Digestive Health Problems?

by Hon Lee on August 19, 2019

Millions of Americans suffer from digestive disorders ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Evidence that Oriental medicine has been used for digestive disorders can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD, where specific acupuncture points and herbal formulas for borborygmus (rumbling or gurgling in the intestines), abdominal pain, and diarrhea with pain are discussed.

According to Oriental medical theory, most digestive disorders are due to disharmony in the spleen and stomach. The spleen plays a central part in the health and vitality of the body, taking a lead role in the assimilation of nutrients and maintenance of physical strength. It turns digested food from the stomach into usable nutrients and qi (energy). Many schools of thought have been formed around this organ, the premise being that the proper functioning of the"'middle" is the key to all aspects of vitality.

By taking into account a person's constitution and varied symptoms, a treatment plan using a variety of techniques is designed specifically for the individual to bring their "middle" back into harmony and optimize the proper functioning of the digestive system.

Celiac Disease

More than 3 million Americans are affected by celiac disease and up to 30 percent of the global population carries a genetic predisposition to it, according to the American Gasteroenterological Association. In a nutshell, celiac disease is a severe allergy against the gluten proteins found in wheat. The immune system mounts an intense reaction, which causes inflammation in the small intestine. This damages the small finger-like projections that line the small intestine, and thus interferes with the small intestine's ability to absorb the nutrients the body needs to sustain itself.


Some people are asymptomatic and don't know they have celiac disease until after they experience serious complications. In fact, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, as many as 97 percent of sufferers are not aware they have it. The person may have what's called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, in which they react negatively to gluten but do not suffer from intestinal inflammation. This makes diagnosis and getting treatment difficult. 

Over time, if the condition is not diagnosed and goes untreated, it can become chronic and the person can find themselves dealing with long-term health conditions like anemia, miscarriage, neurological complications, infertility, mineral and vitamin deficiency, lactose intolerance, cancer of the intestines and gastrointestinal tract, reduced spleen function, deficiency of the pancreas, and gall bladder malfunction.

Research maintains there is no cure except to refrain from eating foods with gluten. But gluten can be found in many foods that may not be apparently obvious, like salad dressings, soy sauce, and even some medications. Even when gluten-containing foods are removed from the diet, sometimes the intestinal inflammation and symptoms may persist. Relief from gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, and acid reflux may take up to several months for some. 

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help manage the symptoms of celiac disease by addressing the inflammation in your intestines through regular treatments. Of vital importance is a discussion concerning diet and how to avoid gluten while still eating nutritious, complete meals. 

One basic step you can take at home to support your digestive health is to establish a routine. According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the spleen is responsible for transforming food into nutrients and then transporting them to other areas of the body. Ritualize your eating habits with regular meal times, avoid hunger and don't overeat. Try to have your last meal at least three hours before going to bed. Breakfast is considered an important meal of the day and should not be skipped.

Hon K. Lee is a Licensed Acupuncturist in Herndon, VA., and the founder of Sports Edge Acupuncture Clinic. He is also an author, teacher, martial arts instructor, qigong practitioner and a U.S. Marine combat veteran. Proceeds from the sale of his memoirs go to charities that benefit wounded warriors and their families.

Hon Lee – who has written posts on Acupuncture Herndon, VA.


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Sports Edge Acupuncture Clinic
1033 Sterling Rd #105, Herndon, VA 20170
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