Happy National IBS Awareness Month!!! Yup, that’s right, April is not only the time for beautiful weather, spring flower blooms, and Easter celebration, it is also the time to reconsider your bowel health- YAY! It also happens to be National Humor Month, which makes reading this article a little more entertaining.
Currently, one in five adults in the US has one form or another of IBS, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That’s somewhere around 43 million people! And that number doesn’t even come close to describing the untold millions of people experiencing the other increasingly common digestive disorders- Chron’s Disease, GERD (severe heartburn or acid reflux), Ulcerative Colitis, or dietary sensitivities (gluten or dairy intolerance, food allergies, etc).
These digestive disorders can present with a range of obvious digestive problems such as upper or lower abdominal pain or cramping, bloating or intestinal gas, nausea or vomiting, a feeling of fullness, chronic constipation or diarrhea, blood in the stool, a feeling of “incompletion” or difficulty to pass stool, acid reflux (also known as heartburn), food sensitivities or allergies, etc. But they can also lead to systemic imbalances that begin to show up with signs like fatigue, joint pain and systemic inflammation, anemia, frequent colds and flus, allergies, skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis or other dermatitis, and more.
Unfortunately, most people suffering with IBS or other digestive disorders assume that their digestive problem is “incurable” and they’re doomed to either suffer or take meds for the rest of their lives- usually because that’s what their doctors have told them…SIGH. Well, I’m happy to announce that that’s just plain ol’ not true! In my experience and the experience of many other Acupuncturists out there, the vast majority of digestive disorders are absolutely treatable and in many cases, curable- and it can be done without prescription medications.
So how in the world can acupuncture help digestion? Well, first we’ve got to clear up a little confusion: digestive disorders are usually not just digestive disorders. They usually indicate an overall health imbalance. Frequently the result of chronically high stress levels or years of improper dietary habits- such as the use of soy products, highly processed industrial seed oils (canola, safflower, etc.), refined sugar and grains, etc.- that put a strain on the digestive system and, over the years, eventually develop into full-blown digestive disorders… and the beginning of a vicious cycle.
This vicious cycle occurs when a chronic digestive disorder results in a inflammation and a reduction in digestive efficacy and efficiency- which they virtually always do. If you’re showing any signs of digestive problems, it’s an indication that there’s probably intestinal inflammation and likely some degree of what’s called “Leaky-gut syndrome,” where large food particles and foreign material leaks through the intestinal lining and your body is forced to mount an immune reaction which leads to more inflammation and more food sensitivities.
Another vicious cycle begins when all of that irritation in your gut results in a reduced ability to properly break down food, which in turn means your body isn’t as able to absorb and utilize nutrients properly, which eventually leads to some degree of malnutrition. And that was just a description of the lower half, we havn’t even begun to touch on breakdowns in the upper half of the digestive process!
So what happens after all that inflammation and mal-absorption of nutrients gets rollin’? Well, the nutrients that your body is supposed to be able to get from the food you eat are critical for supporting every aspect of your health. Nutrients are the building blocks for what your body converts into strength, repair, defense, and maintenance of the whole system. If you’re either not giving your body the right sources of nutrients (check out Top 10 Dietary Guidelines for more info on THAT), or your body cannot properly absorb nutrients because of a digestive disorder, the eventual malnutrition (and let’s not forget the rampant inflammation and over-stressed immune system) leads to a whole host of other problems system-wide, including the inability to repair and defend itself, keep you happy and healthy, and least of all- regulate digestive function…aaaaand we’re back to square one with that vicious cycle.
This is where Acupuncture comes in.
Specific acupuncture points on the body are well-known to reduce abdominal pain, bloating and intestinal inflammation, increase gastrointestinal strength, regulate stomach acid secretion, stop chronic diarrhea, or increase bowel movements in the case of chronic constipation. It basically regulates overall digestive function- and it does so with zero negative side effects. A good acupuncturist will also be highly-educated in regards to any supplemental support that may be helpful for you and will be able to guide your towards the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes that are critical in stopping the vicious cycle. Over time, the acupuncture treatments combined with your body’s increased ability to receive and absorb nutrients, will assist your system in re-balancing itself and repairing the damage in your gut.
Acupuncture is highly effective in treating most digestive disorders including: IBS, Chron’s Disease, food allergies and sensitivities, chronic constipation/diarrhea, ulcers, heartburn, GERD, lactose intolerance and more. In fact, the NIH (National Institute of Health) and the WHO (World Health Organization) have recognized Acupuncture as being effective for treating over 56 common health complaints!
They also recognized that, “One of the advantages of Acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions…such as anti-inflammatory medications and steriod injections [for pain], and the evidence supporting these conventional therapies is no better than that for Acupuncture.”
All in all, Acupuncture provides an extremely safe, highly effective and a completely natural approach to regaining and maintaining optimum digestive health and restoring strength and harmony to your body.
This information brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood Austin Acupuncturist, Melanie Irvine, L.Ac., MAOM, owner Turning Point Wellness. For more info about how Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, and natural nutrition can help you achieve vibrant health and well-being. Feel free to visit my website, www.TurningPointAcupuncture.net for more details and direct contact information.