Healing Colitis with Acupuncture & Chinese HerbsJohn Zhang (MD, China) September 1, 2011
Colitis can be referred to as an inflammation of the colon. This condition can have many different causes, including: acute and chronic inflammation; inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s Disease; food poisoning; or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of colitis include abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, bloody stools, diarrhea, fever, gas and mucus.
As colitis worsens, steroids are often by used by Western medicine as a temporary solution to cover up the symptoms. However, steroids cannot cure colitis; they must be taken for long periods of time, and if discontinued, the symptoms will recur. Long term use of strong corticosteroid chemicals usually has adverse side effects. For example, one man who came to my clinic had suffered from Crohn’s Disease for over 35 years – and had taken steroids for as long as he could remember. Instead of helping his health, the drugs had worsened it. His heart developed problems which resulted in a heart attack. He also developed osteoporosis and arthritis. The steroids failed to cure the colitis, and brought the patient even more problems.
HOW CHINESE MEDICINE HELPS HEAL COLITIS
According to Chinese Medical Theory, colitis is caused by the irregular functioning of the stomach and spleen systems. Chinese medical treatment will therefore focus on regulating and improving the spleen and stomach meridians. This approach naturally decreases or even stops bleeding, mucus, and diarrhea. It also works to enhance the body’s immune system and strengthens the ability to digest nutrients.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has established a protocol for treating colitis based on thousands of years of medical practice and experimentation. Each patient must have a treatment plan specifically designed for them. Therefore the Chinese Medicine practitioner must gain a detailed understanding of the patient’s situation. Many different factors affect how colitis is treated. Some patients will experience diarrhea when stressed, angered, or after consuming fatty foods. Other patients might experience painful diarrhea accompanied by dry mouth and or a hot/cold sensation. The tongue and pulse must also be checked in order to determine whether the problem is yin deficiency or yang deficiency. Although treatment protocols will vary between patients, the fundamental approach remains the same, and that is to improve the functioning of the spleen and stomach systems.
Clinical studies have shown that Chinese medicine is very effective for colitis. Many treatment methods are incorporated to achieve the desired result. Acupuncture is used along with herbal formulas, and sometimes moxibustion. Acupuncture will stimulate the flow of energy within the body and strengthen the internal systems. The herbal brew is a mixture of many herbs blended together. Some herbs will target the root cause of the problem, while others will treat the external symptoms.
Case 1: This case involved a 50-year-old male, who was a neighbour of mine. It came to my attention that he had developed a severe case of colitis. His symptoms included more than twenty bowel movements a day, along with plenty of mucus and bleeding. When he visited the hospital and his family doctor for assistance, their response was that they could not find anything wrong with his health. After continuing to suffer with this debilitating condition, he decided to try acupuncture. I administered regular acupuncture treatments over a period of two weeks, and also prescribed two weeks’ worth of a Chinese herbal brew which involved cooking the herbs at his home and taking them daily. He was also advised to avoid consuming inflammatory foods. At the three week follow up visit, he reported that his colitis symptoms had disappeared, and have not returned for many years.
Case 2: In this case, a 34-year-old female had suffered from colitis for seven months. Symptoms included mucus in the stool, and constant rectal bleeding resulting in significant blood loss every day. Her family was very concerned for her health. I administered acupuncture treatments over four weeks, and after that her condition disappeared. The acupuncture needles were inserted along specific meridians to help restore balance to her body.
Case 1 is an example of an acute situation. The damp-heat in the patient’s body prevented the stomach and spleen systems from working to their full potential. The energy in that area was disrupted.
Case 2 is an example of a chronic case. It occurred because of a spleen and stomach deficiency. Although the case was chronic, it was still possible to only use acupuncture to alleviate the problem.
The human body is extremely complex. All the different parts of the body must remain in balance with one another in order to keep the whole organism healthy. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the body as a whole, and regulates and or enhances the internal systems. This approach specializes in targeting and treating both the root cause of the problem, as well as the external symptoms. This is why Chinese medicine is extremely effective for colitis. It’s essential that patients strive to seek treatment soon after it appears, in order to experience the best results for a complete recovery.
Note: Dietary therapy is an important part of treatment. Patients should avoid or limit mucous-forming foods such as dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream), as well as cold (raw) foods and spicy/greasy deep fried foods. Easily digested, bland, and cooked foods are recommended.