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Natural Health Approach: Acupuncture and Digestion

By Paul Gaucher, co-owner of Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre
Acupuncture can be used to treat digestion ailments. (Pixabay)

By Paul Gaucher, co-owner of Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre

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 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.

For more serious digestive ailments, bone broth soups are an amazing addition to your diet. The soup is an optimal source of collagen, a protein that forms the tissue that lines your gastrointestinal tract. The collagen in bone broth can both strengthen and improve the functioning of mucous membranes, preventing small gaps from forming that allow chemicals and food particles to leak out into the bloodstream. Consequently, consuming adequate amounts of collagen reduces your risk of developing leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. In fact, research shows that people with chronic irritable bowel syndrome produce less collagen naturally, so taking it in through their diets is integral for maintaining healthy levels. These natural compounds will generally enhance the digestive process so that you suffer less from stomach problems like bloating, diarrhea, acid reflux, and constipation. Collagen also produces gelatin, which is a thick substance that helps your digestive system deal with foods that might otherwise trigger allergies or sensitivities like lactose and gluten.

Another common side effect of poor diet is that it creates inflammation in the body. Although this starts in the digestive system, it manifests elsewhere as arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, Alzheimer’s disease, and some autoimmune disorders. Our ancestors didn’t eat GMOs or processed foods, and the modern diet could benefit from that simple wisdom.

Over the years, Chinese medicine has harnessed the healing properties of many different herbs. 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 herbal remedies to be used to improve most digestive complaints, and when combined with acupuncture and changes in lifestyle, they comprise a potent health care plan.

Paul Gaucher and Dove Sprout co-own and operate Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Centre located at 219 10 Ave. N. For more information or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-428-0488. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, e-mail or check out

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