– Stomach trouble? This one is for you-

Who doesn’t love to eat?! I know I do, I love every aspect of it – food preparation, smell, taste! But its a lot less enjoyable when you experience digestive disturbances. I would estimate that about 90% of my clientele come in with what they commonly call “stomach trouble.” Bloating, gas, nausea, loose stool, gurgling in the stomach, the list goes on…. it is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing.

There are a number of reasons that can lead to digestive disturbances. Firstly,  it is important to be aware of what you are ingesting. It is amazing what our digestion tells us about everything going on in the body. A lot of digestive issues, along with other ailments, can be eliminated or greatly decreased when you take a look at your diet and alter it based on what your body is telling you. I personally have a poor digestive system and have used acupuncture to help regulate it along with being aware of what I am eating. An example is preservatives! My body has a strong hate-on for preservatives it would seem. So (for the most part) I simply eat food that comes from the earth, preferably organic. I started changing what I was putting into my body and bing, bang, boom – my digestive disturbances decreased tenfold. I have become quite passionate about learning different ways to prepare food, or different foods to eat all together. Food is not always the main reason for digestive disturbances, but it does tend to be common with the way food is prepared/ packaged today.

A second, common reason for digestion troubles is the Spleen. When I speak of the Spleen it is notSpleen the physical Spleen that we commonly know from Western Medicine. In Chinese Medicine, the Spleen (not your anatomical Spleen but the Spleen Qi) is very sensitive, and has large control over digestion symptoms. In our world we are constantly on the go and rarely take time to rest or to create a space of stillness to calm our bodies and minds.  This does not benefit the Spleen and when the Spleen becomes deficient we will start to see more digestive abnormalities. Acupuncture has been proven to be very efficient to help alleviate the symptoms of poor digestion. From person to person, the treatment will be slightly different depending on the pathology. Acupuncture helps tonify the Spleen and regulate the Qi in the body, but you still need to do your part to eat less raw fruits and veggies and to do relaxing activities.

A third possibility is if there is heat in your stomach… meaning in your physical stomach and also the Stomach Qi. If you come in with symptoms that look like heat in your stomach, then along with weekly treatments to regulate the stomach and expel heat, you also need to decrease spicy and hot food (temperature and energetics) from your diet.

And lastly, another way we can look at bloating, gas, bowel movement abnormalities, pain in the abdomen, and more is to look at your emotional well-being. Our emotions can easily derail pretty much every aspect of our physical body if we don’t deal with them and let them go. What I love about acupuncture is how wellness is seen as a complete package – you may just think you have pain after eating, but so often your body is reacting to something your mind hasn’t wanted to process.

I could go on and on about digestive disturbances, but at least now you know a bit more about it. If you are experiencing “stomach trouble,” pay attention to what your body reacts to, take note of the stress and business in your life, or any emotional or mental duress that may be coming up. And of course, I am always happy to help as well.


– What is acupuncture? –

Ah, yes. I remember the first time I went for acupuncture:

You’re going to put needles where?

What is it going to feel like?

What exactly is this going to do?

These were all questions I really wanted an answer to before my acupuncturist started poking around. And if you have the same questions, they are totally legitimate! You can read about how acupuncture has helped me personally on my info page but I wanted to share with you a ‘Cole’s Notes’ version of what acupuncture is and importantly, how to ensure you are in good hands with a knowledgeable Acupuncturist.

So, what exactly is acupuncture? Acupuncture is a part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). It is an ancient (and by ancient I mean 5,000 + years old) oriental medical science and healing art. Like all TCM, acupuncture is based on Yin and Yang which means opposite but complimentary. The idea is that your body has energy lines called meridians running head to toe. Energy or Qi (pronounced “chee”) can become stagnant or deficient due to a variety of reasons. When either stagnation or a deficiency occurs, you get sick, or just feel out of balance. This can impact you physically, mentally and emotionally. Acupuncture views the body as a holistic organism with mind body and spirit very much connected so if one thing is out, it can impact other areas (Yin and Yang!). By inserting tiny needles into specific acupuncture points, the energy is stimulated in that area to heal or re-balance. It’s not as easy as just sticking needles in anywhere. Your body has 365 points but the cool thing is your acupuncturist will be able to tell not only from your symptoms but also from your pulse and tongue (a post for another day, I promise!)  what is out of balance and where the acupuncture needles should go. I’ve laid it out in more detail on the what is acupuncture page on my site but that is the basic gist.

Now – on to choosing an Acupuncturist. Acupuncture is a registered profession in Alberta. Please do not go to anyone who is not registered. A Registered Acupuncturist (look for the letters R.Ac. beside their name) will have at least three years of post-secondary under their belt and will have successfully passed three Pan-Canadian and two Provincial examinations.  It is important to note that not all medical professionals who practice acupuncture/dry needling are Registered Acupuncturists.  The Acupuncture Program at MacEwan University, where I graduated, is 2070 hours overall, with 630 clinical hours. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential acupuncturist for qualifications! Also, healing is really personal so you want to feel comfortable and safe with your acupuncturist. You can ask to meet for a consultation before making an appointment.

I’ll end with a fun video of Oprah trying acupuncture for the first time. She has lots of questions!