It is estimated that approximately 62 million Americans experience digestive problems on an ongoing basis. This is due to the harmful repercussions of the standard American diet on our population coupled with the high level of stress that the average American experiences.
Many of us are in a constant state of fight or flight due to the unrelenting stress of our daily lives, whether it’s a cranky boss, a sick child, a late mortgage payment, or having too much to do. Constant emotional upheaval doesn’t give your body time to recover its equilibrium, and your digestion stays on the back burner, unable to do its job effectively.
Poor digestion is the root cause of many chronic health problems. Simply put, when you are unable to digest food properly, you cannot absorb the nutrients needed to stay healthy.
Over time this can lead to such conditions as:
- Pain and inflammation
- Seasonal allergies
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Frequent colds
- Weight gain
- Related depression, anxiety and frustration
The American diet can also easily lead to chronic constipation. This diet is low in fiber and antioxidants and high in difficult to digest additives and refined ingredients. Many, many people are constipated and they don’t even know it. They may have regular bowel movements, but they are still not flushing their systems thoroughly, which creates intestinal toxicity. Intestinal cleansing is often needed in healing numerous chronic health problems.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a very common problem that affects millions of Americans. This disorder is characterized by bowels fluctuating from constipation to diarrhea with intermittent abdominal pain or distention. People with IBS tend to be sensitive to a variety of foods including high fiber foods, refined sugar, wheat, and gluten products. Symptoms can continue indefinitely and can be resistant to conventional treatments. Acupuncture can treat IBS, usually with very positive results.
Acupuncture is effective in treating most digestive disorders including: Bacterial infections, peptic ulcers, heartburn, lactose intolerance, gastrointestinal tract bleeding, and inflammatory conditions. Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in managing chemotherapy medication digestive side effects and digestive symptoms following anesthesia.
Acupuncture also supports healthy weight loss. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, obesity and weight gain are due to an imbalance of the digestive system. The modern American lifestyle of overwork, too much stress and too little exercise, eating sugar, processed foods, and the wrong kinds of fats contribute to an impaired digestive tract and sluggish metabolism. It has been suggested that acupuncture improves the rate of metabolism causing calories to be burned at a faster rate. A growing body of research supports the use of acupuncture in weight loss. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Medical Acupuncture found that participants receiving acupuncture lost more than three times the weight of the control group.
Digestion is one of the main reference points for gauging one’s overall health. If there are weaknesses or imbalances here, it is likely that one’s overall health is compromised. Maintaining healthy digestion is an essential component in our quest for optimal health. My approach to good digestive health combines nutritional counseling, from both the Eastern and Western perspectives, with acupuncture treatment and in some cases, supplements. Making dietary changes that restore and detoxify the gut also enhance the acupuncture treatment progress.