Lingering Infections

Damage caused by chronic illness

cartoon bugs in digestionHow often have you heard someone say; “my digestion has never been the same since I got sick overseas”?

Lingering infections are common complaint I hear from patients whose digestion has been chronically weakened by illness. Often due to travelling to countries where we’ve been exposed to the foreign bacteria in the food and water. Sometimes we get over it easily, other times it stays with us for months. This then creates a vicious cycle of digestive symptoms.

To try and stave off the infection we take stronger and stronger antibiotics. This may help kill the infection, but it also destroys all the good bacteria in your gut as well. This bacteria is needed for us to properly digest and extract nutrients from our food.

If you are lacking in good gut flora, symptoms such as bloating, loose stools and nausea can often result. People can also end up fix reflux and other gastric issues due to food over-fermenting in the stomach.

Often probiotics are given to try and replenish the lost flora, but this isn’t always enough.

Natural ways to source probiotics

In the old days people ate fermented foods simply because of their shelf life. They were a good source of nutrients when food was scarce. Now they have largely fallen out of favour, but still have a lot of health benefits.  Almost every culture has some form of fermented food in their diet. The Japanese drink Kombucha, In Korea they have Kim-Chi, and in Europe there is Sauerkraut.  All of these are examples of a natural fermentation process which relies on bacteria. Eating these foods introduces these naturally grown bacteria back into our digestion.

Can Acupuncture Help?

In Chinese Medicine there is no such thing as probiotics, gut flora, or even antibiotics. Their functions and actions are described differently though. The digestion is viewed as energy production system, that requires enough heat and fluid to extract nutrients from food, then ‘steams’ them to distribute around the body. Chronic illness often represents as damage to some part of this system. If the ‘fluid’ part is damaged, this causes either too much (diarrhoea/fluid retention), or not enough (constipation) fluid in the digestion. Similarly antibiotics are ‘cold’ in nature, and can put the ‘fire’ out. This results in frequent loose stools, lack of energy and bloating, as there isn’t enough fire to drive the process of digestion. Similarly a virus may add too much fire and cause vomiting, reflux and urgent bowel movements.

It is with these symptoms that Acupuncture may be able to assist, and provide some regulation to the digestion.

there has been studies showing Acupuncture may have a regulatory effect on the Gastrointestinal System. More high quality research is needed for conclusive results to be reached. Here is a summary of some recent research findings:

A review in 2015 found: “The dual regulatory effects of acupuncture may manifest by promoting gastric peristalsis in subjects with low initial gastric motility, and suppressing peristalsis in subjects with active initial motility. In addition, the regulation of acupuncture on gastric motility may be intensity-dependent. Our findings suggest that further studies are needed to investigate the effects and more systematic mechanisms in treating GI dysfunction, and to promote the application of acupuncture for the treatment of GI diseases.”

Research from 2017 into Changes in Esophageal Motility after Acupuncture concluded: “Our results showed that acupuncture on the digestive point decreases LES (Lower esophageal sphincter) basal pressure. Acupuncture may be an alternative treatment to spastic disorders of the LES.”

A meta-analysis from 2017 had positive finding but confirmed that more high quality studies are required for conclusive results: “This meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for GORD. However, due to the small sample size and poor methodological quality of the included trials, further studies are required to validate our conclusions.”

If you would like to discuss this further, or require more information, feel free to call the clinic on 9796 2388.