Acupuncture for Digestive Conditions
A digestive issue is any health problem that takes place in the digestive tract. Some of the more well-known digestive problems include heartburn, IBS and IBD.
There’s something about digestive issues that we find difficult to talk about, but they’re far more common than you might think. Aboutibs.org estimates that between 25 and 45 million people in the United States are affected by the disorder, while figures from The American College of Gastroenterology show that more than 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once a month.
Classic symptoms of digestive conditions include bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. These symptoms can be incredibly difficult to eliminate, even if pain medications are used for short-term relief. Many people with digestive issues struggle to manage their condition and keep symptoms at bay.
Treating digestive issues in the long-term involves looking into the cause of the issue – which isn’t always clear – and eliminating this cause. One treatment that shows particular promise in doing this is acupuncture.
How Acupuncture for Digestive Conditions Works
Acupuncture works to address individual digestive disorders, without taking the “one size fits all” approach that many digestive medications favor. Digestive conditions are treated based on a patient’s individual symptoms and health aspirations.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s believed that digestive conditions are caused by an internal heat inside the body. Acupuncture works to remove this heat through the insertion of needles into specific pressure points around the body. These pressure points include the inside wrist, the lateral side of the leg below the knee, and the top of the elbow crease, and are connected to the large intestine and the stomach.
By focusing on digestion-related pressure points, an acupuncture therapist can use strengthening practices to relieve stress, reduce common symptoms of digestive disorders, and improve the function of the body’s immune system. Acupuncture may also be combined with herbal therapies to reinforce the effect of overall treatment.
Proven Benefits of Acupuncture for Digestive Conditions
Numerous studies have been carried out into the effects of acupuncture for digestive conditions, and nearly all are incredibly promising in their results.
It’s particularly interesting to look at the studies that focus on acupuncture for IBS, which is universally regarded as an “untreatable” condition. One report analyzed a number of randomized studies on acupuncture for IBS, and concluded that many showed potential in using acupuncture as a treatment for improving common symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain and bloating.
A clinical trial carried out on patients with gastroesophageal reflux cough also produced encouraging results, and reported that acid reflux and cough symptom scores during day and night “significantly decreased” in participants. The study concluded that the tested acupuncture treatment was “effective in improving clinical symptoms and living quality” in acid reflux patients.
The Future of Acupuncture for Digestive Conditions
When so many digestive conditions are difficult to treat, acupuncture provides the potential for a positive outcome that many people with digestive disorders may never have imagined. The therapy shows promise in not only reducing common symptoms of IBS, IBD and heartburn, but also reducing the factors that lead to these issues in the first place.