Acupuncture for Digestive Disorders

Acupuncture for Digestive Disorders

Acupuncture is well-known for its effectiveness for pain, but did you know that it can also treat internal disorders? Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are very useful holistic health tools to address internal conditions including digestive complaints.

The treatment modality of acupuncture is based on the medical paradigm of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which offers a unique understanding of illness, health, and holistic healing. In TCM, health depends on the proper functioning of the various organs, which each have unique functions or roles to play in the overall system. Illness arises when there is a weakness or dysfunction of organ system, the presence of a pathogenic factor, or a weakness of the body’s nutritive resources of blood and qi (energy).

Digestive issues are frequently treated with acupuncture by selecting specific acupoints along the meridians associated with the stomach, large intestine, and spleen organs. Using these points, acupuncturists can regulate the digestive system and remove pathogenic factors that contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms.

Acupuncturists also frequently use Chinese herbal medicine to support your acupuncture treatment. A combination of acupuncture, natural medicine, and dietary changes is the optimal treatment for digestive disorders including nausea and bloating, acid reflux/GERD, IBS, and inflammatory conditions of the bowels including Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. The skilled practitioners at Acu-Na’s wellness center will help you achieve immediate results as well as long-term maintenance to improve your wellness and alleviate your health concerns.

Acupuncture for Nausea

           Acupuncture is very effective for treating nausea, as evidenced by the popularity of “Sea Bands” to treat seasickness and morning sickness by applying pressure to the acupuncture point NeiGuan (P6) on the wrist. The effect of this point is even stronger when stimulated by acupuncture rather than acupressure. It is also important to use supporting acupuncture points that address the underlying causes of nausea for that particular patient. Acupuncture treatments are customized based on the individual, and no two holistic healing treatments are exactly alike because no two patients are exactly alike. Nausea can be caused by a variety of underlying issues, and your acupuncturist creates a unique diagnosis and treatment plan for you to relieve your symptoms quickly and achieve long-lasting results.

Acid Reflux/GERD

           Millions of Americans suffer from acid reflux that affects their daily life, causing discomfort and affecting their enjoyment of eating. Unfortunately, uncontrolled acid reflux can cause erosion of the lining of the esophagus and creating increased risk of esophageal cancer. Luckily, acupuncture is effective for regulating the digestive system and reducing acid reflux to improve your daily life and avoid long-term consequences

           Western medical treatment of acid reflux primarily involves the use of proton-pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, and Prevacid. Unfortunately, the use of these medicines causes bone loss and osteoporosis, among other side effects. The problem with these medicines is that they prevent the production of stomach acid, and stomach acid is crucial in the absorption of minerals from the food you eat and the supplements you take. This causes mineral deficiency and significant weakening of the bones. An easy way to avoid these consequences is to reduce dependence on medication by using acupuncture and natural medicine to control your symptoms. At Acu-Na, we offer nutrition counseling services to assist with dietary changes and planning, as well as a high-quality natural digestive enzyme that controls acid reflux without any side effects.

Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Many people who suffer from IBS become frustrated by lack of treatment options offered by western medicine and seek treatment using acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Some medical practitioners use IBS as a “one size fits all” diagnosis, assigning this diagnosis in the absence of other medical explanations for the patient’s discomfort. In contrast, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), approach this condition on an individual basis, evaluating each patient’s individual health history and symptoms to create a specific and treatable TCM diagnosis.

           IBS is a functional bowel disorder characterized by abdominal pain and changes in bowel habits that are not explained by any structural abnormalities, with clinical diagnostic testing revealing no damage to the bowel. IBS is a common condition and can manifest with pain, diarrhea, or constipation in predictable or unpredictable patterns. It is often worsened by stress or emotional factors.

           From a TCM perspective, the condition referred to as IBS is most often a result of an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. This infection arises from the pathogenic factors described in TCM as dampness and heat. These pathogens can invade the body from the external environment or can be generated internally through diet or constitutional factors. Acupuncture is used to resolve dampness and heat in the system through the selection of specific acupuncture points along the meridians of the stomach and large intestine. These points are known to regulate the motility of the bowels, clear pathogenic factors, and strengthen the digestive system to relieve the symptoms of IBS. At the same time, reinforcement techniques are used with additional points to support the immune system and relieve stress, thereby preventing future exacerbation of the disorder.    

Acupuncture for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

           Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the large intestine, causing ulcerations in the intestine and resulting in frequent diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain. Crohn’s is also an inflammatory condition, but it can affect any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to the rectum. Both Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can be caused by a combination of environmental, immune, and bacterial or viral factors.

           The western medical approach to these diseases often includes prescribing corticosteroids to suppress the inflammatory immune response. While this treatment can be relatively effective, many patients suffer from numerous side effects due to corticosteroid use.

           Patients seeking alternative and/or herbal medicine for inflammatory bowel conditions often find significant relief of their symptoms without experiencing side effects. A combination of acupuncture, natural medicine, and dietary/lifestyle recommendations is effective to decrease the inflammatory response and resolve symptoms.

           From a TCM perspective, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis are caused by accumulation of the pathogenic factors of heat and dampness in the system. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine formulas are chosen to clear heat and resolve damp accumulation, thereby treating the root of the problem in addition to relieving the outward symptoms of the conditions.

Because these two diseases are related to the immune response, a primary goal of acupuncture treatment and Chinese herbal medicine is to strengthen the immune system. This holistic healing treatment represents a departure from the western medical treatment, which aims to suppress the immune system with corticosteroids. From the TCM perspective, autoimmune disease is treated by strengthening the system and removing the pathogens that contribute to the immune response. This method of treatment allows for long-term relief while avoiding side effects, and also results in the patient feeling more energy and being more able to avoid other illness in general. This is an example of acupuncture being useful for preventive care at the same time as resolving immediate health concerns. When your immune system is strong, you can avoid developing many of the diseases that cause debilitation over the long term.

Now you know—acupuncture is for more than just pain! Talk to your Acu-Na acupuncturist or holistic healing expert about how you can support your digestive system using natural medicine and acupuncture for your optimal wellness. Call us at 828-974-7058.

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