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Acupuncture for Colitis

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Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease (CD) are two forms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). These two conditions inflame the digestive tract lining of a person and cause serious episodes of stomach pain and/or diarrhea.  CD usually affects a specific part of your digestive system, the small intestine; colitis, on the other hand, typically only inflames your colon which is the inner lining of your large intestine and rectum. Another difference between colitis and Crohn’s disease is that if a person has ulcerative colitis he/she will often experience pain in the lower left abdomen, whereas with CD the person is more likely to feel pain in the lower right abdomen. And since CD occurs in the small intestine (which is higher up in the digestive tract than the large intestine) and colitis your large intestine, bleeding during bowel movements usually occurs more with colitis.

Medicines prescribed for colitis and CD are often the same and doctors usually recommend surgery for either one. Happily, you can avail of some relief with acupuncture while you’re provided with all the conventional treatment your doctor can provide. Acupuncture is a form of treatment of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture often is combined with Chinese herbal medicine for the successful treatment of dozens of conditions including the ones that affect the digestive system.

One advantage of using TCM is that you need not undergo a series of expensive tests to know what your ailment is. A duly registered practitioner of TCM is qualified and well-trained diagnose you based on TCM patterns that help determine what kinds of treatment is appropriate for your condition. These treatments, of course, include Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture.  Other types of TCM procedures that can be effective for colitis and CD include Chinese massage (Tui Na), cupping and ear acupuncture. When correctly utilized, all these TCM procedures diagnose and treat you based on very old TCM diagnostic fundamentals.

A patient with IBD will be surprised to know that the diagnosis of his/her doctor will not be particularly important to a practitioner of TCM. TCM does not follow empirical science and the scientific method used by Western medicine, but observes and follows patterns and theories that have been used for many millennia, long before Western science was invented. In resolving your illness, your TCM practitioner will ask you a series of questions regarding your symptoms. He/she will also feel your pulse which is a sensitive and complicated way of knowing the energy patterns of your organs. Your pulse and symptoms can help the practitioner determine the correct plan of treatment for you. Usually IBD patients possess a pattern in the intestines known as Damp-Heat.

Dampness has properties that are considered stubborn, sticky and heavy. Dampness slows down the energy flowing in your body. Heat often helps accelerate the flow of energy, but when it is combined with Dampness, Heat can cause pain and impede energy flow. The accumulation of Damp-Heat in the intestines causes stomach pain as well as diarrhea with mucus and blood in your stools. Dampness is represented in the mucus and the burning sensation and blood represents Heat.

For patients suffering from either colitis or CD, herbal formulas and certain acupuncture points will be used and treated respectively to help in the relief of discomfort and pain as well as aid in the restoration of the proper functioning of their digestive system.  One good thing about acupuncture and other TCM modalities save for herbs is that it can work with any drug therapy you may already be on, allowing you to continue with any treatment you are already receiving.

 

Kine Fischler is a licensed acupuncture physician and the clinical director of Willow Tree Wellness Clinic in Portland, OR.

Written by Valerie

May 25th, 2014 at 7:40 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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