Chap 10   Digestive issues

10.1     Nausea and vomiting

Nausea can be caused by eating unfit food, pigged out, drank too much. It is the signal of stomach crying for help. The other possibility is the reflective reaction with headache or dizziness. Some migraine sufferers reported that vomiting relieve the migraine and would try to produce vomiting to avoid the migraine.  Obviously, this will mess up with digestive system. The third possibility is the pregnancy. 

For migraine or dizziness induced nausea and vomiting treatment, just follow the previous treatment method for migraine.  For others, PC 6(Nei Guan) is very important, so is LI 4. In addition, look for other issues. In TCM, all six Fu organs except for Urinary bladder, namely, Stomach, Large and Small Intestine, Gall Bladder and San Jiao are all involved in digestive functions. The important feature for these organs is that their Qi have to descend down. When any of these organs decided to strike, stuff started to back up and nausea, vomiting would happen.

So, depends on which of these nice organs are at fault, select points on meridians which related to that organ. For instances, when gall bladder acts up, select GB 34 or the most tender point adjacent to this point for needling. The same point will also be used for gall bladder stone.  Because it is coupled to Liver organ, add Lv 3 or some other Liver point will be good too.

10.2     Abdominal bloating

Many people have this problem.  After big meal, the digestive apparatus gets overload and refuses to cooperate. Some people are sensitive to certain food and develops bloated abdomen after eating those foods.  Some women develop such issues during menses.

In TCM, these are the Qi stagnation issue in the low abdominal area, or so called Lower Jiao.  The origin of the stagnation is the weak Lower Jiao Qi or for menses women, pain and discomfort of the low abdominal area cause Qi stagnation.

For weak Spleen Qi as well as acute onset of bloating, moxa St 25( Da Heng).  The problem should disappear. Alternatively, a patent formula call Chai Hu Shu Gan San which moves the lower Jiao (I, e. low abdominal area) will do. With herbs, proper dosage is important to be effective.

Do moxa the points that move the associated Qi.  Acupuncture also works. Points used are, LI 4, St 25.  Additional points that can be helpful: Sp 6, Ren 6, Ren4.  The bloating literally disappears in front of your eyes.

One evening, two student clinicians each had patient complained about chronic problem of constipation and abdominal bloating. In addition to other individual complaints. I advised the students to moxa St 25. The bloating stopped immediately after moxa. After treatment, both patients had to run for bathroom because of urgent bowel movement.

10.3     Loose bowel or constipation

A young lady came in because she could not eat food for a few days.  A few days earlier, she broke off relationship with her boyfriend and was devastated. After moxa on St 25, she felt hungry and went to get a big meal.  This is a case of Stomach Qi stagnation caused by emotional issue. In TCM, it is the Liver Qi stagnation causing Qi stagnation in lower Jiao.

A retired young marine had loose bowel issues for many years. He was diagnosed as having IBS, irritable bowel syndrome a busted knee that was operation on. He was tall, well built, otherwise healthy. The cause for his bowel problem was the stress and bad eating habit. So, with moxa of St 25 and IR heat over low abdominal area, once weekly for two months, his problem is basicly resolved.  However, if he could not manage the stress, frequent acupuncture visits would be essential for his health.

One of the common digestive disorders is called Celiac disease. In Western medicine the etiology is an allergic reaction triggered by certain food items. The pathology is inflammation of the intestine.  In TCM, it is also a case of weak Spleen Qi. The treatment is moxa of St25.  Moxa on St 25 is so important for the health of the digestive issues that I have used a lot. Some other points are also helpful for such condition- St 36, St37, St 39.  In addition, using heat lamp over the abdominal area are very helpful as well.

The other type of loose bowel is the weak Sp Qi. Tonifying Spleen Qi is the proper direction to go. The choice formula in Shen Ling Bai Zhu San.

Single herb can also be used. I like the herb He Zi or the combination of He Zi and Ge Gen.  Ge Gen is very interesting herb. It is the root of Kudzu which is such a vibrant plant. Ge Gen somehow carries its energy to our body.  A student of mine gave it to one of her patient who was losing lots of weight because of chronic diarrhea. She prepared these two herbs and the diarrhea stopped shortly after starting the treatment.

These herbs belong to the category of astringent in TCM. In the extreme case, like uncontrolled diarrhea, Ying Su Ke which is the shell of opium may be needed. The ingredient of this stuff stops intestinal movement. This explains why people on narcotic analgesics have difficult of bowel. With Acumoxa, use St 25 plus some points like Sp 4, St 36. For patients with severe diarrhea, it is necessary to watch out for the electrolyte intake, otherwise, dehydration may happen.

It is very instructive to observe that I use St 25 for both diarrhea as well as constipation or bloating of abdomen. Unlike in Western medicine, two opposite category of drugs are used.

10.4     Flank pain

            Pain, discomfort or unusual sensations in the region between the lower back and  the upper abdomen on either side of torso,

First thing to check is the history of kidney stone. If there is no sign of such event then it could well be related to pulled muscle issues due to a fall. Pain can be so severe and difficult to diagnose by Western doctors. The pain can be so severe that deep breathing becomes difficult.

Meridians of focus: Lv, GB                                                   

Additional points: relieve low back pain as well as points to relieve neck pain

            Moxa : St 18, Sp 6 , Gb25,26, St 25

Electro stimulation: UB 19 and Ashi   on intercostals area on lateral side of back at T7-T10 level.

Many people have this problem and it could create extreme anxiety among the sufferers as no test can show anything wrong yet the pain can be so debilitating severe.

Just treat these points mentioned, apply electro acupuncture and use indirect moxa on all the tender spots. The pain should start to subside. Eventually it will disappear.

10.5     Abdominal issues related to surgery

A 35-year old lady complained of right abdominal pain. She was healthy, liked to go bowling, but could not continue the game ever since an appendix operation a half year ago.
 The scar from the operation was very visible, about 4-inches long, slightly horizontal and in the middle of right lower quadrant. The tissue felt hard upon palpation, with slight pain when pushed.
            The therapy consisted of 8 sessions with a combination of electro-acupuncture, moxibustion along the scar and infrared heat lamps. The patient was able to resume her favorite sports after the sixth visits.

A female in her late thirties had chronic low abdominal pain that went on for a few years. Her appetite, digestion and bowel movement were all regular. She did not have any difficulty with urination. Her medical history included two ectopic pregnancies after a normal birth to a boy more than 15 years ago. She was finally referred to urologist and was told she had "interstitial cystitis".

She did not want to have an injection of anesthesia and anti-inflammatory medication as suggested by the doctor. She was apparently stressed over the problem. She wass rather healthy otherwise. Upon examination, two surgical scars were visible where the surgical instrument was inserted into the abdominal cavity, apparently to terminate the ectopic pregnancy. Palpation at the low abdomen revealed pain around the right scar.

Electro-acupuncture was performed as well as moxibustion near the painful spots. Only three treatments were required to completely eliminate the pain.  

This was not a case of interstitial cystitis. It is a case of misidentify. It was another one of the consequence of having unresolved scar tissue