Good digestion is key to good health. If you think about what takes place during digestion, it is important for food (aka fuel, aka nutrition) to be broken down and absorbed properly in order for our body to get what it needs from our food intake. When our digestive processes are disturbed we miss out on the health benefits from the food we eat. Digestion issues like constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, nausea, crohns and colitis affect our overall health because our bodies are not working well enough to ulitlize the nutrition from the food we eat. The good news is that quite frequently acupuncture can help manage or resolve many digestion problems.

My recent trip to China was an eye opener. Digestive problems like gastritis was very common place. General complaints of stomach discomfort seemed almost universal, whether it was in the internal medicine, gynecology or pain clinics I attended. The doctors used mainly herbal formulas to treat digestive issues, although it was also addressed along with other complaints in the acupuncture clinics.

During my three week stay in China, there were people everywhere, everyplace. It was very crowded. Millions of people in the cities (23 million in Beijing, 20 million people in Shanghai and 8 million in the city of Hangzhou where I studied). Try to imagine Houston growing to accomodate 20 million people within the city itself. Think of how we would incorporate all the people, the cars, the pollution, the apartments and office buildings. Imagine driving with cars, buses, bicycles and motor bikes coming in all directions paying little attention to traffic lights, order or lanes in the street. Your hands would be gripping the steering wheel while focusing on avoiding someone on a bike or another car. In short, it is a very stressful way of life.

In my practice, I have seen how stress affects digestion. Stress can create a blockage in liver energy which disrupts the actions of the liver, spleen and stomach energy. When these channels are disturbed, it can cause the stomach energy to rebel making it flow or move upwards toward the esophagus (ie-gastritis, reflux), rather than the normal path of downward to the intestines (normal BM’s). Stress can also deplete our spleen energy causing us to feel tired, sluggish, bloated and swollen. The liver energy that becomes stuck can cause gas, bloating, abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements and depression. In addition, it is quite common to see concurrent issues of sleep problems, anxiety, low energy and high blood pressure along with digestive problems.

If any of this sounds or feels familiar, you are not alone. If you have struggled with digestive issues, acupuncture might just be what you need to resolve or reduce your problems. When all that Western medicine can do is give you drugs to work on the symptoms, remember that acupuncture may very well have an explanation that does not equate with Western terminology. That results in addressing the problem, even if it has been a life long issue. The bottom line is, if nothing else has worked, you have nothing to lose. Try acupuncture. The worst case scenario is that you feel less stressed. Not too bad…

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