BS, GERD and celiac disease are all types of gastrointestinal diseases or disorders that can be debilitating and affect quality of life and the ability to function normally. People with these conditions can benefit from treatment with acupuncture. Here’s what you need to know about each of these conditions and about treating them with acupuncture.
IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon, is a digestive disorder that affects the large intestine. It is a chronic condition and can present with a broad range of symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, pain and discomfort.
Some people with IBS find that they tend to have diarrhea (IBS D), while others have constipation (IBS C), while some have varying bouts of both.
There’s no definitive known cause of IBS, but stress, poor diet and lifestyle can all be contributing factors. Most treatment programs include lifestyle changes.
The good news for people with IBS is that while this inflammatory disease is unpleasant and can be tough to live with, there’s no evidence of a link to more serious conditions like colon cancer. When the disorder is well managed, people with IBS will enjoy long and normal lives.
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disorder, is a disorder that affects the ring of muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter, which usually keeps digestive acid from traveling from the stomach into the throat.
In people with GERD, this sphincter does not function properly, allowing gas and liquid from the stomach to travel back up the esophagus rather than staying put where it should be. This results in heartburn, pain, and an unpleasant bitter taste, among other symptoms.
GERD may be caused by a temporary change in lifestyle, such as pregnancy, or it may be a long-term condition. In either case, treatment is often lifestyle related and may include dietary changes, antacids to neutralize stomach acids and, in some extreme cases, surgical intervention.
Celiac disease is a much more serious condition than GERD or IBS, in that it is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system is confused and attacks itself under certain conditions. For people with celiac disease, this happens when they consume gluten.
People with celiac disease often suspect they have less serious conditions like IBS, because many of the symptoms (gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort) are similar, but people with celiac disease will also experience rashes, anemia, musculoskeletal symptoms and even seizures.
There are also numerous secondary conditions associated with celiac disease, including diabetes, lupus, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.
Treatment for celiac disease always includes a completely gluten-free diet, and some patients whose intestine is too damaged to absorb nutrients properly may also require intravenous nutritional supplements.
The good news is that in spite of the popularity of the anti-gluten movement, celiac disease is very rare, and only a tiny percentage of the population has it.
Acupuncture and Gastrointestinal Diseases
Acupuncture has been used for millennia to treat gastrointestinal disorders, and it can help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort people with these conditions experience. Since many of these disorders are chronic, it’s important to seek lifestyle treatment options like this to make the associated long-term health issues easier to manage. Speak to your doctor or a trained acupuncturist to find out if you could benefit.