Are you looking for bloating and constipation relief?
Figuring out the root cause and proper treatment of your digestive issues can seem like an unsolvable issue that can leave you feeling discouraged. Often, sufferers will report feelings of bloat, fatigue, constipated, and sometimes not being able to fit into their everyday clothes.
Causes and diagnosis for bloating and constipation:
There are many causes of bloating and constipation. Frequently, it’s a process of elimination that will help determine the root cause of your digestive issues. There are times when lab testing will be needed for conclusive determination, if you’ve modified your lifestyle by implementing the supportive techniques we have explained in this article, it may be appropriate to request laboratory testing. Some testing options include a GI Map stool test, blood test, breath test, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and endoscopy.
The tests will look for dysbiosis in your gut such as SIBO, SIFO, H pylori, candida, celiac, Crohn’s disease, colitis, and a tortuous colon, but your medical professional will discuss all options with you if this route becomes necessary. Additionally, it may be worth asking for a full thyroid panel to find out how your thyroid is functioning while you’re at it. These tests include t3, t4, reverse t3, TSH, and thyroid antibodies.
Once you have received a diagnosis, you can look into further treatment that is appropriate for the particular condition, but we are always here to help as well.
This article is not meant as medical advice, please consult your doctor.
What is CONSTIPATION?
Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements that are hard to pass. Infrequent is considered to be having fewer than 3 bowel movements in a week. Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar to you: you had a bowel movement on Monday and not again until Thursday, and then the next one on Saturday. This would be an example of a bowel movement schedule in someone exhibiting symptoms of constipation.
This being said, everyone’s “normal” is a bit different, and normal is not necessarily optimal. The fact is that bowel movements come in different shapes and sizes. To help us assess issues, there is a chart called the Bristol Stool chart that illustrates the different shapes:
How can I relieve my constipation and bloating?
One of the questions I get asked frequently in my acupuncture practice is, how can I relieve my symptoms of constipation and bloating?
Here is an example of a situation where a female patient in her late 30’s came in seeking relief from bloating and constipation.
In a last-ditch effort to find relief from her issue, she took to the internet and searched “acupuncture near me” which eventually landed her at my practice. During her first visit she completed her intake forms where she disclosed her previous medical history, she then began to share how her body felt and what, specifically, she required relief from.
During our initial meeting, she ran through the details of her day. As a mom of a toddler, her day starts with feeding her daughter breakfast. Once breakfast wraps up, she cleans the kitchen while her daughter plays and will sometimes eat what’s left of her daughter’s breakfast. #momlife am I right? The bloating generally starts after eating lunch and gets worse as the day goes on. By the end of the day her pants are so tight that she has to unbutton them to have dinner.
She can also feel fullness in her lower belly and low back, which sends her to the bathroom. The trip to the bathroom is unsuccessful, she has a small incomplete bowel movement, so only a small amount of stool is voided and the movement looks like small rocks.
In her words, “it feels like my body takes forever to digest food, it feels like the food just sits for a long time, and I feel bloated and uncomfortable all the time.
She also mentioned that she experienced a lot of belching; throughout the day, she feels the need to burp and does feel relief after the burping.
After going through her health history, we came up with a game plan that was a combination of positive lifestyle modifications, acupuncture treatments, supplements, and cupping.
Acupuncture Treatment Process
As an acupuncturist, I’m a detective and am always searching for the root cause of the problem, and not just treating the symptoms. During my initial meeting with a client, I will ask questions aimed at getting to the root of the problem.
Questions include asking about sleep, stress, movement, breathing habits (do you hold your breath or breath only from chest), hydration, supplements, medications, and nutrition. All of these factors have an impact on the gut.
Daily Habits to improve digestion and gain relief from bloating and constipation:
This is the treatment plan we put together and agreed upon. This regimen was designed with her lifestyle in mind and is a comprehensive and targeted therapy regimen aimed at reducing her bloating and constipation.
If bloating and constipation are issues in your life as well, many of these recommendations can be implemented in your life to help reduce these problems. Please speak with a medical professional before you do so.
1. Eating 3 balanced meals a day. A balanced meal includes protein, fat, fiber, and complex carbohydrates.
2. Snacks should include protein, fat, and fiber in order to prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar. Also, space meals and snacks out to give the body enough time to digest the meal.
PRO TIP: Life can feel like a never-ending to-do list. So often we find ourselves on the go and ignoring the signs of our body telling us it needs fuel until it’s too late, and we end up eating things that are not in line with our health goals. The best way to avoid this trap is to be proactive and meal prep and also have some healthy staples on hand that are grab-and-go. Always make sure you’re setting yourself up for success!
3. Deep breathing. This is an important practice at mealtime, and while sitting on the toilet trying to relieve constipation. As mentioned earlier, we often eat in a rush, and our stomachs interpret that as stress. Stress hinders the stomachs ability to release the enzymes and proper amount of acid to break down food. Additionally, it also affects the gallbladder's ability to release bile, which is what breaks down fats in your meals.
4. Chewing food thoroughly: The body has a lot of jobs to do, help it out by
chewing your food and breaking it down as much as possible before your gut takes over.
5. Avoiding inflammatory ingredients: In this case we are talking about gluten and dairy. Both of these can increase inflammation and permeability in your intestines, which will lead to bloating. A common cause of constipation is hypothyroidism, and systemic inflammation in the body hinders the production of thyroid hormones. This leads to slow functioning thyroid, which results in dry, hard, and slow moving stools.
6. Daily movement: Aim for 15-30 minutes of consecutive movement a day, whether it’s a walk, yoga, HIIT, jogging, or biking. Get in your steps even if it involves walking your kid in the stroller.
7. Incorporate supplements: When it comes to introducing supplements into your routine, we suggest the following: (check out our Digestion list on Fullscript)
Improvements to expect:
After 3 acupuncture treatments, which were spaced a week apart, our female patient reported marked improvement in discomfort and symptoms overall. Some of the recommended changes she made were:
Recipes mentioned in this article:
Ginger Orange Tea:
Orange Peel: ¼ of a large navel orange
1 inch piece of ginger root
Simmer orange peel and ginger in water for about 5 minutes.
Drink daily, enjoy after a meal.
Quick, Easy, and Satisfying Smoothie Recipe:
She found that making a protein smoothie in the morning was a quick and easy way to start her day. She modified her usual protein smoothie to include one small portion of fruit, a large serving of a frozen vegetable, a heaping tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and a dash of cinnamon. The key to balanced smoothie recipes is to avoid high glycemic index ingredients, such as a lot of fruit or sweetened milk.