Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders indicate disharmony between the body organs responsible for digestion. This disharmony is commonly caused by various lifestyle, emotional (excessive stress, anxiety, worry, etc.) and dietary factors, which put a strain on the digestive system. When prolonged over a period of many months or years, digestive disorder imbalances occur. Changes in lifestyle factors and diet modification is often integrated into the Chinese medical course of treatment. TCM corrects these imbalances and assists in regulating digestion.

“The origins of many chronic health problems can be traced to compromised digestive function”.

Specific acupuncture points increase gastrointestinal muscle contraction and relaxation, and reduce gastric acid secretion, making acupuncture beneficial in treating general gastrointestinal symptoms. In conjunction with Chinese medicinal therapy and stress reduction techniques, acupuncture can nourish and strengthen related organs, minimize symptoms and contribute to medication-free digestive system health maintenance.

Acupuncture has demonstrated clinical effectiveness in managing the digestive side effects of chemotherapy, as well as digestive symptoms following anesthesia. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for digestive imbalance as well as a wide range of medical conditions.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a very long and rich history of successfully treating various Gastro-Intestinal Disorders. These include:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Acid Reflux/Heartburn
  • Candida
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Diverticulitis
  • Dysentery
  • Epigastric Pain
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Gastritis
  • GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disorder)
  • Gingivitis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Indigestion
  • IBS
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Ulcers

“A growing body of research has shown that lifestyle, environmental and nutritional factors play a significant role in the prevention and management of chronic disorders associated with compromised digestive function”.

There is nothing more fundamental to gastro-intestinal health, than a well balanced diet. Unfortunately in the western world, what is thought to be a good diet is often influenced by confusing and conflicting fads and misinformation. TCM recognizes that patients with different constitutions and conditions require unique and very specific dietary solutions.

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches us to properly diagnose and treat our patients using staid, ancient teachings recorded thousands of years ago. People do not change from century to century, but their circumstances do. The environment, food, medications, and stressors affecting our patients are very different today, and since the disharmonies that cause them are rampant, digestive disorders are also rampant.

Ideally everyone should try to eat fresh food, freshly prepared, with a minimum of chemicals, preservatives, or additives. Dietary changes for chronic longstanding disorders should be implemented slowly over a period of time but made a continuous part of one’s lifestyle. In addition to a healthy diet, it is vitally important to get adequate exercise and rest.

TCM stresses the importance of eating according to routine with regular meals taken at the same time every day with similar amounts for corresponding meals each day.

For optimal functioning of the digestive system, it is advisable to avoid or reduce the following;

1. Sugar
Avoid all foods containing added sugar (e.g. cakes, candies, ice cream, sodas, certain cereals, ketchup, etc.). Naturally occurring sugars as in fruit may be eaten, but reduced if any sensitivities exist. Raw unfiltered honey, unsulphured black strap molasses, maple syrup, rice syrup and “date sugar” may be used as acceptable sweeteners, but should be used in moderation.

2. Alcohol
Avoid all alcoholic beverages including liquor, beer and wine. A small amount of red wine two to three times per week is acceptable and has shown positive health benefits.

3. Caffeine
Avoid or reduce your consumption of coffee and soft drinks. It is advisable to also avoid decaffeinated coffee as chemicals are used in the decaffeination process. Herb teas and health food store “coffee substitutes” are acceptable.

4. Tobacco
Avoid cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc. Try to avoid second hand smoke as much as possible.

5. White Flour Products
Avoid white bread, white pasta products and also white rice. These are highly processed foods and completely void of any nutrition. Whole grain flour products and brown rice should be used instead.

6. Hydrogenated Fats
Avoid hydrogenated fats, which are oils that have been hardened by the addition of hydrogen atoms (e.g., margarine, Crisco, mayonnaise, and processed peanut butter). Hydrogenation is an extremely harmful process that creates an immune damaging synthetic fat. Saturated fats (e.g., butter, cheeses, meats) are allowed in moderation. Unsaturated cold pressed vegetable oils (e.g., safflower, sesame, canola sunflower, virgin olive oil) may be used. Avoid frying in vegetable oil.

7. Chemicals added to food
Labels must be read. In some cases, labels do not reflect the chemicals in the food. Avoid artificial preservatives: (e.g., BHA, BHT, MSG, nitrites, nitrates, sodium benzoates, etc.) commonly found in bread, crackers, cereals and various processed foods. All processed cured meats such as bologna, salami, corned beef and pastrami, should be avoided because of the addition of chemicals. Avoid artificial colouring: commonly found in sodas, certain candies, juice drinks, etc. Avoid artificial flavoring: commonly found in certain ice creams, frozen pies and candy. Avoid artificial sweeteners: Sweet ‘n’ Low, all diet sodas, and other processed low calorie foods.

8. Fluoride
Avoid fluorinated water and all tap water. Use bottled spring water, distilled or filtered water. Avoid fluorinated toothpaste (fluoride free toothpaste may be purchased at most health food stores).

9. Aluminum cookware and Teflon cookware
Avoid aluminum and Teflon cookware as aluminum tends to accumulate in the body and fluoride may be released from Teflon. Stainless steel, Pyrex, enamel, Corning and iron cookware may be used instead.

Aside from the above mentioned, please avoid or include any foods recommended by your Doctor of TCM.