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Digestive Health

5 Reasons Acupuncture Helps With Digestive Function 


Healthy digestive function is essential for maintaining one’s health and having the ongoing energy to participate in daily life in a steady and grounded way. When digestion is working properly the food that we intake is broken down and nutrients are provided to all our cells for healing, sustenance, and energy production. The digestive system is also critical for detoxifying the body by providing an exit route for unwanted waste material. Digestive disorders are rampant in the United States. Surveys estimate nearly 70 million people in the United States are affected by some sort of digestive disorder. This could be anything from gallstones to acid reflux to pancreatitis. For many, these disorders are extremely debilitating. But for every person dealing with a debilitating digestive disorder, there are thousands more that just assume everything they are experiencing is “normal.” 

Acupuncture and the Gut-brain-axis 

Acupuncture helps by balancing the gut-brain axis and the nervous system to reduce stress, which in turn improves digestive function.  One of the side effects of an overactive sympathetic nervous system is decreased digestive function. the vagus nerve, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” function and heart rhythm, can be affected which leads to stress in the gut. Without the parasympathetic influence, that the vagus nerve brings to our body, digestive and emotional imbalances are created. 

Acupuncture also help reduce pain and inflammation which helps regulate stomach acid and promote peristalsis.   


Chinese herbs are often used for digestive issues, either alone or in conjunction with acupuncture treatments.  They are taken internally and work to adjust digestion like food supplements or diet modification.  Common herbs like ginger and licorice can help improve digestion and have been used for hundreds of years by many cultures around the world.


Together, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help with the following digestive issues (and others):

•    Bloating

•    Constipation

•    Diarrhea

•    Nausea and vomiting

•    Abdominal pain

•    IBS

•    Crohn’s disease

•    Acid reflux

•    Ulcerative colitis

•    Malabsorption/Leaky Gut

•    Bacterial infections

•    Peptic ulcers

•    Heartburn

•    Lactose intolerance

•    Gastrointestinal tract bleeding

•    Inflammatory conditions

•    Hiatus hernia syndrome


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the digestive system includes the Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine, and Small Intestine. If any of these organ systems are out of balance then the impact can be felt throughout our digestive process. The symptoms that we can experience range from nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, distention and edema to unclear thinking and difficulty with sleep. 

These four organs and their functional ability also operate as a foundation for the other organ systems by transforming the nutrients that are later made into qi and blood which feed all of the tissues and the body as a whole. If you suffer from digestive disorder then this weakened foundation can slowly fail to create the qi and blood that your body needs to feel strong and capable. 


5 Reasons Acupuncture Can Help With Digestive Function:


1.    Acupuncture helps with digestion because it treats the person holistically, meaning all parts are considered when treatment is rendered. There is no compartmentalizing as in Western medicine. The connection to the mind and body are key components to understanding and treating digestive disorders.


2.    Studies have shown acupuncture can stimulate peristalsis in the intestinal tract. This is very helpful for people who deal with chronic constipation. In as few as one to two treatments, a person suffering from chronic constipation may find relief. 


3.    Nausea and vomiting are another frequent problem associated with digestion. Acupuncture and even acupressure are wonderful tools for calming the upset stomach that also involves pain. One acupressure point on the underside of the forearm has been studied extensively just for this function. In most cases, the nausea and vomiting are greatly decreased or stopped altogether.


4.    Bloating is another common problem associated with the digestive tract. This can be caused by eating too much food or improper digestion. Acupuncture treatments help the digestive process of breaking down foods without the excess gas that frequently causes bloating.


5.     Diarrhea isn’t just a problem that occurs when somebody is suffering from the stomach flu. In fact, it is much more common than many people think. Acupuncture treatments can help resolve diarrhea by clearing either excess heat or excess dampness from the digestive tract, while also strengthening it.

What the research says

•    A growing body of literature continues to support the efficacy of acupuncture for alleviating adverse gastrointestinal symptoms associated with various GI disorders. Current evidence indicates the potential for acupuncture to treat GI disorders through regulating intestinal motility, reducing visceral sensitivity, antagonizing intestinal inflammation, and modulating neuroendocrine mechanisms involved in the gut-brain axis.

If you’re suffering from ANY digestive issue, acupuncture and herbal medicine is a great way to resolve it by addressing both the symptoms and the root. TCM food therapy is often included in the treatment protocol as well. By looking at your current diet, I can suggest changes that will help facilitate healing and will be better for your particular constitution.


Click on our link for information about supplements and herbs for your digestive health. 


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