Healing Digestive Disorders Using Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine the earth element is the system primarily responsible for healthy digestion.  The earth reflects the stability of the ground and nourishment imparted from its soil.  It provides structure and security.   The “Qi” or energy from the food we eat is essential to our bodies functioning at their optimum level!

When our bodies become out of balance due to internal or external pathological influences, our digestion can be negatively affected.   STRESS can attack our stable earth element causing digestive disturbances including ulcers, diarrhea, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and acid reflux among other illness’.  Our digestive system can also become weak and unhealthy from eating a diet of excess fast food, meat and dairy products, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, and carbohydrates or sugars.  Other disorders that can be readily treated using Chinese medicine include indigestion, diverticulitis, constipation, parasites, candidae, gastritis, nausea, fecal incontinence, Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, anal spasms, hiatial hernia, and other disorders.

Frequently my patients present with complaints of severe abdominal pain and cramping, irregular bowel movements, gas and bloating, and nausea.  The first inquiries I always make in these cases include asking about their diet and any changes to it when their symptoms began.  Often, patients have added more fiber in the form of bars, powders, cluster-type or granola cereals, raw nuts, and sulfur-preserved dried fruits. Coffee is commonly a trigger as well.  Removing these convenient “health” foods, fiber supplements, and stimulants generally solves their problems within a couple of days.  If a patient has weak digestion to begin with, they will not be able to process these foods effectively and without problematic symptoms.  Of course fiber in one’s diet is extremely important for many reasons, but try it in the form of peaches, plums, cooked green beans, steamed carrots, hummus, rice, and other foods without labels!

Frequently patients who come to me with digestive complaints have had costly abdominal scans and been put on antibiotics or medications that suppress stomach acid.  Excess use of antibiotics has been shown to lead to overgrowth of candidae and extended use of antacids suppresses stomach acid that actually functions in healthy levels to destroy unwanted bacteria, virus’, and fungi.   These treatments can sometimes provide temporary results, but exacerbate or make one’s symptoms worse in the long run.  At times, use of western medications may be warranted and recommended, but I would make sure that your health care practicioner has reviewed your dietary habits with you first.

Chinese dietary therapy recommends eating primarily a diet of cooked foods including vegetables, grains, proteins, and fruits.  Your acupuncturist should include a discussion of healthy eating specifically for your individual constitution at your initial visit.  If you are being treated specifically for a digestive disorder, this discussion should be extensive and include suggestions of foods to avoid and include in your daily diet.  Acupuncture and the use of Chinese herbal prescriptions are also extremely effective methods to use in conjunction with nutritional therapy to address many types of digestive illness’.