Health Intuitive

Eating Right During the Holiday Season

Overindulgence is expected but feared during the holiday season mainly because it usually ends up in digestive issues – heartburn, nausea, gas, bloating, belching, and stomach pain – as well as lethargy and feelings of sleepiness. Winning the battle against indigestion can start with a basic comprehension of how the digestive system functions. Between that initial taste and the final destination of your food lies a voyage into your digestive system with enough biochemical weaving to satiate any adventurer.

Masticate, Masticate, Masticate!

Digestion begins no sooner than food escapes from your fork or spoon into your mouth. As you chew, food is physically broken down by your teeth and by the enzymes in your spit that have names like salivary amylase and lingual lipase that chemically transform the sugars, fat, and starch in your foods.

What are enzymes?

Enzymes are substances that assist in catalyzing chemical reactions in the body, making these processes function more efficiently and faster. Digestion rests on the existence of enzymes.

You need to chew thoroughly even before you swallow. You can generate more territory for enzymes to interact with your food when you continuously chew food into a liquid paste. Greater secretion of oral enzymes that initiate the process of digestion can also be boosted. Swallowing air while chewing and with your mouth open, talking and eating at the same time, or gulping down food – can all lead to indigestion.

An Eastern Perspective

Shi zhi also known as food stagnation broadly corresponds to the stagnation and buildup of food in the digestive system (also known as the Middle Warmer) which is marked by stomach and epigastric fullness and focal distention, as well as dislike for rotten food that cause abdominal pain, smelly belching, and occasionally diarrhea. It also specifically corresponds to acute conditions that emanate from episodes of blatant overeating. Treatment is made up of eight methods, all of which talk about the dissolving or reducing technique (xiao fa). Formulas that lessen food stagnation are by nature diffusing, and tonics are specifically recommended for this; when it comes to Excess conditions, formulas that calm would be utilized. Aside from food stagnation, these methods incorporate formulas that address Dampness, Blood and Chi Stagnation, and Phlegm (a far more worse type of Dampness).

Of all herbal remedies, tonics are the most sought-after among several traditional healing systems, especially Ayuverdic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). These herbs sustain the function of certain organs, tissues, cells, and the whole person. Depending on the degrees of deficiency of a certain organ (energetic system), they can be used for certain periods of time. Tonics promote the energy of bodily functions, such as enhancing hormone balance, nerve function, and boosting the function of the immune system. They work gently and slowly, supplying nutrients that the body can use. Huge amounts are allowable for some people needing them and ginseng (ren shen) is the most popular of these tonics (Warning: this herb is so powerful at tonifying Chi; unless prescribed, a lot of doctors of Oriental Medicine do not recommend using it before the age of 50). Unnecessary and early use can actually injure Chi energies.

Middle Warmer Disharmonies (Spleen and Stomach Energies)

Strengthening stagnation or deficiencies of the Stomach and Spleen system and supporting the Chi with the use of tonics is essential. You first need to know that the abdomen likes moist and warm (for normal digestion; in TCM, raw and cold foods are not recommended because they can result in Blood and Chi disharmonies) while the Spleen is adverse to damp and cold (warmth in needed for proper energy disbursement and blood storage).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Stomach is the first area where food gets broken down into so-called impure and pure energies. Thereon, the pure energy (to be more purified and for use by the body) moves to the Spleen and is purified further into impure and more pure energy. The impure goes to the Small Intestine for further transformation. The impure energy from the Small Intestine is moved to the Large Intestine, where it is evacuated as fecal matter (the most impure energy). Proper digestion cannot take place when disharmony exists somewhere in the Middle Warmer.

A Yin Stomach Deficiency will express itself as feeling stuffed after eating, thirst with desire to drink, dry throat, dry mouth, pain in the stomach area, dry stools, constipation, fever, and no appetite. Food Retention in the Abdomen (stagnation) manifests as insomnia, sour belching, bad breath, nausea, distention and fullness in the stomach area that’s relieved by vomiting (a type of Rebellious Chi, which means energy moves in the opposite direction of its natural flow), and no appetite.

Yang and Chi Spleen Deficiencies are prevalent in the U.S. due to the Standard American Diet. However, with the willingness to make changes and patience, this form of deficiency can be resolved over time. A classic indication of Chi Spleen Deficiency is loose stools, especially when it arises after eating. Additional symptoms may include weakness of the limbs, dull and pale complexion, lassitude, fatigue, and stomach distension after eating.

The conditions listed below are seen as Excess conditions and are addressed with acupuncture and herbs to relieve (calm) the symptoms; herbs that move Chi and seep out Dampness would be incorporated in formulas for these disharmonies.

Cold Damp Infiltrating the Spleen will lead to symptoms such as stuffiness in the stomach areas and epigastrium that get better with warmth, no appetite, a heavy sensation in the head, some lassitude, white discharge in the vagina, thin and loose stools, lack of thirst and taste, sour taste in the mouth, slow gastrointestinal movement of food, and overall sensation of heaviness.

Gastric esophageal disease aka acid regurgitation or GERD is viewed as a manifestation of Constraint due to Stagnation of Chi; its other symptoms include an oppressive feeling in the stomach/chest, hypochondriac pain with focal distention, poor appetite, belching, nausea and/or vomiting.

Acupuncture in Bellingham, Herbs, or Both?

For all forms of indigestion, acupuncture is not considered a cure-all. The obvious recommendation for overindulgence is to eat less. Other reasons for indigestion, i.e., stress and hiatal hernia, respond well with acupuncture treatments. Deficiency syndromes works best with herbs and acupuncture. They are ideal in dispersing (moving) Chi stagnation and in liberating the external manifestations of Excess. As the patient starts to get better, the formulas can be recalibrated over time (since tonics work slowly). Usually, a few visits to an acupuncturist can improve the flow of stagnant Chi and the patient can expect to feel almost instantaneous relief.

Recommendations

Alfalfa supplements should include vitamin K (as well as other vital nutrients, due to its long roots); it could be taken in tablet, capsule, or liquid form.

An ideal treatment for GI symptoms including heartburn is Aloe Vera juice. Drinking a quarter cup of this juice thrice a day; you can mix it with room temperature fruit juice or water if you can’t tolerate drinking it straight.

Making fennel tea, chewing its seeds, or grinding and sprinkling them on food may be used to treat a sour abdomen. Other good essential herbs for this condition include lemon balm, peppermint, fenugreek, and catnip.

You can use slippery elm to alleviate colon inflammation; you can buy this herb in capsule or tea form.

Eat foods rich in fiber and stay away from beans, bakery products, carbonated beverages, caffeine, fried/fatty foods, citrus juices, peppers, white flour (pasta), , red meat (very hard to digest), snack foods like potato chips, spicy or salty foods, and refined sugars.

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