Acupuncture for Better Digestion
Acupuncture head. Photo © Blue Sky 2005.
All of us want to feel our best, and in Chinese medicine, that means having good energy. We get our energy from the air we breathe and the food we eat. Unfortunately, while many of us eat well, we often have poor digestion, which can translate into low energy, fatigue, and a host of other health problems. Many people say they digest their food well, but complain of heartburn, rumbling, bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea, all of which are signs of poor digestion.
Chinese medicine is best known for acupuncture, which is an ancient healing modality using hair-fine needles to manipulate the body's energy and enhance healing. More and more western institutions, such as the World Health Organization and the Mayo Clinic are recognizing the value of acupuncture in the treatment of pain and various illnesses. Acupuncture can be very effective for digestive problems, and combining food therapy to acupuncture increase the effectiveness of the treatments.
The Chinese view food as medicine that you get to eat three times a day, and digestion as important to health as the food that’s eaten. They think of digestion almost like a pot of nutritious soup in your body simmering over a low flame. Foods that are added to the soup can enhance or dramatically hinder how well it cooks. For example, if you add ice cold foods to the soup, it will dampen the flame and the soup will stop cooking. This will ultimately take energy to bring the soup back to the simmering point. The same is true for a lot of raw fruits and vegetables. Rather than enhancing our energy level, eating the wrong foods can actually deplete our energy. A better plan is to “predigest” foods, if possible, by cooking them slightly first, to make the nutrients more available and enhance energy.
Here are some things that you can do to improve your digestion and get the most nutrition from the food you eat:
- Very cold or raw foods take a lot of energy to digest, and eaten frequently can put a strain on your digestion. “Predigest” your fruits and vegetables by sautéing or steaming them briefly.
- Drink room temperature or warm liquids. Avoid iced drinks.
- Eat smaller meals more often to keep your blood sugar even and ease your digestion.
- Eat at least two hours before bedtime to give your system time to digest. Eating too close to bedtime can cause heartburn or insomnia.
- Ginger and Hawthorne are two common herbs used in Chinese medicine to help digestion. Ginger is good for calming an upset stomach and can be found in teas or can be grated raw into hot water. Hawthorne is used to help ease digestion and can be found in capsules, teas, or candy.
Lynn Jaffee is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in St. Louis Park, MN. For more articles or information visit www.acupunctureinthepark.com.