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About Digestive disorders

Although people are used to experiencing digestive issues such as bloating, flatulence and belching, these are actually symptoms of possible acute conditions which, if allowed to become chronic, can impair the body's ability to digest, absorb and excrete food – one of the most important biological process for determining one's general health.


Possible Symptoms

Digestive disorders include such symptoms and conditions as:


  • Heartburn/GERD (Acid Reflux)
  • Nausea
  • Bloating/belching
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
  • Dysmotility
  • Stomach ulcers (Ulcerative Colitis)
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Food intolerance
  • Crohn's disease
  • Haemorrhoids (swelling and inflammation of veins around the lower rectum or anus)


Western Medicine view

Over-the-counter medicines such as indigestion pills, liquids and laxatives are available to ease the common symptoms. Pain medicine is also available but mostly on prescription. Chronic conditions require surgery.


Chinese Medicine view

Acupuncture has been proved – through clinical trials - to be an effective treatment for Diarrhoea (Dysentery - acute bacillary); Nausea and vomiting; Gall stones (Biliary colic); Epigastralgia (acute, in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm); Gastrointestinal spasm; Renal colic*.

Acupuncture has been shown to have a therapeutic effect on Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm); Ulcerative colitis (chronic); Pain due to endoscopic examination; Gastrokinetic disturbance*

The World Health Organisation also recommends acupuncture for irritable colon syndrome (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS) because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult. For this condition, clinical trials have reported acupuncture producing some therapeutic effects*.


Digestive disorders in Chinese Medicine are generally regarded as a result of imbalances in the Stomach and Spleen, the two main organs responsible for digesting, absorbing, transporting, and transforming food into Qi (the body's essential energy) and blood which nourish the body and support all other bodily functions. The Stomach governs the acceptance, digestion and passage of food and its normal movements downwards. If the Stomach energy moves the wrong way (upwards), symptoms will occur such as fullness, pain, nausea and vomiting.

The Spleen's main functions are to transform food into energy, and transport it to all parts of the body. The Spleen also shares with the Kidney the function of processing water and body liquids. Weakness of the Spleen, therefore, can lead to water retention as well as fatigue and lack of energy.

Imbalance in other organs can also affect the digestive process, for example, the Stagnation of Liver energy as seen in long term stress and anxiety will lead to digestive problems, such as poor appetite, indigestion, abdominal pain and distention (bloating).

Some of the classic syndromes that cause digestive conditions are:

  • LIVER QI STAGNATION - This is the major syndrome for stress and can lead to IBS and food sensitivity.
  • SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY - This is a slightly more advanced syndrome that can be caused by stress or other factors. It leads to excessive mucus, inflammation and bloating. Most people with spleen QI deficiency feel sluggish and tired.
  • STOMACH QI DEFICIENCY - This is the main syndrome related to indigestion or dysmotility.
  • YANG DEFICIENCY - People suffering from this syndrome tend to have a lot of diarrhoea and need to eat warm foods.
  • EXCESS SYNDROME - This causes water retention, weight gain and a general heavy feeling after food.


Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be prescribed according to Chinese Medicine theory to treat a number of digestive problems:

  • Indigestion- Chinese Medicine theory views this as a result of weakness of the stomach and spleen.
  • Gallstones- Chinese Medicine believes gallstones to be caused by damp heat in the liver and gall bladder.
  • Gastric/duodenal ulcer- Chinese Medicine believes both conditions to be caused by stagnation in Liver and Stomach Qi.
  • Ulcerative colitis- In this condition, because of the ulceration, there is diarrhoea with blood and mucus in the stool. According to Chinese Medicine, this is due to damp and heat which burns inside, damaging the blood vessels.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome- Chinese Medicine attributes this to an imbalance between stomach, spleen and intestines, sometimes also affecting the liver and kidneys.

When you see a Chinese Medical doctor at AcuMedic you will be asked many questions in order to see what particular syndromes you suffer from and how they relate to your digestion. You will then be treated with herbs and acupuncture for your syndromes which according to Chinese Medicine theory can help your digestion as well as seemingly unrelated symptoms such as fatigue, skin problems etc.


Lifestyle Advice for the Prevention and Treatment of Digestive Disorders

For expert advice on how to prevent and treat digestive disorders please take a look at our free guide REGULATE YOUR DIGESTION


For personalised advice on diet and lifestyle, please ask the doctor during your consultation. Please be reminded that we offer free online health advice.







Diarrhoea (Dysentery - acute bacillary)

 Li KR. [Analysis on the effect of acupuncture treatment in 1383 adults with bacillary dysentery.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1990, 10(4):113-114 [in Chinese].

 Qiu ML et al. [A clinical study on acupuncture treatment of acute bacillary dysentery.] In: Zhang XT, ed. [Researches on acupuncture-moxibustion and acupuncture-anaesthesia.] Beijing, Science Press, 1986: 567-572 [in Chinese].

 Yu SZ et al. Clinical observation of 162 cases of acute bacillary dysentery treated by acupuncture. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 1992, 2(3):13-14.



Nausea and vomiting

Dundee JW et al. Traditional Chinese acupuncture: a potentially useful antiemetic? British Medical Journal, 1986, 293:383-384.

Dundee JW et al. Acupuncture to prevent cisplatin-associated vomiting. Lancet, 1987, 1:1083.

Ghaly RG et al. A comparison of manual needling with electrical stimulation and commonly used antiemetics. Anaesthesia, 1987, 45:1108-1110.

Weightman WM et al. Traditional Chinese acupuncture as an antiemetic. British Medical Journal, 1987, 295(6610):1379-1380.

Dundee JW et al. Acupuncture prophylaxis of cancer chemotherapy-induced sickness. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1989, 82:268-271.

Barsoum G et al. Postoperative nausea is relieved by acupressure. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1990, 83(2):86-89.

Ho RT et al. Electro-acupuncture and postoperative emesis. Anaesthesia, 1990, 45:327-329.

Ho CM et al. Effect of PC 6 acupressure on prevention of nausea and vomiting after epidural morphine for post-cesarean section pain relief. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 1996, 40(3):372-375.

Andrzejowski J et al. Semi-permanent acupuncture needles in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture-Medicine, 1996, 14(2):68-70.

McConaghy P et al. Acupuncture in the management of postoperative nausea and vomiting in patients receiving morphine via a patient-controlled analgesia system. Acupuncture-Medicine, 1996, 14(1):2-5.

Schwager KL et al. Acupuncture and postoperative vomiting in day-stay paediatric patients. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 1996, 24(6):674-677.

Liu SX et al. Magnetotherapy of neiguan in preventing vomiting induced by cisplatin. International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 1997, 8(1):39-41.

Al-Sadi M et al. Acupuncture in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Anaesthesia, 1997, 52(7):658-661.

Stein DJ et al. Acupressure versus intravenous metoclopramide to prevent nausea and vomiting during spinal anesthesia for cesarean section. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 1997, 84(2):342-345.

Schlager A et al. Laser stimulation of acupuncture point P6 reduces postoperative vomiting in children undergoing strabismus surgery. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 1998, 8(4):529-532.

Chu YC et al. Effect of BL10 (tianzhu), BL11 (dazhu) and GB34 (yanglingquan) acuplaster for prevention of vomiting after strabismus surgery in children. Acta Anaesthesiologica Sinica, 1998, 36(1):11-16.

Alkaissi A et al. Effect and placebo effect of acupressure (P6) on nausea and vomiting after outpatient gynaecological surgery. Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 1999, 43(3):270-274.

Shenkman Z et al. Acupressure-acupuncture antiemetic prophylaxis in children undergoing tonsillectomy. Anesthesiology, 1999, 90(5):1311-1316.



Gall stones (Biliary colic)

 Mo TW. [Observation of 70 cases of biliary ascariasis treated by acupuncture.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1987, 7(5):237-238 [in Chinese].

Yang TG et al. [Clinical report of electro-acupuncture analgesia in the treatment of abdominal colics.] Jiangsu Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1990, 11(12):31 [in Chinese].

Wu XL et al. Observation of acupuncture treatment of biliary colic in 142 cases. Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 1992, 8(6):8.



Epigastralgia (acute, in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm);

Xu PC et al. Clinical observation of treatment of acute epigastralgia by puncturing liangqiu and weishu acupoints. International Journal of Clinical Acupuncture, 1991, 2(2):127-130.

Yu YM. [Therapeutic effect and mechanism of needling ST36 in the treatment of epigastric pain.] Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1997, 16(3):10-11 [in Chinese].



Gastrointestinal spasm

Shi XL et al. [Acupuncture treatment of gastrointestinal spasm.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1995, 15(4):192 [in Chinese].



Renal colic

Lee YH et al. Acupuncture in the treatment of renal colic. Journal of Urology, 1992, 147:16-18.

Zhang WR et al. [Clinical observation of acupuncture in treating kidney and ureter stones.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1992, 12(3):5-6 [in Chinese].

Li JX et al. [Observation of the therapeutic effect of acupuncture treatment of renal colic.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1993, 13(2):65-66 [in Chinese].



Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)

Shu X, et al. [Observation of acupuncture treatment of abdominal pain in acute gastroenteritis.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1997, 17(11):653-654 [in Chinese].



Ulcerative colitis (chronic)

Wu HG et al. [Therapeutic effect of herbal partition-moxibustion for chronic diarrhoea and its immunological mechanism.] Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1995, 36(1):25-27 [in Chinese].

Ma S et al. [Observation of combined acupuncture and moxibustion treatment of 60 cases of ulcerative colitis.] Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1997, 17(5):275-276 [in Chinese].



Pain due to endoscopic examination

Wang HH et al. A study in the effectiveness of acupuncture analgesia for colonoscopic examination compared with conventional premedication. American Journal of Acupuncture, 1992, 20:217-221.

Wang HH et al. A clinical study on physiological response in electroacupuncture analgesia and meperidine analgesia for colonoscopy. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1997, 25(1):13-20.



Gastrokinetic disturbance

Zhang AL et al. Clinical effect of acupuncture in the treatment of gastrokinetic disturbance. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion, 1996, 6(1):3-8.



Irritable Colon Syndrome (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – IBS)

Wu HG et al. Preliminary study on therapeutic effects and immunologic mechanisms of herbal-moxibustion treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 1996, 16(2):43-45 [in Chinese].


Case Histories

"When I first came to AcuMedic I was suffering from major depression, acne and digestive problems. After 6 weeks of herbs, 2 courses of tablets and acupuncture I can honestly say the improvement has been quite unbelievable. having lived with all these symptoms for many years the relief has been huge. I have been hugely impressed and would have no hesitation in recommending these combined treatments."


"For a year I have been treated for joint pain and bowel complaints, neither of which have been helped by Western medication, I have greatly improved and now even discontinued the treatment."


"Having been to my doctors approx 4 times since March with no result, I decided to come to AcuMedic. The results have truly surprised me, the pain in my stomach has already gone and after 3 weeks I am truly starting to feel much calmer, stronger and not so light headed."


Gastric Ulcer

The patient (male, 30 years old) had been suffering from paroxysmal pain in epigastrium for six months with such symptoms as abdominal distension radiating to hypochordrium, frequent belching, nausea, vomiting, acid regurgitation, anorexia, irritability with depression. He also had bitter taste in his mouth, and loose stools. Gastroscopy revealed a gastric ulcer. He had thin and white tongue coating, deep and taut pulse. He was diagnosed as suffering from hyperactivity of liver Qi attacking the stomach. Treatment focused on soothing the liver and harmonising the stomach, and regulating Qi to relieve pain. After a series of herbal medicine and acupuncture treatments, the pain was relieved. After one month of treatment, the ulcer had gone - as proved by gastroscopy.

Last Updated: December 13, 2012


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