More than 95 million Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In fact, more than 35 million physician office visits a year are due to gastrointestinal complaints. Reports confirm that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer relief from even the most complex digestive problems.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Digestive Disorders
Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain and diarrhea with pain are discussed.
According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking 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). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ; the premise being that the proper functioning of the”‘middle” is the key to all aspects of vitality.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders including:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
While other patterns may be present, IBS is typically considered a disharmony between the liver and the spleen meridians in Oriental medicine. Oriental medicine views the spleen meridian as being associated with the function of digestion and transforming food into energy (Qi and blood). This can be weakened by a number of factors including overeating unhealthy foods, overwork, stress, fatigue, and lack of exercise.
When the spleen meridian is weak and the liver meridian is not moving smoothly, the liver overacts on the spleen and can manifest as symptoms of IBS. Symptoms can be managed by avoiding overeating, exercise, identifying trigger foods and reducing stress.
Acid Reflux Disease
A study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Gastrointestinal and Liver (2005) indicates that stimulation of certain acupuncture points inhibits esophageal sphincter relaxations by as much as 40 percent.
The American Physiological Society opened eyes by pointing to the effectiveness of electrical acupuncture point stimulation in reducing the key mechanism of GERD, transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs). This important muscle allows food to pass into the stomach when working normally.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can relieve symptoms, provide relief from nausea and vomiting, hasten recovery by assisting the body to eliminate the pathogen faster, and strengthen the digestive system to prevent any re-occurrences or development of a chronic immune disorder. After acute symptoms subside, acupuncture treatments focus on strengthening the digestive system and improving energy levels to bring about a full recovery.
By taking into account a person’s constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan is designed specifically for the individual to bring their “middle” back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system. A variety of techniques can be used during treatment including acupuncture, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore digestive health.
Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could?
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