Strengthen Your Digestive Health with Acupuncture

Our gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. There are a number of diseases associated with our GI tract ranging from excessive gas build-up, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Crohn’s disease. Most of these conditions are chronic, although some conditions of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease can be life-threatening.

Early Chinese medical texts state that “The origins of any chronic disease can be traced back to compromised digestive function.” In other words, Chinese medicine views digestive health as the foundation to total health.

digestive health

According to Chinese medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. In fact, it’s not so much the stomach that holds the key in maintaining optimal digestive function, it’s the SPLEEN.

Unlike Western medicine that views the spleen as not-so-vital, Chinese medicine considers the spleen an extremely important organ, not only for digestive functions, but for reproductive health, immune functions, and vascular strength.

The spleen (which includes the pancreas in Chinese medical theory) takes a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and Qi (energy).

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The liver also plays a critical role in the digestive process. When the spleen is weak, the liver cannot move smoothly, so that the combined effects of weak spleen and liver often result in serious digestive disorders.

In addition, the large/small intestines, the gallbladder, and the kidneys are intricately involved in our digestive process. Therefore, maintaining optimal digestive heath always requires a holistic approach that takes into a whole body into account, not just the organs associated with the GI tract.

Acid Reflux Anyone?

It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the general population is affected by Acid Reflux (GERD). While other groups are impacted, at least half of all asthmatic children experience symptoms, and pregnant women tend to suffer more than the average population.

For some people, eating a heavy, spicy or fatty meal can produce the unmistakable signs of acid reflux. Symptoms can vary from a burning pain in the chest to a sour taste in the mouth as stomach acid and/or regurgitated food flows upward through the esophagus into the oral cavity. Additionally they may experience difficult or painful swallowing, sore throat, a dry, rough voice, or feeling of a lump in the throat that cannot be cleared away.

acid reflux

In western medicine views too much acidity causes Acid Reflux. Some doctors (including myself) think that Heartburn and GERD are NOT caused by too much stomach acid. They are caused by too little stomach acid and bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and intestines. Therefore successful treatment is based on restoring adequate stomach acid production and eliminating bacterial overgrowth.

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In Chinese medicine, acid reflux is viewed as rebellious stomach Qi. Typical treatment includes needling on the points to redirect energy downwards, as should naturally happen just after eating or drinking.

Diet is very important in helping to calm symptoms. By all accounts, reduce the intake of “wheat” and sugary foods. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon in a one cupful of water with a touch of honey and/or eating an apple in an empty stomach, preferably first in the morning, can help tremendously in restoring acidity in the stomach.