Gastrointestinal Health

Atlanta Gastrointestinal (GI) Health

Digestive System

Chinese medicine treats GI disorders holistically. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine (CM) employ a variety of techniques to treat GI disorders including acupuncture, herbs, and dietary recommendations. Acupuncture targets points on the body where Qi is not flowing properly and helps regulate bodily processes connected with the gastrointestinal system. For example, boating enthusiasts may be familiar with an acupuncture point (PC-6) that is stimulated by some wristbands worn to prevent and treat nausea associated with sea-sickness. Western Biomedicine (WBM) sees nausea and vomiting as the failure or reversal of normal peristalsis of the esophagus and stomach. CM sees this as counterflow of Stomach Qi, normally flowing downwards. The Pericardium (PC) point on the wrist is one of the points which can help restore the normal downward flow of Stomach Qi in cases of sea-sickness, of side effects from conventional cancer therapy, and even morning sickness.

Herbs are useful for tonifying the intestinal tract, balancing GI flora, and restoring proper function to the digestive system. An example of a pair of Asian herbs illustrating the confluence of CM and WBM may be found at your favorite sushi bar. The sliced raw ginger and wasabi served alongside most raw fish dishes not only add to the aesthetics, but serve an important energetic—and microbial function. CM sees most of the ingredients in sushi as Cold: fish is from the ocean, typically a cold dark place, plus, it’s raw and missing the warmth of cooking, it’s then wrapped in more raw goods from the cold ocean, seaweed, rich in cooling minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Iodine). Because CM is chiefly concerned with establishing balance, this dish wouldn’t be complete without a warm aspect to mitigate the Cold nature of the raw fish and sea vegetable—hence the ginger and wasabi. From a WBM perspective, sushi and raw fish dishes are often teeming with bacteria and parasites; the warm and spicy compounds in ginger and wasabi have been shown to proffer significant antimicrobial effects.

Diet is extremely important in diagnosing and treating GI disorders. As with the example above, diet is a natural extension of the herbal approach and makes the effects of both acupuncture and herbal formulations sustainable and faster acting. Our specialists can perform food allergy tests (IgG & IgE) and recommend a healthy diet for your individual body’s needs. It is the rule rather than the exception that most patients coming for treatment of a chronic disease will have to address diet in order to see real sustainable changes in their health. Often if not the root of the illness, the diet definitely perpetuates it. Even more often, patients believe they are eating “healthy.” While this may be true from the standpoints of an oversimplified and archaic food pyramid or branding and marketing, this usually is not the case with regard to the energetics and/or potential immune reactivity and/or inflammatory response of a given food or eating habits. An example here would be a someone who eats an all organic, locally-grown/raised, non-GMO chicken salad wrap. The energetic nature of chicken in CM is very warming and tightening. If this person is diagnosed with some sort of Heat condition in Chinese medicine, and is shown to be allergic or sensitive to wheat or chicken with functional lab testing, and they’re very stressed out, on-the-go, and it’s summertime in Georgia, this would be a meal that would be conducive to promoting further GI distress and anxiety on several accounts. This would especially be the case if this person is eating this meal without first eating a wholesome nourishing breakfast and is eating this chicken salad wrap while driving and conducting a conference call on his cell phone. Both CM and WBM would conclude that both the food and the eating habit/format would lead to trouble.

Some cramps can be crippling

Chinese medicine can treat a wide variety of health conditions. Some of the GI disorders that can be treated with acupuncture include:

  • Functional Bowel Diseases (including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Non-ulcer Dyspepsia)
  • Postoperative Ileus
  • Achalasia
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease
  • Diarrhea / Constipation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Expulsion of Gallstones and Biliary Ascariasis
  • Pain Associated with Pancreatitis
  • Indigestion / Heartburn / Acid Reflux / GERD
  • Cramping
  • Gas / Bloating
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Small Bowell Obstruction
  • Diabetes

Click here to watch a video on Acupuncture and Crohn’s Disease.

Each body part, each organ, and even each symptom in the body can be described in terms of Yin and Yang. Levels of Yin and Yang are constantly changing in the body.

It is rare for one of these states of imbalance to exist by itself. Excesses and deficiencies of Yin and Yang almost always appear in combination. For example, in IBS, the symptom of loose watery or mucusy stools shows an excess of Yin, but if the patient feels a burning sensation along with the loose stools, this indicates an additional excess of Yang. In treating the overall pattern of disharmony, the CM practitioner uses acupuncture and Chinese herbs to address all specific imbalances of Yin and Yang. To look at the body as an integrated whole, one also looks at the theory of the Internal Organs. The CM definition of an Internal Organ is very different from the Western concept. In WBM, an organ is a material-anatomical structure. In CM, each Internal Organ encompasses much more; there is also an anatomical structure, but there is also a corresponding, emotion, tissue, sensory organ, color, season, and element. In addition, 12 of the Internal Organs correspond to the 12 main acupuncture meridians (or channels) that run through the body. There is Qi flowing through each meridian. If an Internal Organ is out of balance, the Qi of that organ will be impaired. Therefore, the CM Large Intestine (capitalized to distinguish it as the organ understood in CM) should not be equated with the WBM large intestine organ. IBS affects the large and small intestines in WBM, but in CM, the Spleen, Liver, Kidney, and Large Intestine can all play a role in the pattern of disharmony.

Yin Yang

At Atlanta Acupuncture, we specialize in GI disorders and treating the root of your health problems, not just the symptoms. Please contact us to schedule a personal consultation.

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