The holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family to celebrate the joys of the season. But let’s face it – a lot of our joy comes from the food that accompanies our celebrations. After polishing off the kids’ Halloween candy stash, we then begin to create our Thanksgiving menu, gather Christmas cookie recipes, plan appetizers for the many holiday parties we’ll attend, and determine how to out-do last year’s Christmas meal which will be followed up by a food extravaganza for New Year’s Eve. It’s a virtual back-to-back smorgasbord of culinary delights from November through early January. And while our eyes and taste buds delight at the variety of these annual fêtes, our stomachs and digestive systems often plan revenge for the barrage of foods being processed.
Common Gastrointestinal Maladies: Retribution for overindulgence may result not only in weight gain, but also in less visible and equally uncomfortable results. Following are eight of the most common digestive issues in America according to a U.S. News and World Report article:
- Celiac Disease – gluten protein triggers an attack on the small intestine; symptoms can include abdominal pain and bloating, chronic diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and pale or fatty stool
- Constipation – hard stool or the inability to have regular bowel movements
- Diverticulitis – inflammation of a pouch in the wall of the intestinal wall that causes pain in the lower abdominal region and may be accompanied by fever
- Gallstones – small pebbles comprised of cholesterol or bile salts that inflame or infect the gallbladder, pancreas or liver; pain often presents suddenly in the upper right of the abdomen or between the shoulder blades and may be accompanied by fever or vomiting
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease – (Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis) – a faulty immune system causes the body to attack its gastrointestinal (GI) tract; individuals with either disease may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, anemia, rectal bleeding and/or weight loss
- Lactose Intolerance –an enzyme necessary to process the primary milk protein is deficient, often resulting in abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea
- Peptic Ulcers – presents as unexplained stomach pain; are sores in the stomach lining or small intestine
- Reflux – heartburn, often accompanied by sour taste in mouth and/or bile
Although the above can occur at any time of the year, they are frequently aggravated by stress and holiday food variances. Common sense and warning signs may tell us to limit our intake, but the trifecta of sight, aroma and distraction usually win out this time of year.
Treatment Options: If you are suffering from any of the aforementioned gastrointestinal issues, the first line of defense is often over-the-counter (OTC) medications and depending on the severity of your symptoms, your physician may also recommend surgical procedures. However, if your symptoms are persistent but not so severe that they require surgery, consider adding acupuncture treatments to your existing physician-led plan of care.
According to an article that appeared on the National Institute of Health website, “Pilot studies have shown that acupuncture is effective in a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders including nausea and vomiting, functional disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and diarrhea), peptic ulcer disease, Crohn’s disease, postoperative ileus, and even gall stone disease.”
And at Johns Hopkins’ Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center, they routinely provide acupuncture as a way to combat “gastrointestinal conditions, including heartburn; abdominal pain; irritable colon; diarrhea; constipation.”
A Men’s Health article reports that GI sufferers who received acupuncture treatments as part of a 2007 study by the University of Arizona found “their chest pain decreased 82 percent, heartburn dropped 83 percent, and acid reflux fell 77 percent.” The article also highlights the connection of stress to gastrointestinal disorders – something to take into consideration during the traditionally stressful holiday season.
See What Acupuncture Can Do for You: When you are ready to seek relief, contact Acupuncture Associates in Wilmington, North Carolina to schedule your initial consultation. Clients from Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties consistently rank Robert as one of the most effective and professional acupuncturists in the region – read testimonials here.