbalanced gut bacteria, hormone imbalance, stress, pregnancy, not getting enough daily fiber as well as the use of some medications. Constipation is typically characterized by belly bloating, and small, hard, and irregular bowel movements. Regardless of what’s causing your constipation acupuncture is as effective as conventional medical therapy, without any of the harsh side effects and without dependency issues. Acupuncture will cure the issue so that you do not have to be reliant on pills, powders or teas to have a bowel movement. Acupuncture has been shown to improve weekly functional GI symptoms through its alteration of GI motility at the acupuncture point in the upper abdomen, causing muscle relaxation through the body’s own parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also stimulates the stomach and digestive tract to move and properly digest your food.
Gas and bloating can be caused by many factors such as eating too much raw food, overeating, not chewing enough or eating at the wrong times (in the middle of the night). These habits can lead to poor or weak digestion, causing food or gas to build up in the intestine. Eating mostly cold foods (raw foods or food directly out of the fridge) can prove difficult to digest, leaving the food to ferment and produce gas. It is important to eat warmer, cooked foods during colder weather and stay active to promote movement and warmth throughout the body. Whatever the case may be, acupuncture can help speed up the recovery process while you are making the necessary changes to your diet and activity.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a term used to describe the experience of pain or discomfort in the abdomen, due to bloating, swelling, as well as instances of diarrhea and/or constipation. IBS is recurrent, and for many a debilitating condition, without an identifiable cause. Though western medicine doesn’t have many options for treatment, Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the patient’s entire experience with IBS and their daily life to determine how best to address their concerns. Acupuncture has been shown in research to provide pain relief, aid in regulation of GI motility, and promote relaxation of the colon through its activation of the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also promotes blood flow to the digestive organs to keep them in good working order while relaxing the nervous system to also regulate digestive function.
Ulcerative colitis is the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, usually the innermost lining of the large intestines and rectum. Some common symptoms include rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and an increased risk of developing colon cancer. A recent study comparing the treatment of colitis with traditional Western methods and acupuncture found a significant decrease in reported symptom severity and an overall increase in quality of life for those treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture was also shown to have few side effects in the treatment of colitis, making it an ideal and readily available form of treatment.
Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, can be a very debilitating disorder for people suffering with it. Its symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue, and blood in stool. These symptoms are caused by the inflammation of the lining of the gut, which can easily be exacerbated by something as simple as eating a certain food. Acupuncture offers a safe, long-term solution to managing Crohn’s Disease. It’s anti-inflammatory effects on the body can help repair the gut. Acupuncture also helps to balance the immune and nervous system to improve on symptoms of Crohn’s. It can be used on its own or in combination with conventional therapies.
Nausea is characterized as a feeling of queasiness that often precedes vomiting. Acupuncture has been shown in various clinical trials to alleviate nausea and vomiting for a multitude of conditions including: following chemotherapy or radiology treatments, motion sickness, morning sickness during pregnancy, side effect of certain medications, or even before/ following surgical procedures. It is very effective at settle the stomach, improving appetite and digestion as well as promoting comfort. Most of current research on acupuncture for nausea focuses on the acupoint P6 located at the wrist to harmonize the stomach. Incorporating acupuncture with moxibustion as well as changes to your diet may also help with feelings of nausea.
If you’re having nausea related to pregnancy, you can learn more about acupuncture for pregnancy care here.
Diarrhea involves loose bowel movements that can happen to anyone at any point in time. Individuals with diarrhea may experience bloating in their belly, cramps in mild cases. In more serious cases however individuals may experience weight loss, fever, and have blood present in their stool. Diarrhea has a multitude of causes including allergies, colitis, IBS, Crohn’s, diabetes, medications, overactive thyroid or fungal/bacterial/viral causes. Acupuncture can help reduce and prevent diarrhea by rebalancing the circulation of the body’s natural energy. Combining acupuncture with moxibustion as well as incorporating small daily life changes may also help. In certain cases, herbs are prescribed to kill bacteria that may be causing the diarrhea.