Acupuncture for Digestive Disorders

Acupuncture and Digestive Disorders

The digestive system is responsible for supporting and regulating food from the time of eating, to the absorption of nutrients, to the removal through waste. Think of these organs as a group of actors in a theatre troupe that work tirelessly day in and day out to put on a show. Different elements work together as a system to produce a function or a final performance. Our digestive system works like this – with various elements working together to convert food into energy in order to send it throughout our whole body.

The Basics

When food is consumed, it passes through a long tube inside the body known as the gastrointestinal tract (GI). This “stage” has main organs in place ready to act. It’s made up of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines.

The functions of the secondary characters – or in this case the accessory organs – are also vital to our main organs. Our teeth, tongue, salivary glands, gallbladder, liver and pancreas play a supporting role to ensure the entirety of the group is functioning at its optimal level.

These accessory organs carry out six major functions:

  • food ingestion
  • food secretion –through gastric juices into the stomach
  • mixing and movement –that happens as a result of smooth muscle contractions
  • digestion and nutrient extraction
  • blood flow –which affects the absorption of nutrients into the blood
  • excretion –which allows the body to expel the food waste out of our bodies

Emotional and Physical Stress

The success of the final show is contingent on the existing conditions the group is working under. Our organs similarlywork together in an intricate process that is environment-sensitive. If there’s any kind of prolonged emotional stress, this can affect the physical output ofour organs as the body has to work harder to deliver the adequate levels of energy.

Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, which is composed of hundreds of millions of nerves. These nerves communicate within the central nervous system to send signals to the brain if there are any threats.

When we experience prolonged periods of emotional stress, we stay in our “fight or flight” response. This directly impacts our digestive system by way of our muscle contractions and it also affects our blood flow that is responsible for carrying and absorbing nutrients. A decrease in bicarbonate secretions can also cause higher levels of stomach acid. This causes inflammation in the GI tract and weakening of the digestive system.

Continuous inflammation leads to:

  • Symptoms of food intolerance – which include vomiting, bloating, abdominal pain and cramps, headaches, heartburn and irritability
  • GERD – frequent and excessive heartburn
  • Reactions from your colon like diarrhea, constipation and intestinal disorders such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Worsening of existing malaise in the body like stomach ulcers, celiac disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Other serious conditions like rapid weight loss, continuous vomiting, bloody stools, and painful and uncomfortable experiences post-eating

How can acupuncture help?

ST36 (Zu San Li) – Located below the kneecap on the Stomach meridian, this pressure point when released can greatly strengthen one’s energy and boost the immune system. This is necessary for healing digestive disorders like diarrhea, gas, bloating, vomiting and nausea.

RN-12 (Zhong Wan) – Located in the “middle cavity” along the Ren meridian; specifically, where the energy of the stomach gathers and collects water and food to convert it into nutrients.

Intensified and prolonged emotions can damage the function of thisthe stomach leading to all symptoms presented above. By releasing this pressure point, you’re improving this important stage in the digestive system that dictates how efficiently food nutrients are absorbed.

ST-25 (TianShu) – Located where the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract meet and interact along the Stomach meridian. Blockages from build-up of excretions can occur here when the muscles are not moving properly due to lack of blood flow in the abdominal area. Applying acupressure at this point can help to alleviate constipation, diarrhea, intestinal disorders, and menstrual-related issues.

Contact us today for more information on how acupuncture can help with digestive disorders.