Digestive disorders are extremely responsive to acupuncture and herbal treatments. Your digestive issue may range from mild (occasional constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, etc.) to severe where symptoms can get in the way of daily life, such as in cases of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. While the symptoms and causes of these conditions range and vary widely, proper diagnosis and treatment by your acupuncturist can help treat these ailments effectively.
The digestive system is one of two major energy sources for our bodies. While our lungs take in air to convert oxygen to energy, our digestive system takes in food to distribute nutrients and energy throughout the body. In Eastern Medicine, the digestive system and its energies are considered to serve a crucial role in our well-being, from distributing nutrients to producing blood and aiding circulation, and holding organs and blood in place to prevent prolapse, to name just a few. Needless to say, the digestive system is an extremely important part of our system and many of the health issues seen in practice (not only specific digestive disorders) arise from a weakness and dysfunction of the digestive organs.
One of the major strengths of acupuncture is that we are able to diagnose and treat disease before it actually occurs. For example, you may not know that you are prone to getting stomach ulcers or even have ulcers until you actually have an ulcer and are able to see the results from an endoscopy. But since diseases are seen as patterns in Eastern Medicine, we can address the issue of ulcers or potential ulcers before they form. Even though there may not be something “wrong” with your digestion as can be shown on a lab test, certain patterns will show that your digestion may not be at its optimum…which possibly can lead to problems down the road. You may not have a “full-blown” ulcer at the moment, but most likely there is a “heat pattern,” as we would be able to tell by your tongue and pulse (a few of the diagnostic tools used in our medicine). Some other symptoms of such a heat pattern could be heartburn, indigestion, constipation, or headaches. Or maybe the heat pattern is a result of high stress or even related to your menstrual cycle or menopause in females. As you can see from just this one example, the body is not one-dimensional nor can it be compartmentalized. A holistic view is necessary to properly address the condition and the reason for that specific condition.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disease today where patients experience abdominal pain, bloating, and fluctuation of bowel movements from constipation to diarrhea. Such conditions where there are no organic causes respond very well to acupuncture. As stated above in the first example, although nothing is noticeably wrong that can be shown through testing, different energies and factors contribute to the symptoms of IBS. In many cases of IBS, the condition/pattern can be diagnosed as “Liver Qi Stagnation.” That may seem odd to you (“why is the liver involved?”) but remember that the organs that we work with are not only physiological but also energetic in origin. As we treat the root of the problem (Liver Qi Stagnation) and work on the branch (symptoms of IBS), you’ll notice not only a significant relief in symptoms but also a longer-lasting period of remission/prevention or better yet, a complete lack of symptoms!
Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases where there is significant swelling and irritation of the colon (large intestine) causing multiple bowel movements a day, loose stools, and even bleeding. This, obviously, takes a toll not only on your digestion but your entire system. Conventional treatments mainly consist of anti-inflammatory agents which some patients respond to for some period of time depending on the individual. If the incessant bowel movements and bleeding are not controlled, patients need to hospitalized and monitored. These complex cases are usually difficult to treat because of the changing symptoms. Responsiveness to medication can be inconsistent and patients can grow very fatigued as their systems gradually become more and more depleted. Acupuncture and herbal treatments can adjust to these changing symptoms effectively and can help reduce inflammation and bowel movements, stop bleeding, and help restore health to the entire body. However, because of the inconsistent nature of the disease, patience and consistent treatment are key to wellness.
Indigestion, constipation, heartburn/GERD, diarrhea can be treated effectively with acupuncture and herbal treatments as well. You may experience these symptoms daily, weekly, or even monthly. Whatever the case may be, these signs are your body’s way of telling you that something is out of balance. It is important not to ignore these signs. As with all diseases, the faster you address and treat your issues, the quicker and easier the path to recovery. Don’t ignore your body’s messages! For example, most people think that “food coma” is a normal thing — you come back from lunch and by 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon, you are mentally and physically crashing at work. What you ate may be to blame, but most people with recurring food coma are experiencing these symptoms because of an unhealthy, less-than-optimal digestive system. This may be the result of various patterns (there’s that word again!), the most common one seen in practice being Spleen Qi Deficiency. This particular deficiency can cause dampness. This, as the word suggests, can cause a physical sensation of heaviness or bloating, or even mentally where your head feels foggy. It is crucial to address even these seemingly minor symptoms to prevent more serious, chronic conditions and to maintain well-being.
I saw Sou Yeong for the first time and got immediate relief of my IBS symptoms. I’ve been pretty healthy all my life but starting last year my body just fell apart. I’m a mother with three kids so I can’t afford to be sick. My constipation was so bad that I had not gone to the bathroom for at least two week! Even during the treatment I could feel things digesting and moving around in my tummy. That very same day I was able to go to the bathroom successfully. Boy, did I feel better after that! I felt like all the toxins stuck in my body had been released. I see Sou Yeong on a regular basis now and since that first treatment, my BMs are completely regular and I feel lighter and healthier. She’s been helping with my gynecological problems and energy too. Thanks so much for all your help!