Here's How Acupuncture Can Improve Your Gut Health, Expert Says
If you deal with chronic or unpleasant stomach issues, it's likely you're on the lookout for ways to improve your gut health. Conditions such as irritable bowl syndrome (IBS), Crohn's Disease, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can be completely draining, frustrating, and outright painful. In fact, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, an estimated 10-15% of the world's population deals with IBS. And in 2015, around 3 million adults in the U.S. reported having an IBD (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis) diagnosis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Many individuals have tried specialists, over-the-counter remedies, and prescription medications, but the process can be one huge, vicious cycle of disappointment. When you're experiencing a flair-up, stomach issues can put a damper on or totally ruin the best of plans.
Have you ever considered a safe, natural, holistic treatment in efforts to improve your gut health? If so, acupuncture is a form of therapy you may want to explore. It's used to treat dozens of conditions, including improving your overall digestion and gut health. You read that right! Read on to learn more, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.
Acupuncture is used successfully on patients to reduce gas, bloating, stomach pain, acid reflux, and much more
When it comes to digestion, many problems can be chronic. We spoke with Dr. Shari Auth, Co-Founder & Chief Healing Officer of WTHN who explains, "Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the root cause of digestive issues – which can be a long-term solution rather than addressing the symptoms." Dr. Auth notes that this "holistic, multi-modal approach," paired with herbal medicine, yields the best results when addressing digestive issues. "We have many people that are coming in for similar health issues, including digestive disorders, and we create community," Dr. Auth says.
Dr. Auth notes that acupuncture is used successfully on patients to reduce gas, bloating, stomach pain, acid reflux, inflammation, SIBO, and stress (the route of many issues). It can also boost your metabolism, alleviate constipation, and so much more.
A typical acupuncture course may start with 4 to 6 weeks of treatments, combined with daily herbal medicine to take at home. Some of the herbal ingredients include familiar things you've probably heard of in recipes, such as organic cardamon (which actually lessens the amount of gas in your stomach) and organic cumin (which introduces more digestive enzymes).
Related: Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut
What to expect during an appointment
As far as what to expect during an actual acupuncture appointment, there's no need to be nervous. According to Dr. Auth, the entire experience is designed to be extremely relaxing. As a matter of fact, it's not uncommon for patients to snooze away into dreamland during their session.
WTHN provides cozy Turkish towels for a cover up, heated tables to keep you warm, sound therapy, aromatherapy, and a wellness lounge – complete with healing tea for some extra tender care. "We do advise all clients to eat a little something beforehand. Doesn't need to be a full meal — but it's best not to come on an empty stomach so as to avoid feeling lightheaded," Dr. Auth says.
The needles aren't painful—in fact, they're similar in size to one hair on your head
Okay, let's get to answering the big question you are probably wondering. The needles are not painful. We're told they are similar in size to one hair on your head. Yes — that's how tiny they are!
Dr. Auth explains about the hundreds of acupuncture points on your body and how they help address many digestive ailments. "Acupressure points work via the connective tissues to send messages to the brain that alter brain chemistry. Sometimes points where you would expect them to be, i.e. a point for digestion, might be on the stomach and sometimes a point for digestion might be located on the lower leg," She says. "Points can be used together to achieve the best results."
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, acupuncture is deemed safe when it's administered by an experienced, skilled practitioner. Sterile needles are, of course, essential, and severe after effects can result in acupuncture that is not performed properly. It's important to make sure your acupuncturist is licensed, certified, or registered. Each state varies in what is required; however, most states require a license to practice.
For more information on getting your gut healthy again, check out The Best Eating Habits For Your Gut Health, Say Dietitians and Best Supplements for Gut Health, According to Experts.