Many patients visit East to West Wellness center in order to improve gastrointestinal dysfunction- we see a number of patients with digestive complaints ranging from GERD, Crohn’s disease or even symptoms as a result of parasitic infections. Many patients with seemingly idiopathic gut issues are given the vague medical diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. IBS is a functional disorder of the digestive system when there is seemingly no biochemical or anatomical dysfunction. IBS is often exacerbated or only present in times of emotional upset, stress or anxiety. The signs and symptoms can vary but are typically abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and either constipation or diarrhea or alternating constipation and loose stools. The typical Western Medical treatment for this is usually stress management and the gut dysfunction itself is not targeted and usually dietary changes are not ‘prescribed’.

One of our patients came in with complaints of anxiety and GI symptoms. Her symptoms were consistently loose stool that at its worst could be diarrhea as well as bloating, gas and abdominal pain. At first this patient didn’t recognize any particular foods that flared her symptoms and associated the issues with emotional disturbances. We began treating her for both the anxiety and gut symptoms and she saw significant improvements however, even when the anxiety was relieved she still had lingering digestive dysfunction. By targeting gut and systemic inflammation with acupuncture and herbs as well as cutting out the 3 major pro-inflammatory foods (sugar, dairy, and gluten) this patient was able to see her symptoms reduce in intensity by nearly 100%.

After coming in regularly and sticking to her anti-inflammatory diet this patient is able to keep her symptoms at bay and only come in once or twice a month if she was less strict with her diet or had a particular anxiety inducing event. When patients come in after eating something that produces a strong inflammatory reaction, especially when they have a hyperactive system, we are able to control the bodies over reactive response and reduce inflammation locally in the gut to help regulate bowel movements and relieve pain. This is in part due to Acupuncture’s triggering of the sympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) to promote peristalsis and smooth muscle spasticity.

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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