Stress, working lunches, eating on the run, fast food—no wonder so many Americans have digestive problems. I have seen a lot of patients with bad digestion during my many years as an acupuncturist, and I am often amazed at how well they respond to a few treatments. Most functional digestive problems will improve significantly during a course of treatments—say 5 or 10. How does acupuncture accomplish this? We can explain in 2 ways.
- 1) Acupuncture improves the functioning of the nervous system and its regulation of the organs of digestion. Exactly how is still being explored. It appears to reprogram the nervous system, balancing the production of neurotransmitters and hormones.
- 2) Acupuncture releases blockages in the flow of vital energy, called “chi” in Chinese. This is the traditional explanation. Think of the stomach as a light bulb. The wires are damaged and the flow of electricity is disrupted, so the bulb flickers or dims. What if the bulb goes out? Well, the analogy only goes so far. But the body works like this. Like wires in a house, there are channels of energy flow in the body called “meridians.” When the flow of energy is blocked to the digestive organs, they do not function properly, and we develop symptoms of disease. Blockages occur for a number of reasons, but acupuncture releases them, reenergizing the organs and restoring their health.
Functional digestive problems respond best. “Functional” means there is a disharmony between the organs and nervous system–no associated tissue changes can be found.
Some functional problems that respond well are sluggish digestion, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea & vomiting, GERD (acid reflux), diarrhea, and constipation. I have had pretty good luck treating all of these, and I’ve helped many people with IBS.
Naturally, the diet might need to be cleaned up as well.
If there is tissue damage, as in Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, acupuncture can help correct the underlying imbalance of energy flow and promote healing, but it will need to be combined with western medicine or Chinese herbal medicine.
Seeing is believing. I invite you to read some testimonials kindly written by past patients who had digestive issues.