Proper digestion a cornerstone of establishing and maintaining optimal health, and includes assimilation of nutrients, exclusion of pathogens, and timely elimination of waste. Most people experience digestive issues from time to time, but in cases where the symptoms become frequent or chronic, there may be a larger issue that needs to be addressed. Gastrointestinal disorders such as indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux, gastritis, ulcers, colitis, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, and IBS, along with gallbladder problems and liver disorders including hepatitis and cirrhosis, affect millions of people, and encompass a wide variety of symptoms including stomach pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. Causes can be widespread and may include emotional stress, poor dietary and lifestyle habits, antibiotics or drug use, toxin exposure, viruses, and bacteria and parasites, to name a few. In addition to gastrointestinal symptoms, poor digestion, impairment of intestinal functions, and malabsorption of vital nutrients can contribute to degenerative diseases, compromised immune function and nutritional deficiencies giving rise to fatigue, systemic illnesses and inflammation, autoimmune disease, toxic overload, allergies, skin problems, insomnia, and more. Broadly speaking, the Western approach to treatment of gastrointestinal disorders tends to address digestive symptoms with medications such as antacids, antibiotics, steroids, laxatives, etc., and more radical procedures, including surgical intervention if symptoms persist. Oriental medicine, on the other hand, focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of the problem rather than resorting to medications which provide only temporary symptom relief.
Oriental medicine has successfully treated digestive disorders for thousands of years, typically employing a strategy combining acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional therapy. Once the underlying cause at the root of the condition is identified and diagnosed, this approach to treatment address the problem in a manner which not only provides lasting relief, but prevents symptom recurrence by improving digestion, absorption, and metabolism.
Acupuncture works by assisting the digestive energy required for healthy absorption and elimination, improves the assimilation of nutrients, balances the function of sorting nutrients from waste, and even addresses overeating and sugar addiction. Additionally, herbal formulas are used to address individual symptoms as well as treat underlying root patterns, strengthen the digestive system, reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, kill bacteria, virus, fungus, and parasites; alleviate heartburn and acid reflux, regulate the bowels, and reduce abdominal pain and discomfort. If one’s digestive system is too weak to tolerate herbal remedies, a course of gentle acupuncture treatments may be used to gradually fortify the digestive system.
Yet another key aspect of the Chinese medical approach to addressing digestive complaints lies in implementing nutritional changes essential to supporting digestive health, along with lifestyle changes which involve some form of stress reduction, like yoga, meditation, exercise, etc. for maximum therapeutic effect. Such a combined approach can help reduce abdominal pain and distension, neutralize excessive stomach acid, normalize digestive and bowel function, reduce or completely eliminate IBS symptoms, and address overeating and sugar addictions, making it an extremely effective treatment of choice for various digestive complaints.
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