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.
Can Acupuncture help with chronic migraine pain? The answer is yes, acupuncture is very effective at reducing migraine symptoms and also at preventing future attacks. Acupuncture is a gentle, safe, drug-free method for migraine relief.
Too many people suffering from chronic migraine pain are told that they need to “just get used to the pain” and accept suffering as part of their life. This does NOT need to be the case; migraines should not be preventing you from enjoying your time with friends and family. There are effective treatment options for migraine relief that result in improved quality of life with less pain. Living with more ease is absolutely possible.
Migraine headaches can be caused by many things and migraine symptoms can take on many forms. It's unfortunate that so many sufferers begin and end their treatment with over-the-counter or prescription medications like Excedrine Migraine or Sumatriptan and call it a day. This acute treatment is not full proof, and leaves migraines sufferers stressed and anxious because the pain is not resolved. There are alternative means of achieving migraine relief.
Evidence-based medicine for migraine relief
Clinical trials have shown that using acupuncture as a migraine treatment provides substantial relief from migraine symptoms. Acupuncture will reduce the severity of pain, duration, and frequency of migraines, and also improve mental health.
It is important to determine the root cause, triggers, and symptoms of the individuals migraine. As an acupuncturist, my job is to detect patterns and the cause of the pain. Fun fact: part of the diagnosis process is taking your pulse and looking at your tongue!
Symptoms of Migraines
Clinically, there are four stages in which the symptoms appear: prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. Knowing these four stages, we are able to identify patterns of symptoms that are predictive indicators of an impending migraine. During each stage of the migraine, there are different migraine symptoms.
For example, women will report getting migraines while they're ovulating, and also experience neck stiffness, diarrhea and trouble sleeping. Many women also report they are on the birth control pill and get migraines as a PMS symptom.
Another example, is what’s knows as an Ocular Migraine. These migraines begin with flashing in the eyes and momentary vision loss, this is known as an aura. Other migraine symptoms include dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, neck pain, throbbing pain, sinus pressure, food sensitivity, constipation, irritability, depression, and anxiety. After a migraine attack, you are often left feeling exhausted.
Acupuncture Treatment Plan
Migraine treatments using acupuncture vary widely, but here is an example of our uniquely tailored approach. We base it on how long you’ve been experiencing the migraines and severity of symptoms. We also use other techniques to further assess the patient as a whole being resulting in a treatment plan designed specifically for you and your particular presentation.
To give you an example, let's say you’ve been getting chronic migraines for 2 years, and on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain has consistently been a 7/10. The treatment plan would include two acupuncture treatments a week for two weeks. After two weeks, you would be re-evaluated based on current symptoms, and an updated treatment plan will be implemented. The goal is to reduce the frequency of acupuncture visits with improvement in pain levels. We will create a plan to prevent flare-ups in the future. This is a prescriptive approach to treatment and the effects are cumulative.
Lifestyle Tips to Manage Migraines
Acupuncture will surely help to alleviate ongoing symptoms of migraine headaches. To achieve true freedom from migraine pain we must also live with our wellness goals in mind. Daily preventative practices are key to maintaining lasting result.
A chronic migraine case: 40-year-old mother with full time job
After greeting my new patient from Southborough, I asked her, “what brings you in for today's acupuncture treatment?” Her response was, “I've been getting migraines every month since I had my son 3 years ago. I can't get them to go away. They’re debilitating and are interfering with my life. I decided it's time to try a different approach to get rid of these migraines. I can't keep taking this emergency migraine medication, Imitrex. It's not meant for daily use.”
She also noted how living with chronic migraine symptoms are really taking a toll on her mental health. She has a demanding full-time job and she also assumes primary parenting responsibilities for her son, attempts to get in her daily exercise, cook a healthy balanced dinner for her family, and also keep the house in order.
Female patient's symptoms and treatment plan
For this patient, her migraines happen during ovulation. They start with a feeling of pressure on the left side of her neck and crawl up the side of her head. By mid-afternoon she feels terrible and is nauseous and sensitive to light. As soon as she feels one coming on she takes an Imitrex, which more often than not does not provide adequate relief and she still has the migraine the following day, so she has to take another dose of Imitrex. Even with the second dose of medication, the migraine is still known to last up to 7 days. Its also worth noting that this medication is not intended for daily use.
Her goal is to find a safe intervention that is an alternative to taking medication, which also allows her to live a better, more comfortable life.
Our treatment plan looked like this: I recommended coming in twice a week for two weeks, which would then taper down to once a week for two weeks. Based on both our schedules, she came in twice the first week we met, Tuesday and Saturday. The following week we were only able to meet once, and the same for the following week. By the 4th week, which is when she was expecting to get a migraine, I saw her, and guess what, NO migraine developed while she was ovulating. Her treatment was successful and I was able to help this woman live a life free of migraine pain.
Reach out and contact us with questions
If you have questions about how to effectively and alternatively treat your migraines, please send me an email and I will be happy to discuss any and all possible options I have to offer through Silver Leaf Acupuncture.
Click here to get to my online booking site.
Do you suffer with Seasonal allergies and struggling to find relief?
This is so cliché, yet so true: April showers bring May flowers.
It’s May, the trees are in full bloom and the grass is growing green and vibrant. One of my favorite things to do is walk barefoot in the thick green grass. I take a nice deep breath while being mindful of its cooling feeling under my feet as I dig my toes into the lush bed of grass. This practice is a quick and easy way to wash away stress, and reset and ground my mind and body.
Seasonal Allergy symptoms and over the counter remedies
Even with all of this bountiful growth, does the thought of mid-spring make you feel anxious? With all nature’s blooming beauty, unfortunately also comes abundant pollen in the air. Many of my acupuncture patients come in reporting a slew of seasonal allergy symptoms including: nonstop sinus pressure, congestion, and drainage issues, red-irritated-itchy eyes, sneezing, itchy skin, hives, ears are clogged and feel pressure, post nasal drip, coughing, asthma, and fatigue. The list goes on…
If you are someone currently taking antihistamines, decongestants, using an inhaler or nasal sprays and a neti pot, then you understand that sometimes these things do not provide adequate relief. And even if these things traditionally worked for you, its possible that due to certain circumstances, you are unable to use antihistamines because you're either pregnant or breastfeeding or might have a sensitivity to the medication.
If this sounds like you, then acupuncture may be an option worth exploring. Seasonal allergy issues are a tale as old as time, and acupuncture has been providing relief for its symptoms for just as long. With that said, acupuncture is a very effective, natural, drug free way of getting relief from seasonal allergy symptoms.
I will say, a my patient from Southborough, who initially sought acupuncture treatments for insomnia, to their was surprised when I ask them if they experiences any seasonal allergy symptoms. At first they looked at me puzzled and replied “that has nothing to do with my insomnia, but yes, I do get really itchy skin and itchy eyes.” To their surprise, when they came in for their next treatment, they happily report that after telling me about their itching, it was gone after that one acupuncture treatment! They also tell me to do the same treatment again so the itching doesn’t ever come back!
DYI Acupressure for Seasonal Allergies
Acupuncture strengthens the immune and respiratory systems, so your body doesn’t react as harshly to allergens. I have provided a diagram to show a few acupuncture points traditionally used to treat sinusitis and rhinitis to reduce sinus inflammation, congestion and pressure. In addition to traditional acupuncture, acupressure is a great option too. Simply apply pressure to the points shown on this diagram for some relief.
Gua Sha, Jade Rolling, and supplements for Seasonal Allergies
Along with acupuncture, other treatment modalities you can do at home include gua sha and jade rolling, both of these will calm down the sinuses and help open them up and allow your lymphatic system to drain, so you can breathe again!
Also, there are great herbal botanical supplements that are extremely effective at draining the sinuses and relieve sinusitis and rhinitis. As a licensed herbalist, I am able to prescribe these supplements for you to take at home so you are able to get even more relief on a daily basis.
If you are suffering this season or know someone who is suffering from seasonal allergies, please have them reach out to me. I’m happy to speak with them about treatment options that will help them get through this pollen filled spring.
Scientific studies support acupuncture as an effective treatment for seasonal allergies
If you’re into the science of it all, you will find studies published on the mechanism of action on how acupuncture works scientifically. The studies show acupuncture to have a natural anti-inflammatory effect, and since pollen causes inflammation in the body this is one reason acupuncture is beneficial at reducing seasonal allergy symptoms. Scientific studies have shown acupuncture to reduce the count of inflammatory cells including eosinophil, the down regulation of cytokines IL-1 β and TNF-α, and also a reduction of IgE antibody concentrations.
Recipes for your health, curated by Margo Voskanian, MAOM, Lic. Ac. Dipl. Om.