Stickin’ it Tue You: Acupuncture For Relief of GI Problems

What Type of GI Disorders Can Acupuncture Treat?

Here is a list:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Acid Reflux / GERD
Spastic Colon
Food Allergies
Abdominal Bleeding

How Does Acupuncture Help?

Acid Reflux, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES: a ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that acts like a valve between the esophagus and stomach) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus (the muscular membranous tube for the passage of food from the throat to the stomach).

When refluxed stomach acid touches the lining of the esophagus, it causes a burning sensation in the chest or throat called heartburn. The fluid may even be tasted in the back of the mouth, and this is called acid indigestion. Occasional heartburn is common but does not necessarily mean one has GERD. Heartburn that occurs more than twice a week may be considered GERD, and it can eventually lead to more serious health problems. Unfortunately no one knows why people get GERD. A hiatal hernia may contribute and others such as stress, alcohol use, overweight, pregnancy, smoking, and certain foods can be associated with reflux events.

In the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, GERD often occurs when there is dysfunction of the Stomach system due to disharmony between the Liver system and the Stomach system or other causes. Acupuncture can help with GERD by stimulating certain acupuncture points to reduce transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations (TLESRs: the time that LES stays open or relaxed) and regulate gastric secretions, gastric motility, hormone, and neuropeptide release and metabolism. Acupuncture can be safely used in conjunction with conventional treatments such as medication to help you better manage the symptoms overall.

IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome): Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized most commonly by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress, but it does not permanently harm the intestines and does not lead to a serious disease, such as cancer. Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management, and prescribed medications. For some people, however, IBS can be disabling. They may be unable to work, attend social events, or even travel short distances.

As many as 20 percent of the adult population, or one in five Americans, have symptoms of IBS, making it one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. It occurs more often in women than in men, and it begins before the age of 35 in about 50 percent of people. Researchers have yet to discover any specific cause for IBS. One theory is that people who suffer from IBS have a colon, or large intestine, that is particularly sensitive and reactive to certain foods and stress. The immune system, which fights infection, may also be involved.

Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Panel and the World Health Organization (WHO), using different criteria, have identified many conditions as appropriate for acupuncture treatments, including several that are directly related with IBS such as abdominal pain, muscle cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. In addition, acupuncture has also been found effective as a means of stress reduction, and at addressing related problems that often triggers IBS symptoms. In the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the cause of IBS vary greatly form person to person. The Stomach and the Intestines are usually the main organ systems affected. The causative factors can be emotional stress, improper diet, and constitutional Spleen/Stomach deficiency. Over time, these factors can cause mild to severe dysfunction of the Spleen, Stomach, Intestines, Liver, and the Kidney systems causing various IBS symptoms.

Its many manifestations require very different treatment approaches. Acupuncture, herbal therapy, or a combination treatment can help by regulating gastric secretions, gastric motility, hormone, and neuropeptide release and metabolism.

Gastritis: Gastritis is not a single disease, but several different conditions that all have inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can be caused by drinking too much alcohol, prolonged use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or infection with bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Sometimes gastritis develops after major surgery, traumatic injury, burns, or severe infections. Certain diseases, such as pernicious anemia, autoimmune disorders, and chronic bile reflux, can cause gastritis as well.

The most common symptoms are abdominal upset or pain. Other symptoms are belching, abdominal bloating, nausea, and vomiting or a feeling of fullness or of burning in the upper abdomen. Blood in your vomit or black stools may be a sign of bleeding in the stomach, which may indicate a serious problem requiring immediate medical attention.

In the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, gastritis is closely related with the dysfunction or imbalance of the Stomach, Liver, Spleen, or a combination of these systems. Acupuncture treatment will vary from individual to individual depending on the differential diagnosis. Acupuncture can be used in conjunction with conventional medical therapy such as medication. Acupuncture can help with the symptoms and progress of gastritis by regulating gastric secretions, gastric motility, hormone, and neuropeptide release and metabolism.

If you suffer from a chronic or acute digestive disorder and would like to add acupuncture to your treatment plan, please call (304) 263-4927 to schedule an appointment.



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