Several conditions can slow the movement of materials through the digestive tract or produce waste gases, giving the experience of abdominal bloating. Acupuncture can help return an upset digestive system to proper balance by stimulating or inhibiting gastric and intestinal contractions, stimulating or inhibiting secretions of the digestive cells, and by addressing postural dynamics that impose distortional forces on the digestive organs. It is wise to report such symptoms to your primary care physician, considering the number and diversity of underlying conditions that they may accompany.
Acupuncture can influence contraction of the smooth muscle lining the digestive tract. Waves of muscular contraction (peristalsis) move materials down the digestive pathway. In cases of chronic diarrhea, slowed peristaltic action can help the colon reabsorb fluid, diminishing diarrhea symptoms and the damaging effects of dehydration.
Likely due to neural reflexes that link specific regions of the body’s exterior to internal organs (viscero-somatic/somato-visceral reflexes), acupuncture can have targeted effects on internal organ activity and intercommunication. Acupuncture can also produce more generalized shifts in autonomic neural activity, supporting the desired changes in digestive function*. Even mechanical [and pneumatic] pressures on the digestive organs are susceptible to acupuncture’s influence, by virtue of its ability to alter postural dynamics.
* The autonomic nervous system toggles between supporting digestive functions during periods of low mental or physical stress and restricting them when stress is high.
Ulcer etiology is multi-factorial, involving the chemical environment in the digestive tract as well as the balance of microbial populations lining its walls. Acupuncture can ease ulcer symptoms and help the body more effectively regulate conditions in the digestive tract. Acupuncture stimulates immune responses, influences pain perception, and alters the production rate of digestive secretions.
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