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How to Treat Nausea With Acupuncture and TCM


By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.


Nausea can be caused by many different health conditions.

Feeling nauseous, nauseated, queasy? Feel like vomiting or throwing up? Nausea can be brought on by many different health conditions. Acupuncture and TCM can provide nausea help in many situations, whatever the cause of nausea.

Nausea is that feeling that you have to vomit, or throw up. It’s an uneasy feeling that is often referred to as being “sick to your stomach.” Feeling nauseous may or may not precede actually vomiting.

Nausea is a symptom, not a disease in and of itself. There are many different kinds of health issues that can make you feel nauseated, or cause you to vomit.


Symptoms of Nausea

A queasy stomach is often accompanied by other symptoms. Nausea can often include or coincide with:

  1. Feeling like you are going to vomit
  2. Stomach ache, pain in belly
  3. No appetite, stomach turns at the thought or sight of food
  4. Sweating, clammy skin
  5. Salivating, swallowing a lot
  6. Uneasy feeling in the back of your throat
  7. Contractions of the respiratory or abdominal muscles
  8. Retching
  9. Dizziness
  10. Headache

Sometimes people feel nauseous after eating, or have a headache and nausea, or dizziness and nausea.

Some of the most common causes of nausea are a stomach flu, or gastrointestinal virus, morning sickness during pregnancy, and motion sickness.

There are many reasons why a person may feel nauseated, related to various health conditions. 

Acupuncture and TCM provide a very effective way to help relieve nausea caused by all kinds of health issues.


Why Do I Feel Nauseous?

Stomach upset
Stomach upset, excessive salivation, and dizziness are nausea symptoms.

We all know what it is like to feel car sick or have a 24-hour stomach bug that makes us feel queasy and vomit. But sometimes we have recurrent nausea and do not know why.

The cause of nausea can sometimes be hard to pinpoint, if nausea comes and goes, or becomes a chronic, ongoing problem. 


Top 10 Causes of Nausea

The medical conditions that most commonly  cause nausea include:

  1. GERD – Acid reflux can cause excess salivation and regurgitation of food
  2. IBS – irritable bowel syndrome can lead to changing symptoms of nausea, gas, diarrhea, and constipation
  3. IBD – inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis can cause nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
  4. Hepatitis – HBV or Hepatitis C can cause loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain
  5. Migraines – nausea and vomiting can be part of a migraine headache 
  6. Meniere’s disease – inner ear problem that can cause dizziness, vertigo, and nausea
  7. Anxiety – anxious feelings, depression, and other mental health issues like claustrophobia or PTSD can cause nausea
  8. Pregnancy – morning sickness
  9. Diverticulitis – inflamed sacs in the intestine can cause gas, bloating, and nausea
  10. Guillain-Barre syndrome – autoimmune disease affecting the neurological system can cause nausea in addition to muscle weakness and fatigue
  11. HIV/AIDS – people experiencing the acute phase of HIV often feel nauseated and fatigued

Being constipated can cause nausea. 

Bacterial meningitis, swelling of the brain that can happen due to a bacterial or viral infection, can cause nausea, vomiting, and fever.

Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects digestion, can often cause nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain.

People often feel nauseated or vomit when experiencing a gallbladder attack or when passing a kidney stone.

Hormonal changes during PMS, the menstrual period, ovulation, and pregnancy can cause nausea.

nausea and headache
Nausea and headache may happen due to migraines.

Nausea and vomiting can often be side effects of medications that are used to treat some conditions. Opioid painkillers, in particular, can cause dizziness and nausea.

Stomach ulcers, or peptic ulcers, can cause nausea, as can gastroparesis.

Antibiotics can cause nausea and diarrhea. Even NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and and Motrin can cause nausea or stomach upset. Some blood pressure medications can also cause queasiness.

Feeling nauseous is a common side effect of chemotherapy for cancer treatment

TCM has acupuncture protocols and herbal formulas to help alleviate the nausea associated with all of the conditions listed above.


Nausea Medicine

Most people probably have OTC preparations to relieve nausea and stomach upset in their medicine cabinet, such as Pepto-Bismol, or Dramamine to prevent motion sickness.

If you seek medical care for recurrent or chronic nausea, you may be prescribed antiemetics (such as promethazine), which block the receptors in the brain that trigger nausea sensation.

Drugs known as prokinetic agents work by affecting the lower esophageal sphincter and moving food more quickly through the digestive system. Erythromycin and domperidone are examples.

Certain antihistamines, like Benadryl, are also sometimes prescribed to help reduce nausea, as they block certain chemical responses and reduce stomach acids that can cause nausea.

More recently, cannabinoids may be used medicinally to help quell nausea. These may be prescribed as a synthetic form of TCH.

While these medications may help to relieve nausea in some cases, they do generally come with side effects, like drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, or vision problems.

Acupuncture is widely considered to be an effective modality to treat nausea, without any side effects.


Can Acupuncture Help Nausea?

One of the foundational principles of TCM theory is that an acupuncturist may use the “same treatment for different diseases.”

This means that while a condition, such as nausea, may be caused by any one of several different internal or external factors, the treatment may be the same. It also refers to the concept that many different types of conditions can be caused by a disharmony in a particular organ system. 

Therefore, using acupuncture and herbs to bring balance to a particular organ system can help relieve many disorders that would be considered separate and distinct from one another in modern conventional medicine.

acupressure point p6 for nausea
acupressure point P6 helps relieve nausea

There are several key acupuncture points that will have a positive effect on the reduction of nausea, and no matter what is the cause of nausea, they will work in many cases to alleviate nausea in the short term. The point known as P6, in particular, is a classic point for quickly quelling queasiness.

Beyond that, a TCM practitioner will look carefully at other symptoms to find the root cause, which may be related to a deficiency of stomach or spleen Qi. These are the organs primarily responsible for the processing of food. If there is too much heat or phlegm in the stomach or spleen, there will be indigestion.

Emotional factors can also affect the stomach Qi. Worry, repetitive thoughts and rumination are associated with stomach problems in TCM. Acupuncture can also help to relieve the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety.

The liver also plays a role in digestion, by producing bile. So when any one of these organs is stagnant or not functioning smoothly, it can cause indigestion and the reversal of stomach Qi – causing the energy to move upwards rather than downwards.

One study of patients suffering from mild to moderate nausea and dyspepsia who had not responded to conventional medications showed that symptoms were greatly reduced after just three acupuncture sessions.

Acupuncture can help relieve nausea caused by morning sickness and other conditions because it affects the release of endorphins and ACTH, a pituitary hormone that inhibits the vomiting trigger response. 

A research study that looked at thousands of cases found the acupuncture was effective at reducing nausea due to morning sickness, as well as postoperative nausea and chemotherapy induced nausea.

Chinese herbs can also be used to help balance the organ Qi and to relieve stomach upset. Your acupuncturist will create a formula that addresses both nausea symptoms and the deeper issues that are the cause of nausea.

Ginger is also one of the most effective natural remedies for nausea. A few slices of fresh ginger, with the skin still on, steeped in hot water as a tea can help relieve nausea in many situations.


Acupuncture Near Me for Nausea in Los Angeles

TCM offers nausea help for people of all ages, with all types of health issues. Drs. Tan and Cai at Art of Wellness in West Los Angeles have 35 years of experience helping people with all types of gastrointestinal disorders, hormonal conditions, and autoimmune conditions. Our expertise in reproductive health allows them to help women who experience morning sickness or nausea during ovulation or menstrual issues. We also have extensive experience helping cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy feel more comfortable and deal with side effects of cancer treatment.

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.



How to Treat Gallbladder Pain With Acupuncture and TCM


By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.


gallbladder pain gallstones
Gallbladder pain can be severe and accompanied by nausea.

Pain on right side abdomen? Sudden, sharp right abdomen pain? This could be a sign of a gallstone or gallbladder issue. Gallbladder attacks can cause severe gallbladder pain. Acupuncture and TCM can provide an alternative or adjunct treatment for gallstones symptoms.

The gallbladder is a small organ located on the right side of your abdomen, under the liver. The liver produces bile, a liquid that helps break down fats into fatty acids. The gallbladder stores bile and releases it  into the small intestine as needed, to help with digestion.

When the bile that your body produces has too much cholesterol or bilirubin in it, or when bile is not draining out of the gallbladder properly, it can become too concentrated and begin to harden into a solid.

Gallbladder pain usually occurs because a person has gallstones, which are just what they sound like: little stones that develop inside the gallbladder and are made up mostly of cholesterol. The medical term for gallstones is “cholilithiasis.” 

Many people have gallstones and are not aware of it. It is possible to have gallstones with no symptoms at all.


Top 5 Gallstone Symptoms

People who have gallbladder disease or gallstones are likely to experience a condition known as “biliary colic.” This means that they have an intolerance for fatty foods and may experience dyspepsia, nausea, and/or bloating when they eat something that disagrees with them.

Severe, sharp right side stomach pain is the most common sign of a gallbladder attack, which is when a gallstone becomes lodged in one of the small tubes or ducts that lead to and from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas. 


Gallbladder symptoms may include:

  1. Pain in lower right abdomen
  2. Nausea and/or vomiting
  3. Yellow skin and/or yellow eyes, jaundice
  4. Fever and/or chills
  5. Brown pee, brown urine, light-colored poop

Sometimes gallbladder pain can refer to the right shoulder, or between the shoulderblades. 

Gallbladder pain can also happen due to inflammation of the gallbladder. This condition is known as cholecystitis and occurs when a gallstone blocks the duct that leads out of the bladder, causing bile and bacteria to build up and become infected.

Stones can sometimes become lodged in the common bile duct, which not only causes pain, but can lead to pancreatitis. Gallstones are the primary cause of acute pancreatitis, in which the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed due to a backup of bile and/or digestive enzymes.

The pain of a gallbladder attack is unignorable. If it doesn’t go away within a few hours, most people choose to go to the emergency room for urgent care.

Gallstones may pass on their own, or drugs are sometimes used to help dissolve the gallstones. These drugs can be expensive, and sometimes cause problems like atherosclerosis, or fatty buildup in the arteries.

When gallstone pain comes and goes, and the gallstones are present but not causing the blockage of a duct, usually pain management and patience are the only treatment.

If gallbladder issues keep coming up, the typical medical treatment is gallbladder surgery.

Acupuncture can offer an alternative treatment to help relieve gallbladder pain. TCM is considered an effective treatment for biliary colic due to gallbladder disease.


Gallbladder Removal

gallbladder removal
Gallbladder removal is very common.

It is very common for people presenting with acute pancreatitis or a gallbladder attack to have a cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal. Over 300,000 cholecystectomies are performed in the U.S. each year.

While this gallbladder surgery is usually done laparoscopically and is minimally invasive, there are disadvantages to living without a gallbladder.

Some people have what is known as postcholecystectomy syndrome, in which they continue to experience pain on right side abdomen, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, and vomiting, even though their gallbladder is gone.

Some research studies have suggested that gallbladder removal may not be necessary or desirable for everyone. It may be worth considering alternative or adjunct gallbladder pain treatment with TCM and acupuncture.

Can Acupuncture Help Gallbladder Symptoms?

Chinese medicine has been used to treat gallstones for thousands of years, without surgery.

According to TCM theory, the gallbladder is the Yang organ that ideally works cooperatively and in harmony with the Yin liver. The gallbladder is an extraordinary organ in that it is part of the digestive system, but it never comes in direct contact with the food you eat. It stores and secretes bile to help break down fats.

In TCM, we consider the gallbladder to represent the part of our nature that makes decisions, takes action, and feels inspired. When the liver and the gallbladder are not functioning smoothly, we may feel frustrated, angry, and depressed. Repressing anger can exacerbate gallbladder problems, as can eating the wrong foods.

green tea
Green tea and leafy green vegetables are good for your gallbladder health.

In TCM, the gallbladder is associated with spring, and the wood element. It is best nourished with lots of dark, leafy greens, herbs, roots, and green tea. Eating too many fatty, fried foods, and drinking too much alcohol can have a very negative effect on both the liver and gallbladder.

The stimulation of acupoints along the gallbladder meridian can help to regulate the sphincters of the gallbladder and its action, and help to promote the secretion of bile so that it does not remain stagnant inside the gallbladder. 

Acupuncture can also have an analgesic effect that may even be superior to that of NSAIDs pain relief medications, without any of the side effects that may occur with regular use of these drugs.

Acupuncture can also be used to treat chronic cholecystitis, the chronic inflammation of the gallbladder due to infection. TCM treatment can help reduce inflammation and improve immune function so that infections can be more easily fought off.

Acupuncture and TCM can also be used as an adjunct treatment to help boost the efficacy of conventional medications. One study showed that patients who were given cefodizime for chronic cholecystitis and also received acupuncture had a 98% effective rate, as opposed to patients who received the medication only, who had only a 50% effective rate.

There are many Chinese herb preparations designed to help with gallstones. These formulas are based on TCM theories related to clearing the stagnation of Qi and blood in the liver and gallbladder, removing dampness and heat and treating yin deficiency.

These herbs have been shown to help discharge gallstones, control the metabolism of bilirubin, and help to prevent the formation of new stones in the future.


Acupuncture Near Me for Gallbladder Pain in West Los Angeles

Acupuncture and TCM can provide natural treatments for gallstones and many other problems related to the digestive system, such as diarrhea, constipation, Crohn’s disease, colitis, IBS, diverticulitis, and celiac disease. If you are experiencing abdominal pain and other digestive symptoms, consider consulting with a TCM practitioner. Acupuncture can help prevent conditions like gallstones from getting worse.

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.



How to Treat Diverticulitis With Acupuncture and TCM


By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. and Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.


diverticulitis pain in left abdomen
Pain in lower left abdomen can be a sign of diverticulitis.

Pain in lower left abdomen? Stomach pain or pain in lower abdomen? Nausea, vomiting? Constipation or diarrhea? These may be diverticulitis symptoms. Acupuncture and TCM offer a way to help relieve diverticulitis pain and restore normal bowel function.

Diverticulosis refers to the presence of small sacs or pouches of tissue inside the large intestine, most often the colon (colonic diverticulitis), which are called “diverticula.”

Diverticulitis refers to the condition that occurs when the sacs become inflamed and infected. Diverticulitis causes pain and other symptoms like bloating and pain in left abdomen that might feel better after you pass gas or have a bowel movement.

Diverticular disease is becoming more and more common and is particularly widespread amongst older people, with at least half of all people over the age of 60 showing signs of diverticulosis.

While medical science has not definitively determined why people develop diverticulosis, it is believed to be due to eating a diet that is low in fiber and high in fatty foods like red meat.

Sedentary lifestyle (lack of exercise), being overweight or obese, smoking cigarettes, and regular use of anti-inflammatory medications or OTC pain medications (NSAIDs) may also be factors in the development of diverticulosis.

Many people have diverticulosis but are unaware of it because they don’t have any symptoms. It is only when the diverticula become infected and inflamed that diverticulitis treatment becomes necessary.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diverticulitis treatment that can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the colon.


Top 5 Diverticulitis Symptoms


diverticulitis pain in abdomen
Diverticulitis pain may be constant or come and go.

Diverticulitis symptoms are believed to occur because something like a bit of undigested food or stool becomes trapped inside one of the diverticula, and then bacteria start to grow, causing an infection. 

While a person can have diverticulosis for a long time without any signs, symptoms of diverticulitis may come on suddenly and be quite severe.

The common signs of diverticulitis include:

  1. Abdominal pain or cramping, particularly pain in lower left abdomen—although in Asian countries, pain in lower right abdomen seems to be more prevalent. The pain may be constant, or it can come and go.
  2. Nausea and/or vomiting
  3. Fever and/or chills
  4. Constipation or diarrhea
  5. Rectal bleeding, bloody stool

Sometimes diverticulitis may cause a total lack of appetite and sudden weight loss, as a person just stops feeling like eating anything.

Diverticulitis can sometimes lead to more serious complications, like an abscess—which is when the infected area swells and fills with pus—or perforation of the bowel wall. These kinds of issues may require surgery.


Diverticulitis Treatment

Some other gastrointestinal disorders can present with symptoms that are similar to those of diverticulitis, such as: colitis or inflammatory bowel disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or bowel obstruction. Gynecological problems like endometriosis, an ovarian cyst, or an ectopic pregnancy could also cause severe pain in the lower left abdomen. A UTI could also cause acute abdominal pain.

Diagnosis of diverticulitis will usually begin with a doctor feeling the abdomen for signs of tenderness, then they will order tests (blood tests, urine tests, and/or stool tests) to check for infection. Once other problems have been ruled out, a CT scan may show the diverticula (infected sacs/pouches in the large intestine). 

There is some debate about when to perform a colonoscopy in cases of diverticulitis, as the procedure can cause perforations of the intestinal lining to become worse. Usually, a colonoscopy is recommended several weeks after a person has recovered from an acute attack of diverticulitis.

Because diverticulitis is usually caused by an infection, the most common medical treatment is a course of antibiotics, along with rest and pain relievers, until the acute symptoms have abated. A liquid diet may be indicated until the situation improves, with the gradual reintroduction of solid foods.

Recommendations will usually include that a person quits smoking (if they smoke) and makes changes in their diet: especially eating less meat and fatty foods and increasing fiber intake. It used to be common for doctors to tell their patients not to eat foods like popcorn, seeds, or nuts, under the assumption that small, hard kernels might become trapped in the diverticula and cause irritation. However, more research has shown that eating these types of foods does not seem to cause flare-ups of diverticulitis.

If these treatments do not help to relieve diverticulitis pain, or if a complication like an abscess or perforation in the colon wall develops, surgery may be necessary. The most common surgery for diverticulitis is a colon resection, which involves removing the part(s) of the large intestine that have been damaged. Sometimes it is not possible to repair the colon completely, and in these cases, a person may have to have a colostomy.

Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative or adjunct treatment for diverticulitis that can help reduce inflammation in the bowel and relieve abdominal pain.


Can Acupuncture Help Diverticulitis?

acupuncture treament diverticulitis
Diverticulitis treatment with acupuncture

An acupuncturist will make a TCM diagnosis based on where and what kind of abdominal pain and other diverticulitis symptoms a patient is experiencing. According to TCM theory, pain and problems with the digestive organs can be related both to stagnant Qi (life energy) or blood in that area, and the presence of a pathogenic force like dampness, heat, or cold. 

The quality of diverticulitis pain and how it changes when you eat or move your bowels will provide clues as to what the root cause is.

In TCM, the spleen is considered to be responsible for turning nutrients into energy; when it is not functioning well, a person may have diarrhea. Strengthening the spleen is usually an important part of TCM treatment for diverticulitis and other digestive disorders.

Your acupuncture practitioner can help relieve symptoms like nausea, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach pain, while also helping to heal and strengthen the lining of the intestines and reducing inflammation. Boosting immune function will help prevent further infections.

It is generally necessary for a person with diverticulosis to make changes in their dietary habits. While increasing intake of fiber and fluids is important, there are probably even more specific foods that are triggering the dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system, creating excess heat or dampness in the internal organs. TCM nutrition views all foods as having properties that either cool or warm the body. So, your acupuncturist will be able to advise you on what food program will work best to balance your health.

In general, nourishing broths, soups, and well-cooked vegetables with lean proteins and whole grains with plenty of fiber are the best diet for people with diverticulitis. Avoid cold, raw foods, fatty foods, red meat, and dairy.


Acupuncture Near Me for Diverticulitis In West Los Angeles

Acupuncture and TCM provide an effective way to treat abdominal pain and gastrointestinal disorders of all kinds. At Art of Wellness, we have over 35 years of experience helping people find pain relief and improve their digestive health.

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.


How to Treat Diarrhea With Acupuncture and TCM


By Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.


Diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain
Diarrhea, stomach cramping & abdominal pain can be helped with acupuncture.

Chronic diarrhea, explosive diarrhea, diarrhea after eating? Diarrhea may be related to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), or an IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), or a reaction to a food allergy, parasites, or stress. Acupuncture and TCM offer an alternative diarrhea treatment, so you can get relief from stomach pain and diarrhea.


Why Do I Have Diarrhea?

There can be many different causes of diarrhea, also known as loose stool. Acute diarrhea, which only lasts one or two days, will usually go away on its own.

Watery diarrhea that lasts a few days is usually due to food poisoning. Eating something that was rotten, or not cooked properly to destroy bacteria, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Watery diarrhea can also happen when you have some type of viral infection, such as the “stomach flu.”

Chronic diarrhea, or persistent diarrhea, which lasts for weeks, or bouts of diarrhea that come and go frequently, may be related to IBS symptoms, IBD symptoms, Celiac disease, or some other problem. 

More than 6% of adults in the U.S. report having chronic diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea in children is also a serious health concern worldwide. 


Top 10 Causes of Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common condition that everyone experiences sometimes. Usually it is temporary, but it can become persistent and serious enough to require diarrhea treatment. The most common reasons a person experiences loose bowel movements include:

  1. Bacterial infection, traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, unsafe drinking water
  2. Viral infection, such as rotavirus, viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu
  3. Parasite infection, such as giardiasis
  4. Food allergy, food intolerance, food sensitivity, Celiac disease
  5. Reaction to medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, or Metformin
  6. Reaction to radiation therapy, cancer treatment
  7. IBS – diarrhea, constipation, and stomach cramps are common IBS symptoms 
  8. IBD – colitis or Crohn’s disease, inflammatory autoimmune disorders that affect the gut
  9. Malabsorption of food, poor absorption of nutrients
  10. Menstrual cycle or Perimenopause – changes in hormones/estrogen can cause diarrhea

Certain foods can cause diarrhea, including: too much coffee, artificial sweeteners like mannitol and sorbitol, and red food coloring. Magnesium supplements can also cause loose stools.

If diarrhea lasts more than a few days, it is important to seek healthcare advice. Chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration and fatigue, and may be happening because of some more serious condition that needs to be addressed.


What Causes Chronic Diarrhea?

diarrhea loose stool sign of IBS or IBD
Frequent diarrhea may be a sign of IBS or and IBD.

Bouts of diarrhea that keep recurring can be a symptom of disorders such as:


  • IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) – the most common IBDs are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD symptoms usually include bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. IBDs can cause chronic or recurring diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and weight loss. IBDs can be mild, or so serious that they cause long-lasting damage to the gastrointestinal tract.


  • Ulcerative colitis – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation and ulcers, or open sores, in the lower gastrointestinal system, including the colon and rectum.


  • Crohn’s disease – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation mainly in the small intestine, but can affect any part of the GI tract. 


  • IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome can seem similar to IBDs, also causing recurring bouts of diarrhea and stomach pain. However, IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder. It is quite common. People with IBS symptoms may have alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. People who tend to have more diarrhea-dominant IBS have “IBS-D.”


  • Celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder in which a reaction to eating wheat gluten causes serious inflammation of the GI system, leading to abdominal pain, bloated stomach, diarrhea, malnutrition, fatigue, and skin rashes.

With these conditions, diarrhea is brought on periodically—sometimes alternating with constipation, as in some cases of IBS—by factors having to do with the diet or stress, or with autoimmune processes.

Some surgeries that affect the gastrointestinal organs—like gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or gallbladder removal—can cause chronic diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea can be caused by an inability of the intestinal walls to absorb nutrients, and/or of the walls of the colon to absorb liquid. It may also be due to excessive action of the intestine in terms of peristalsis, the squeezing of the intestine to move matter through.


Diarrhea Treatment

Acute diarrhea usually goes away on its own in a day or two. Often, people will use OTC remedies for diarrhea and stomach pain, such as Immodium or Pepto-Bismol.

If you have been experiencing persistent diarrhea and seek medical advice, a doctor will perform tests to figure out what is causing the diarrhea, and will offer electrolyte fluids to help with dehydration. Blood tests or a stool test will show if the diarrhea is due to a bacterial infection or parasitic infection.

If chronic diarrhea is determined to be related to a medication you are already taking, then that may need to be adjusted.

Discovery of IBS or an IBD usually involves more diagnostic testing, including a colonoscopy and/or endoscopy, to see if there is inflammation or blockage in the GI tract.

Medical treatment for IBS may involve being offered antispasmodic medications that relax the intestinal walls and slow down the movement of the bowels and can help relieve stomach cramps and abdominal cramping. Dietary changes and behavioral therapy may be recommended.

Pharmacological treatment for IBDs like colitis and Crohn’s usually involves taking a combination of anti-inflammatories and immunosuppressants, to reduce inflammation in the gut and to block the inappropriate autoimmune responses that are triggering the inflammation. Unfortunately, steroids and medications like Xeljanz can cause other side effects and health problems. 

Medical treatment for chronic diarrhea may help relieve symptoms and reduce the frequency of bouts of diarrhea, but it does not necessarily address the underlying causes of diarrhea. 

Acupuncture and TCM offer an effective alternative treatment for diarrhea that is more suited to each patient’s individual situation.


Can Acupuncture Help Diarrhea?


acupuncture treatment for diarrhea IBS IBD
Acupuncture treatment can help relieve diarrhea.

Chronic diarrhea, according to TCM theory, is usually considered to be related to the health of the spleen. In TCM, the organ systems all interact harmoniously, unless there is imbalance. The imbalance of one organ system may throw off other systems, leading to various symptoms. 

In TCM, the spleen is responsible for breaking down the nutrients from food and converting them into energy. If the spleen is not functioning properly, watery stool is often the result. Diarrhea, stomach pain, and other symptoms may differ from person to person, depending on how the spleen is interacting with the liver, stomach, or kidneys.

Common Chinese Medicine diagnosis patterns for chronic diarrhea include:

  • Spleen Deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation: mucus in the stool, abdominal pain, cramping, gassiness, bloated stomach, irritability, and feelings of depression 


  • Spleen Deficiency with Stomach deficiency: watery stools, poor appetite, feeling full quickly, stomach distended after eating, pallor, and fatigue


  • Spleen Deficiency with Kidney Deficiency: diarrhea in the morning, partially digested food in the stool, abdominal pain, lower back pain, knee pain, feeling cold


Acupuncture treatment for diarrhea, which may include moxibustion and herbs, aims to support the health of the spleen and other organs. Acupuncture has been shown to help relieve diarrhea and constipation related to IBS. Acupuncture treatment can also help with reducing stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for IBS symptoms.

Acupuncture can also help with diarrhea due to IBDs like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by reducing inflammation and helping to balance immune responses. TCM treatment for Crohn’s disease or colitis, incorporating nutrition and herbal supplements, can help improve the gut biome and strengthen the lining of the intestinal walls.

Acupuncture for Diarrhea Near Me, Los Angeles, West L.A., and Santa Monica

TCM treatment with an experienced acupuncturist near me can be very beneficial for anyone dealing with ongoing gastrointestinal distress. Both adults and children can find relief from diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, bloating, and abdominal pain related to conditions like IBS, IBDs, or celiac disease through acupuncture and herbs. At Art of Wellness, we have over 30 years of experience helping people with gastric disorders of all kinds.

*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.


How to Treat Constipation With Acupuncture and TCM


By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D. & Qineng Tan, L.Ac., Ph.D.

woman on toilet
If going to the bathroom is difficult or painful, it means you’re constipated.

Using a laxative or stool softener so that you can have a bowel movement? Everyone experiences constipation once in a while, but chronic constipation can be a serious issue. Acupuncture and TCM offer a natural way to get constipation relief.

Having difficulty going to the bathroom (pooping) is unfortunately a very common problem. Millions of people see their doctor seeking constipation treatment every year. People of all ages—children, adults, and older people—can suffer from slow digestion and hard bowel movements.

Symptoms of constipation can include:

  • Dry, hard stool
  • Having less than three bowel movements per week
  • Bowel movements are difficult and/or painful
  • Bloated stomach
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea

Basically, constipation occurs when the muscles of the large intestine are not properly moving matter through and out of the colon. Slow movement can result in too much water being absorbed by the colon, causing hard, dry stools.

In general, “normal” bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass, and should happen daily. However, it is not at all uncommon for people to have painful constipation and only go a few times a week, or have even less frequent bowel movements (severe constipation).

There can be many different reasons why there is an imbalance of water in the colon, or that the muscles aren’t functioning well enough. These deeper causes need to be addressed if chronic constipation is becoming an issue.

Fortunately, TCM treatment for constipation includes traditional herb formulations that have been used for centuries as a natural laxative, and acupuncture, which can help strengthen the muscle action of the intestines.

Constipation Causes

stomach pain constipation
Abdominal pain and bloating can be signs of constipation.

Constipation can occasionally occur due to short-term circumstances. Many people experience temporary constipation while they are on a trip and using unfamiliar bathrooms. Eating foods that are unusual for you or low in fiber, becoming dehydrated, not getting any physical activity for several days—these situations could all cause sluggish elimination.

IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which is considered a functional gastrointestinal disorder, often involves periodic constipation (or diarrhea).

Chronic constipation or severe constipation can have many causes. Sometimes constipation can be caused by a bowel obstruction, or something physically blocking the intestine.

Constipation can also be a secondary condition related to another chronic health problem. 

Conditions that cause damage to nerves may disrupt the signals that tell the muscles of the colon to move. These could include:

Hormonal imbalances or fluctuations can also lead to constipation. Hormone-related conditions that could contribute to constipation include:

Some medications can cause constipation, such as:

  • Narcotics, opioid pain medications (such as Vicodin)
  • NSAIDs, like ibuprofen
  • Some antidepressants (like Zoloft)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Sedatives
  • Iron supplements
  • Antacids like Maalox or Mylanta
  • Diuretics
  • Medications for overactive bladder, like Ditropan and Detrol
  • Parkinson’s medications, like Sinemet
  • Nausea medications

Using laxatives and other over-the-counter constipation remedies as a habit can, unfortunately, perpetuate the cycle and lead to ongoing, chronic constipation.

Mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can also affect regularity. TCM and acupuncture can help improve mental health as well as physical health to help bring constipation relief.

Constipation Side Effects

It is very important to find the root cause of constipation and find a solution. Chronic constipation can lead to other serious complications, such as:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Diverticulitis
  • Fecal impaction
  • Stress urinary incontinence

Fortunately, acupuncture and TCM offer natural remedies for constipation without habit-forming medications. 


Can Acupuncture Help Relieve Constipation?

acupuncture for constipation
Acupuncture treatment can help bring constipation relief.

In TCM, we diagnose a condition based on the pattern of symptoms each individual person is experiencing, as sometimes the same condition—in this case, constipation—can actually be influenced by many different variables. The diagnostic pattern gives us information about what acupuncture points and herbs will help treat that individual case.

According to TCM theory, constipation can present as:

  • Yin Deficiency
  • Excess Heat
  • Qi Deficiency

In older people, chronic constipation is often related to weakness in the kidneys and liver, which leads to malnourishment and stagnant Qi. 

In general, TCM constipation treatment will focus on helping to bring more moisture into the colon and clear heat, while activating the Qi (energy) of the bowel and removing physical and energetic blockages.

Many people who suffer from constipation don’t have enough microbiota or “good bacteria” in their colon. Acupuncture and herbs can help to improve the gut biome.

One study showed that electro-acupuncture helped a significant number of people with chronic constipation have more frequent bowel movements.

One study conducted in China found that, after 20 sessions, gastrointestinal patients who received acupuncture for constipation had a success rate of over 82%, meaning they had more frequent and easier bowel movements.

Another study showed that patients who went through a series of acupuncture treatments sustained longer-lasting efficacy from their treatment than patients who had used medicinal laxatives.

One commonly used Chinese formulation for constipation has been shown to help increase levels of oleamide, which is associated with intestinal motility.

Acupuncture Near Me for Constipation in Los Angeles and Santa Monica

At Art of Wellness, we often treat patients for constipation, whether that is their primary complaint, or sometimes a secondary issue to their other concerns. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are excellent modalities for helping people achieve regularity and better overall digestion.


*This article is for education from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine only. The education provided by this article is not approved by FDA to diagnose, prevent, treat and cure human diseases. It should not stop you from consulting with your physician for your medical conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on Qi, which is an invisible force that usually cannot be observed by modern science. Because science focuses on testing ideas about the natural world with evidence obtained through observation, these aspects of acupuncture can’t be studied by science. Therefore acupuncture and Chinese herbs are often not supported by double-blind, randomized trials, and they are considered alternative medicine therapies in the United States.

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