Digestive Conditions: IBS, IBD & GERD

Most common digestive disorders can be treated effectively with acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, massage therapy, and nutrition counseling.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBS presents as a collection of symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Treatment options for IBS – especially more mild forms – are limited and often include avoiding trigger foods or other dietary and lifestyle modifications.

Fortunately, acupuncture is very effective in treating the collective symptoms of IBS such as diarrhea, pain, bloating, stool output, and stool abnormality. There are several acupuncture points which help regulate the vagus nerve, which oversees an array of bodily functions, including digestion, often referred to as the brain-gut axis.. Because the vagus nerve is a main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, it also modulates mood, immune response, and heat rate. It is the main connection between the brain and the digestive tract. When the vagus nerve is stimulated via acupuncture, it re-regulates peristalsis, the movement of the muscles in the intestine for the proper absorption of food. This in turn promotes healthy formed bowel movements. Very often IBS correlates with mood disorders, stress, and anxiety manifesting as an “IBS flare up”. When vagal fibers are stimulated via acupuncture, this action influences the brain in helping to regulate mood, calming the brain and gut simultaneously.

In IBD, a multi-level approach to the reduction of chronic inflammation assists in the anti-inflammatory role of the vagus nerve in ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). During inflammation, proinflammatory cytokines are released from intestinal mucosa. Acupuncture naturally reduces cytokine release, creating an effective multi level approach of an anti-inflammatory, immune modulating, and calming effect.


Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

including heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion

GERD is a common condition in which stomach contents flow backward into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation (heartburn) sometimes accompanied by belching, nausea, a bitter taste, a sensation of a lump in the throat, chronic cough and throat clearing. In severe cases, disrupted sleep may occur.

Although OTC medications, dietary and lifestyle changes can be effective in controlling the most troublesome symptoms of GERD, acupuncture is a great, natural adjunctive therapy. In controlled experiments, acupuncture demonstrates the ability to inhibit the intraesophageal acid and bile reflux responsible for the many troublesome side effects of this condition. 

There are many Chinese herbs and supplements that neutralize the stomach acid as well as act as acid blockers, and aid in healing the esophageal tissue. The benefit of treating GERD naturally is there are minimal to no side effects of the above listed therapies.


Chronic Constipation/Sluggish Metabolism

Constipation (less than 3 bowel movements per week) can be a frustrating condition to resolve. Some occurrences can be attributed to dehydration, lack of dietary fiber, physical inactivity, or medication side effects and can be resolved through lifestyle modification. Other, more persistent cases may appear spontaneous in nature and may have symptoms such as cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain.

In these situations, acupuncture can serve as a tremendous aid in relieving discomfort and returning to normal, regular bowel function. When the vagus nerve is stimulated via acupuncture, it re-regulates peristalsis, the movement of the muscles in the intestine allowing for formed, regular bowel movements and reducing pain. Many herbal supplements as well as abdominal massage therapy can work in conjunction with acupuncture to maximize its effectivity. It is imperative to maintain regular, healthy formed bowel movements in order to reduce stress and inflammation in the body, as well as bring a sense of calm and well-being.


Meet Marin L. Kokin, L.Ac.

Marin — acupuncturist, nutritionist, and owner of the Kokin Healing Center — is beloved by her patients. Read about patients that have found success at the Kokin Healing Center in Calabasas.

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