NAGGING GUT ISSUES?
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Them
Most people have accepted or gotten used to living with gut issues like bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Eastern medicine views these symptoms as signs of underlying imbalances that impact more than digestion. While you may feel these nagging gut issues are just a normal part of life, they may be your body’s way of communicating a greater problem.
According to eastern medicine, if you’re feeling bloated, look to the stomach, spleen, and liver. The spleen and stomach are your primary digestive organs, in charge of absorbing food, creating blood and Qi (energy) from it, and transporting nutrients to the rest of the body. When your spleen and stomach aren’t functioning as they should, your poorly digested food can lead to stagnant Qi.
When your digestive system is struggling, food and fluids become stuck in the spleen. This is when you start to feel bloated, tired, and sluggish.
Bloating may also be a result of an imbalance in the liver. The liver is responsible for regulating Qi and blood. When not flowing properly, Qi can accumulate in the chest and abdomen. That’s why, in addition to bloating, you may feel stiff in your neck and shoulders or deal with insomnia or headaches.
Note if there is an uncomfortable sensation when pressure this points to stagnation. If touch and pressure provides relief, a deficiency of pathology is present.
Herbs for Bloating
Shan Zha = Hawthorn
Hawthorn reduces bloating by helping to digest, absorb, and guide food out. It stimulates gastrointestinal secretions, promotes movement within your gut, and helps your body produce digestive enzymes.It’s especially helpful if your bloating is caused by illness or stress.
Hei Hu Jiao = Black Pepper
Black pepper is full of piperine, which can boost digestion in a variety of ways. It stimulates the release of your body’s digestive enzymes, helping to break down your food and absorb nutrients more easily. Black pepper is easy to add to just about any meal.
Ding Xiang = Clove
Clove stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. It’s been shown to help reduce bloating and ensures the gastrointestinal tract stays healthy. Clove is a spice that’s perfect for adding to your chai or oatmeal.
Xiao Hui Xiang = Fennel seeds
Fennel protects against factors that increase the risk of bloating. It’s used to relieve digestive disorders and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can take fennel supplements or add them to your tea or cooking.
Gui Zhi = Cinnamon
Cinnamon is rich in antioxidants, helping to alleviate bloating. It also helps reduce pressure in the abdomen, allowing gas to pass freely, giving you some relief. Adding a dash of cinnamon to your coffee, tea, or even a cup of warm water can help support healthy digestion.
According to eastern medicine, diarrhea is most commonly caused by a spleen deficiency. The spleen affects the transporting of nutrients from food. When looking at your diet, diarrhea and spleen problems can be caused by excess intake of raw, cold, spicy, or fatty foods. Any of these can affect spleen and stomach function. If you are woken up by diarrhea early in the morning, then the Kidney organ is involved.
Your mental health can also affect your digestion, leading to diarrhea. Depression, rage, and anxiety can block the liver and induce the stagnation of Qi. Stagnant liver-Qi can then move and attack the spleen and stomach. This is a good reminder that your physical and mental health go hand in hand. When you’re not feeling and functioning your best mentally, your physical health will suffer.
Chinese Medicine can greatly improve the severity, frequency, recurrence and discomfort of episodes.
Herbs for Diarrhea
Sheng Jiang = Ginger
Ginger is a common herb used for diarrhea and all sorts of digestive upsets. It has been used for centuries in eastern medicine. It contains an enzyme that helps reduce puffiness and stomach gas. You can add a slice to some warm water, take it as a dietary supplement, or in a tea. A cup of ginger tea, once or twice a day or even before meals is a simple digestive aid. Speak to your acupuncturist about external application of “ginger Moxa.”
Bo He = Peppermint
Peppermint is a soothing herb with a variety of digestive benefits, including diarrhea. It prevents smooth muscles from contracting to stop diarrhea. You can take peppermint straight from the herb, in a supplement form, or sip on soothing peppermint tea.
Huang Chu Ju = Chamomile
Chamomile is a calming herb traditionally used for intestinal upsets, including diarrhea. It can also eliminate diarrhea-causing bacteria with its antibacterial properties. Chamomile can be taken as a supplement or brewed into a tea.
According to eastern medicine, constipation is a result of stagnant Qi in the body. Stagnation leads to slow blood flow, which can result in many different physical and mental health issues.
Constipation can be divided into excessive and deficient patterns based on the underlying etiology. Constipation is most commonly caused by excessive heat in the digestive system. Many factors can cause constipation, such as a low-fiber diet, life changes, lack of exercise, over consumption of alcohol or as a side effect of medications. Chronic Blood Deficiency can lead to constipation and stools would be dry and difficult to expel.
Chinese Medicine assists by improving intestinal transit time, moistening intestinal lining and stimulating the parasympathetic nerve to restore normal bowels. Acupuncture is great at addressing the stress and turn the switch from “fight and flight” mode to “rest and digest”
Herbs for Constipation
Hei Zhi Ma = Black Sesame
Black sesame seeds are rich in healthy omega 3 fatty acids that can work to moisturize the intestinal walls and get the bowels moving. These are easy to incorporate into your regular meals, sprinkles onto salads, vegetables, and noodle or rice dishes.
Fan Xie Ye = Senna Leaf
Senna leaf can be used for short-term constipation relief. It acts as a natural laxative and anti-inflammatory agent, but should not be used long-term. It can be taken in supplement form or as tea.
Che Qian Zi Ke = Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husks contain a soluble form of fiber that can help relieve constipation. It comes in powder and capsule form. It can be mixed with water or juice.
Gan Cao = Licorice Root
Licorice root has anti-inflammatory properties and helps to soothe the digestive system. Sipping licorice tea is a great way to encourage a bowel movement.
Note: Dehydration is a very popular cause of constipation. Sipping hot water first thing in the morning or throughout the day will also assist.
As you can see, these seemingly “normal” gut issues are probably a sign of another problem you may not be aware of. Bowel movement is a very good tracker of health and it has been one of the main diagnostic tools in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. Taking a holistic approach to your symptoms and utilizing herbal remedies can help you find relief from your gut issues while improving your overall health.