At this time of year, it can be hard not to give in to temptations such as Christmas treats and drinks, despite the intention to eat well! For some, the result of doing so is worse than for others. If you tend to have a weak digestive system, with symptoms of bloating, abdominal cramping and diarrhoea, a few sessions of acupuncture and herbal supplementation can begin to strengthen this area.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the main organ dealing with digestion is the spleen, whose principal job is to process food taken by the stomach (its paired organ) to transform it into energy and transport it around the body. When we overwhelm the spleen with too much food, too much of the wrong kind of food or food eaten at irregular times, we damage its ability to process food well. This incomplete processing results in a condition known as ‘dampness’. The body becomes bogged down and stagnant with residue, which can then stagnate and – like a compost heap – become hot, causing pain and distention.
To avoid dampness, eat warm, cooked food, and avoid fried, sugar laden or iced foods. In order to assimilate food, the body has to first warm it to body temperature. If the qi (energy) in the gastro-intestinal (GI) organs is weak, this process requires extra work that further weakens it. Warm or properly cooked food is already partially broken down, making it easier to digest.
Another source of unpleasant GI symptoms can come from the stomach organ system. In a healthy environment, the qi moves downwards, but when overloaded, rebels and moves upwards. This can result in burping or vomiting.
Even though we know we should avoid foods that can lead to these symptoms, it can be hard to resist those extra treats during the festive season. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs – in pill or capsule form – can prevent digestive discomfort from ruining your fun.
Clare Donnelly is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner at the Lane Cove clinic. Call Clare and the clinic on 9418 9555 to discuss an appointment or to boost your digestive system health for the holidays.