About 60-70 million Americans suffer from digestive problems, according to data from the National Institutes of Health. If you're one of them, you know the impact they can have on your comfort, your health, and your quality of life.
Traditionally, treatment of digestive problems has focused on two approaches: changes in diet or lifestyle and prolonged use of medications aimed at controlling unusual gut activity.
While that may help some people, at least in the short term, many patients find this approach doesn’t provide them with the relief they’re looking for. Worse, taking medicines for a long time can lead to other unpleasant — even harmful — side effects.
More recently, medical practices have turned their attention to more holistic approaches, including one treatment that’s been used to treat digestive problems for centuries: acupuncture.
As a leading sports medicine practice in Boonton, Pompton Plains, and Jersey City, New Jersey, Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness uses acupuncture alone and in combination with other therapies to treat an array of health issues, including digestive disorders. Here’s how acupuncture could help you.
Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, with early references dating back a couple of thousand years. While researchers don’t know for sure how acupuncture works, Chinese practitioners felt the needles helped realign the body’s natural energy, or Qi, promoting optimal function of organs and tissues.
Today, doctors think acupuncture helps stimulate natural healing processes, as well as correct nerve signaling problems that can lead to pain and other symptoms. Acupuncture treatment may also improve circulation to damaged areas as part of that natural healing process.
Because acupuncture uses needles, many people worry the treatment will be painful. The fact is, the needles used in the treatment are extremely thin — much thinner than the needles used for vaccinations, for instance. Most patients report no more than a tiny pinch when the needle is inserted, with no discomfort once the needle is in place.
While most people think of acupuncture being used for musculoskeletal issues, the technique is used for many other health issues, too. For digestive issues, researchers think acupuncture works by improving the gut-brain interaction — the “communication system” involving the nerves between the digestive tract and the brain.
Studies show acupuncture may help with gastrointestinal disorders by stimulating nervous system responses that help control gut motility. By either stimulating or relaxing gut movement, acupuncture may help relieve digestive symptoms by helping with the underlying digestive process.
Current research shows acupuncture can be helpful in treating many types of digestive disorders, including:
At least one study found patients with GERD responded better to treatment when acupuncture was added to their therapy. The same study found patients treated with acupuncture reported a better quality of life following their treatment, and they were less likely to have a recurrence of GERD symptoms.
Digestive problems can make you feel lousy, and some problems can even interfere with your body’s ability to absorb important nutrients. If you’re dealing with a gastrointestinal problem, acupuncture could be just what your body needs to heal itself and start feeling better.
To learn more about the acupuncture treatments our team uses for digestive issues and other health problems, call the practice or book an appointment online today.