Acupuncture has a long history of use, and tremendous benefits can be gained from this medicine. When I mention acupuncture, most people have the notion that it only treats muscle tension and pain. While acupuncture does treat this, it’s also effective with many other health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as being able to treat over 50 common disorders. This month I want to focus on the success of treating digestive ailments with acupuncture and botanical prescriptions.
The scope of digestive complaints is quite broad, and includes indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, ulcers, food sensitivities, nausea, Crohn’s disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. To improve these ailments it’s important to remember that healthy food choices are a pillar of digestive, as well as overall, health. Digestive complaints are commonly caused by lifestyle factors and a longstanding improper diet. Some basic recommendations are to avoid fried or greasy food, artificial flavors/colours, excess alcohol, white flour products, and too many sweets, which all put a strain on the digestive system. Individualized changes in these lifestyle factors and diet modification are often integrated into the acupuncture course of treatment to correct the imbalances and regulate digestion.
Digestion starts with chewing thoroughly so that our food is completely mixed with saliva and digestive enzymes — many people are in a rush to finish their meal and consume food too quickly, which places an extra burden on the stomach. I recommend lightly steamed or stir fried foods as a basic starting point, as well as not combining too many different foods together. Also, digestive disorders may indicate a more significant health imbalance. Emotionally, digestive symptoms are often due to chronic stress, anxiety and worry. Specific acupuncture points increase gastrointestinal muscle contraction and relaxation and regulate gastric acid secretion, making acupuncture beneficial in treating general gastrointestinal symptoms. In conjunction with botanical medicine and stress reduction techniques, acupuncture can nourish related organs, minimize symptoms and contribute to medication-free digestive system health maintenance.
Another common side effect of poor diet is that it creates inflammation in the body. Although this starts in the digestive system, it can manifest elsewhere as arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, and some autoimmune disorders. Our ancestors didn’t eat genetically modified or processed foods, and the modern diet could benefit from that simple wisdom.
Throughout its long history of use, Chinese medicine has harnessed the healing properties of herbs by combining them together to make a compound herbal formula. This allows the herbs to work in synergy, augmenting their overall efficacy. The versatility of these herbs is not only in managing current health challenges, but also in preventing problems before they occur. There are some very efficacious herbs to be used to improve most digestive complaints, and when combined with acupuncture and changes in lifestyle, they comprise a potent health care plan.
Registered traditional Chinese medicine practitioners Paul Gaucher and his wife, Dove Sprout, co-own Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health. They work at Full Circle Health Centre, which also offers physiotherapy, chiropractic and counselling services. For more information, call the clinic at 250-402-2044. For questions about acupuncture and herbal medicine, contact Gaucher at email@example.com.