Digestive problems

August 19th, 2015 /

Digestive problems

The digestive system starts at the mouth where food enters, is chewed and mixes with saliva which begins to break up the food with enzymes. Other enzymes in the digestive tract break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates for absorption into the small intestine. A ‘bolus’ of food is then swallowed and passed down the gullet or oesophagus.


In the stomach the food is mixed with acidic gastric juices which break up the food into a paste called “chime” that is propelled by contractions into the small intestine. Here bile from the gallbladder and pancreatic juice’s are added. Most of these juices are then processed in the liver, which is vital in digestion and for storing sugar, fats and protein. It also neutralizes toxins, drugs and produces bile.



Unabsorbed liquid food passes into the large intestine where most of the water is reabsorbed into the blood stream. The food remaining (semi solid faecal matter) passes into the rectum for storage until it is expelled from the body.


What can go wrong?

The digestive system helps prevent infections. The gastric juices will kill most viruses and bacteria. Some however, penetrate and can cause gastroenteritis with diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Travellers’ diarrhoea and food poisoning are common results, so careful food hygiene abroad is essential.


Stress, too much alcohol or certain drugs may cause excessive stomach acid resulting in indigestion and heartburn.

If the cause continues unabated ulcers can form.

Stomach or oesophagus cancer can cause similar symptoms to indigestion or heartburn. Other signs include weight and appetite loss.


Constipation is common with our highly refined western diet. It can also be caused by other diseases, for example: hypothyroidism and prescription or over the counter medication such as codeine.


Persistent constipation and straining can be a cause of haemorrhoids, swollen veins in the anal canal. Blood in the stools can point to rectal cancer and should always be investigated.


Alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation and cramp like abdominal pain, may indicate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


There are several types of digestive problems that people can suffer from and these are all treatable using a combination of acupuncture, naturopathy and nutrition. A few examples are: Diarrhoea, Constipation, flatulence and burping, indigestion and heartburn, IBS, peptic ulcers and crohn’s disease.


Acupuncture is a holistic approach to medicine, where the aim of the treatment is not only to cure health problems but to balance the body, which has the effect of strengthening the immune system and preventing other illness form getting a foothold.


Much of the acupuncture consultation will be dedicated to a detailed system of TCM diagnosis (Traditional Chinese Medicine).


Successful acupuncture treatment depends on an accurate TCM diagnosis, so the initial consultation begins with typical questions such as: Your complete medical history, the symptoms you are experiencing, any pain you have had or are suffering from and what makes it feel better or worse, your sleep patterns, whether you experience any sensations of hot or cold, and whether you experience dizziness, what you’re eating habits are, bowel movements and family health history.



During the consultation the acupuncturist will also note certain observations, such as: posture, facial colour, facial expression, the brightness of your eyes or lack of, for example: a white face is linked to disharmony within the body or cold deficiency syndromes, a yellow complexion is related to dampness and a red complexion is a sign of excess heat syndrome.



The tongue is looked at and the pulse is taken and again this is done according to TCM principles. The colour, shape and coating of the tongue can reveal many patterns of illness and the pulse can give an indication of how individual organs are working in the body and whether they are underactive or overactive and whether your body is in a state of excess or deficiency.



Once the initial consultation is complete a TCM diagnosis is formed and from this diagnosis acupuncture point selection is then possible.

The length of treatment will depend on several factors, such as: the type of illness you have and its duration i.e. chronic or acute, your age, your individual healing abilities, how well you respond to acupuncture and whether you can avoid the conditions/cause of your presenting health issue. However many people can feel a difference in their health with only one or two appointments, but in general you should see some improvements after 3-4 treatments.



Because everyone is an individual, response times to acupuncture can vary, for example. After your first acupuncture appointment you may feel no improvement in your presenting complaint, however many people feel sleepy, revitalized, or sometimes a little spaced out after treatment. You can also feel an immediate improvement after acupuncture; alternatively you can feel a little worse, before you start to feel better. Acupuncture can bring emotional, mental and physical problems to the surface, however this is a positive sign so don’t worry about it. As with any treatment, complete recovery takes time and patience. For more information on what to expect from acupuncture treatment please refer to our FAQ page.




A case of IBS.

Susan j Age 41 presented to the clinic complaining of medically diagnosed IBS, Susan suffered from alternating diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, nausea and loss of appetite.


Susan’s treatment consisted of acupuncture twice weekly for 3 weeks and then weekly sessions for a further 4 weeks, she was also prescribed herbal medicine and 2 supplements specific for her condition. Susan symptoms started to lessen with every appointment and some minor dietary changes were also recommended.


By the end of Susan’s treatment her symptoms were almost completely resolved and as Susan continued with her new dietary regime, she maintains a 90% reduction in her symptoms.



A case of Crohn’s disease

Vivienne N age 43 presented to the clinic with medically diagnosed Crohn’s disease. Her symptoms were pain in the lower abdomen, persistent nausea, weight loss, loss of appetite and loss of energy to name a few. Vivienne had been diagnosed with Crohns disease 6 months prior to making her first appointment and was recommended by her GP to take up to 5 different types of medication, which she refused to do and as Crohn’s disease is characterized by flare up and remission she was worried that her health would continue to deteriorate.



Vivienne’s treatment consisted of acupuncture herbal medicine supplements and major dietary changes. Vivienne attended the clinic twice weekly for 4 weeks and then weekly for another 3 weeks, this regime managed to get her symptoms under control. Her appointments continued monthly for a further 6 months.



During this time Vivienne followed her dietary instructions religiously and initially her improvements were slow however her progress was steady. It has now been five years since Vivienne’s initial diagnosis and flare up and she has regained all of the weight that she previously lost due to the illness and more importantly is flare up free with her condition under control. Due to the continued efforts that Vivienne makes with her diet she has stayed drug free, and flare up free and lives a life free of the usual debilitating symptoms that affect so many Crohns sufferers.



Regardless of your medically diagnosed condition acupuncture and natural medicine has something to offer.

If you would like to find out if acupuncture can help your health and wellbeing then call, 94781415 or email us via our contact page to discuss your requirements or to find out more about acupuncture please go to our FAQs page. Alternatively give acupuncture a try and make an appointment now.

 Best of health.

Best of Health

Paul Neilson CMP. L.Ac. ND. DHM.




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