digestion relief in san francisco

Chinese medicine places great emphasis on having a healthy digestive system.  Diet and how well food is transformed into usable energy matters greatly in overall health. Nutrients are building blocks the body converts into strength, repair, defense and maintenance of the whole system. The body is made of trillions of cells and these cells take nutrients from food and covert them into energy.  Each cell has specialized functions depending what the body needs but if the cells don't have proper nutrients the body won't respond appropriately.  A nourished body is essential for energy, growth, immunity, healing and equilibrium.

Common digestive complaints are abdominal discomfort, pain and cramping, bloating, heartburn, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, diarrhea and constipation.  Digestion can be disrupted from factors such as poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and overuse of antibiotics or antacids.  For many, these are a constant, daily struggle.  Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary support can provide an effective and natural approach to regaining and maintaining optimal digestive health and restoring strength and harmony to your body.  


The gut-brain connection

The gut and brain are connected by millions of neurons linking the brain to the enteric nervous system, a separate nervous system controlling the gastrointestinal tract.  This is also called the "second brain" and is comprised of over 100 million nerve cells from the esophagus to the rectum.  It's main function is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow for nutrient absorption to elimination.

While the "second brain" does not make executive decisions, with the help of neurotransmitters, hormones and electrical impulses through a pathway of nerves both "brains" communicate back and forth.  These pathways include and involve the endocrine, immune and neural pathways.  Given how closely the gut and brain interact, emotional and psychological factors can trigger symptoms in the gut and imbalances in the gut are now being linked to neurological and psychological disorders.


importance of a healthy gut microbiome

The gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms, mainly bacteria, and their genes, living within the human gut, system that includes the stomach, intestines and colon.  It is home to over 400 types of bacteria that have important jobs for both physical and mental well-being.  They not only help to extract nutrients from food, they have influence over metabolism, hormones, cravings and genes.  The gut microbiome is constantly evolving and two thirds is unique to each individual depending on diet, stress, environmental factors and genetics.  Healthy gut bacteria significantly improves overall health, mood, energy and mental function. Imbalance of the gut bacteria, or dysbiosis, contributes to systemic inflammation such as aches and pains, weight gain, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, allergies and can be a significant risk factor for future health problems. If these bacteria are nourished, simultaneously the body is nourished.  


how acupuncture can help

Strengthening the digestive organs and reducing inflammation

For thousands of years Chinese medicine has proclaimed the basis for good health is maintaining a strong digestive system. Acupuncture improves the function of the spleen and stomach, the key organs involved in digestion, absorption of nutrients and metabolism, reducing complaints such as abdominal pain, bloating, heart burn, diarrhea and constipation.  Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture's effects on the nervous, endocrine, immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.  Stimulating the body's various systems, acupuncture can help resolve digestive complaints and pain, reduce inflammation, improve function and a general sense of well-being.

Regulating serotonin levels

Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters, chemicals that help the brain communicate with the rest of the body, for brain function (mood, memory and learning) and digestive system health. The gut is where roughly 95% of serotonin is made.  Serotonin affects the motility of the bowel and mucous secretion in the intestines. Acupuncture has proven affects of regulating serotonin levels.  By regulating this neurotransmitter acupuncture can effectively treat depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders while also strengthening digestion.   

Relieving symptoms of stress

Stress often can be one of the main reasons for a health imbalance. Constant stress accompanied with poor food and lifestyle choices can be a perfect recipe for weak digestive health.  Acupuncture significantly reduces stress, anxiety, promotes relaxation and helps circulate blood by calming the sympathetic nervous system or the fight or flight response.  It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for resting, digesting and healing and stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones.


common gastrointestinal conditions treated by acupuncture

  • Abdominal bloating, general discomfort, pain and cramping

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Constipation and diarrhea

  • Hemorrhoids

  • IBS

  • Heart burn and GERD

  • Crohn's disease

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis

  • Gall stones


suggestions for good digestion

  • Regular acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Strengthens the entire digestion system

  • Support the entire micro biome: Eating prebiotic nutrients, such as fermented foods, in conjunction with a probiotic

  • Nurture the body with whole foods: Consuming whole foods and limiting gluten, dairy, sugar and processed foods

  • Stress reduction modalities: Yoga, meditation, exercise, and healthy sleeping habits

  • Additional tips: Eat more cooked versus raw foods and limit iced beverages