Stress and Digestion


The body is designed to recognize and respond to stress.  It is actually a survival mechanism that has kept us alive.  Unfortunately, our modern culture is causing us to be overly stimulated and stressed, which is keeping us in the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system state.  The problem is, we do not heal while the sympathetic nervous system is activated.

How do we stimulate the calming part of our nervous system?

Most of us have experienced the wonderful relaxation we feel after a massage or a nice yoga session.  That relaxed and heavy state is the parasympathetic nervous system state – a state when our body can rest, digest, heal, and repair.  It is really important that we activate this step as often as we can to combat the stress of our lifestyle, habits, circumstances, health, etc.

Acupuncture is a wonderful way of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and this is why it is such a comfortable treatment.  The nice, calm, and sometimes heavy feeling you have after a treatment is a reflection of that state.  It feels great!

Why am I feeling stressed?

There are many reasons for the body to have a stress response or remain in a stressed state.  If known, it is always the most effective approach to address the underlying cause.  Some people are even unaware that their body is under stress.  For example, we can see increases in blood pressure with people under stress and they may even be unaware how strongly their body is reacting.  Stress can affect sleep, digestion, hormones, and our immune system.

Quitting our jobs and meditating 8 hours a day is not a feasible solution to combatting stress.  However, we do need to take active steps to creating some balance in our lives to mitigate the damage of stress.  This is particularly true for people who are inflamed, in pain or trying to get pregnant.

After your first appointment with us, we will be able to give you the proper guidance on things you can do to combat stress in your life, aside from just getting treated with acupuncture.


Aside from joint and muscle pain, digestive disorders are the most common complaint we treat in our clinic.  Many people ignore that their digestion is not functioning well and do not realize how much this can affect many other areas of their life.

There are many reasons why people experience digestive problems and after your first appointment, we can determine if there are additional medical tests that may be needed in order to treat you more effectively.  We work collaboratively with your primary physician to diagnose and treat your conditions.

What are the most common symptoms of digestive imbalance?

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Indigestion
  • Burping
  • Excessive gas
  • Pain
  • Lack of appetite

Long-standing digestive weaknesses or inflammation can have a negative effect on other areas of the body.  This can include brain fog or difficulty concentrating, low energy, weight loss or weight gain, weakened immune system, and even headaches.

How can acupuncture and Chinese medicine help my repair my digestion?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture has been shown in clinical research to improve digestion and reduce inflammatory disorders of the gut.  Herbal medicine and proper supplementation support is a great addition to acupuncture therapy.  We are highly trained in determining what additional herbal medicine and support you could benefit from and will be discussed at your first appointment at our clinic.

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

References for stress:

Irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression:  What are the links? Lydiard RB. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001;62 Suppl 8:38-45; discussion 46-7

Food Therapy

What is food therapy?

15305081 - fruits and vegetables at a farmer's market

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s true that “food is your medicine and medicine is your food.”  But what may be considered beneficial in one person’s diet, might not be suitable for another person’s diet.  The energetic natures of foods are used based on the pattern that is being treated.  For example, salads or raw foods are considered cold in nature and therefore should be avoided in patients that are cold (i.e. feeling cold, loose stools, edema, etc.).  An interesting concept regarding food and correcting imbalance is to “Eat what ails us.”  For example, collagen is a great protein to take for joint health.

womans hand holding cup of coffee with yin yang sign

“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and the Medicine be thy Food.”   – Hippocrates

References for digestion:

Effect of Acupuncture on Dyspepsia with Sleep Disorders. Liaoning Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Zeng LF, Tuo L. (2017). 2017,44(2): 359-361.

Analysis of therapeutic effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on functional dyspepsia. Wu ZL. (2017). Asia-Pacific Traditional Medicine. 2017,13(2): 112-113.

The Rome Ⅲ criteria for the diagnosis of functional dyspepsia in secondary care are not superior to previous definitions. Ford AC, Bercik P, Morgan DG, et al. (2014). Gastroenterology. 2014,146(4): 932-940.

Ultrasonography analysis of gallbladder motility in patients with functional dyspepsia. European journal of internal medicine.Milini N, Filipovic B, Luki T, et al. (2014). 2014,25(2): 156-159.

Visceral and somatic sensory function in functional dyspepsia. Neurogastroenterology and motility. Li X, Cao Y, Wong RKM, et al. (2013). 2013, 25(3): 246-253.

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: a randomized controlled trial. Bensoussan et al. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1585-9.

Electroacupuncture accelerates solid gastric emptying and improves dyspeptic symptoms in patients with functional dyspepsia. Xu, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2006 Dec;51(12):2154-9.

Acupuncture for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Takahashi, T. J Gastroenterol. 2006 May;41(5):408-17.