April 23, 2020
Acupuncture offers an excellent natural way of helping with various gastro-intestinal imbalances, such as IBS, food allergies, bloating, acid reflux, intestinal pain, bowel irregularities and more. In traditional Chinese medicine, a healthy function of the digestive system is supported by five main organs that need to work in harmony: stomach, spleen, liver, small and large intestines. Our daily stress levels (please check our dedicated stress article), hormonal variations, seasonal changes in our diet, mixing our foods correctly and regular meal times all play their important role ensuring a smooth digestion. For example, when we feel stressed or/and eat too fast, we become “tight and frozen”, thus compromising our ability to enjoy our meals and digest them properly. Similarly, if you live in a climate with cold and wet climate, you will need to greatly reduce the amount of raw foods when it gets cold, opting for warmer dishes instead (soups, stews, etc.). Our digestive system also plays an important role in our hormonal balance and metabolism, so balancing one can positively affect the other. Acupuncture offers us a gentle non-chemical way to be able to enjoy our foods, efficiently absorbing a maximum amount of nutrients from it and giving us more energy.
While healing and optimising our digestion, Chinese medicine concentrates on supporting the following organs and systems:
1) Stomach and spleen. In Chinese medicine, the role of the stomach is to “rot and ripen” ingested food and drink and to “transport” the received food essences further along the digestive tract. We can view stomach as a small thermo-chemical factory, where the food particles are skilfully broken down into their digestible elements. The spleen aids this transformation and transportation of ingested nutrients, extracting everything useful and converting it into energy (Qi). The spleen loves warm and easily digestible foods and drinks and dislikes the cold. Interestingly, it is also responsible for clear thinking amongst its other many functions and does not like multitasking, this is why some of us might have difficulties with thinking after a heavy meal.
2) Small and large intestines. The small intestine receives digested food and drink from the stomach and separates clean from the dirty. The clean elements get reabsorbed, while the dirty ones are sent to the bladder and large intestine for the excretion. The large intestine is responsible for final stages of transit, receiving transformed food and drink from the small intestine, absorbs the remaining pure food and nourishment and eliminating anything unnecessary.
3) The liver ensures the smooth flow of energy (Qi) throughout our bodies, thus supporting the transformative functions of the stomach and spleen and facilitates the secretion of bile, aiding digestion.
Appropriate TCM treatments for digestive system imbalances:
Acupressure - ✅ (for children)
Acupuncture - ✅
Chinese herbs - ✅
Dietary/Lifestyle advice - ✅
Moxa/Heat lamp - ✅
Qi Gong - ✅
Tuina (meridian massage) - ✅ (for children)
Number of treatments required - 5-10, depending on the severity of symptoms/duration of disease. Additional maintenance/top-up treatments may be advised.
Frequency of treatments - 1-2 times a week, depending on the severity of symptoms/duration of disease.