Most people don’t think about acupuncture when trying to fix problems of the digestive system, including acid reflux, nausea, diarrhea, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic gastritis, and constipation. However, acupuncture can be very effective in helping resolve these problems. For stress-induced symptoms, acupuncture relaxes the sympathetic nervous system to allow your digestion to function normally. Acupuncture also can stimulate your body to resume secreting the proper amount of digestive juices and hormones, so that your food is broken down and absorbed properly. The symptoms (pain, nausea, diarrhea) can be alleviated, while simultaneously targeting the cause of those symptoms so they do not return. In Chinese Medicine, if the digestive system is not functioning well, good health cannot be attained. A typical treatment for digestion usually involves acupuncture and moxibustion. The length of treatment varies based on your specific condition, but most people notice improvements by the third acupuncture treatment.
Over the last 2000+ years, the Chinese have carefully observed what foods and practices lead to good digestive and overall health. Here are a few tips in addition to an acupuncture treatment:
- Do not overeat sweet, spicy, or greasy foods.
Cold foods (ice water, ice cream, frozen drinks) sap energy from the body. Room temperature foods and drinks are best.
- Steam or cook your vegetables and go easy on the salads – raw vegetables are difficult to digest, and will sap energy from your body over time. Eat meals at the same time everyday.
- Eating late at night (especially after 9 or 10pm) will weaken your digestion (and make for a bad night’s sleep!)
- Dairy can exacerbate sinus and chest congestion, as well as asthma
- A variety of flavors helps to balance the body. Some examples:
sweet: carrots, apples
sour: vinegar, lemon juice, plums
spicy: Black pepper, garlic, onion, cloves
salty: salt, seaweed
bitter: bok choy, kale, coffee
- Eat in moderation: stop before you are painfully full, and drink alcohol in moderation.
Cheryl House, L. Ac., DACM, FABORM