Did you know there are an estimated 74% of Americans suffering from some digestive problem or discomfort? This is one topic that most people avoid talking about from embarrassment or just hope the problem will mysteriously go away on its own just as it showed up, or they think it is normal to have diarrhea on a daily basis. Many of their symptoms are not pretty, such as needing to rush to the bathroom at a moments notice.
In this article, I'm going to show you how you can begin today to find relief so you can feel better and stop letting your digestive problems ruin your life! Sound good?
To begin the healing process, we've got to move through the discomfort of discussing these debilitating symptoms so we can get to the root cause, and more people (perhaps you), can get on with their life.
To begin, let's establish if you are suffering from digestive problems:
Do you experience stomach pain?
do you experience gas and bloating?
Find yourself constipated or have bouts of unexpected diarrhea?
Sensitive and reactive to certain foods?
Constantly worry about needing to be near a bathroom?
If your answer is “yes” to one or all of the above questions, and you want to find relief, it’s important that you begin little by little addressing the issues starting today.
But first, let’s get one thing straight:
Your digestive problems are NOT just about your digestion.
There is a big misunderstanding out there that when digestive symptoms rear their ugly head, it’s your digestion that you should focus on fixing. This seems logical, but the reality is that your digestion is a symptom of something else, and is influenced by many other factors. This is why, often, when western doctors prescribe medications such as antacids, they might provide a temporary relief, but the symptoms usually come back or evolve into another disorder.
The root cause wasn’t dealt with.
So, what is the root cause of digestive disorders? If we shouldn’t focus on our digestion directly, what should be focused on to move through these difficult symptoms and heal our bodies?
In my 29 years studying the human condition, and 16 years seeing patients in my acupuncture private practice, there is one thing that outweighs all others as the root cause of digestive disorders: STRESS
Why does stress cause stomach problems?
Stress with anxiety, or worry are directly tied to digestive problems because when se are stressed, our body's natural digestive process is interrupted and unable to function. Cue symptoms such intestinal discomfort, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, etc.
In Chinese medicine, energetically it is the connection of the "heart and small intestine". When we experience a conflict with our heart center (anxiety) it will show up in our intestines as we try to make sense of what we are experiencing emotionally. We feel it in our GUT.
Metaphorically we often use terms such as not being able to "digest" something or wanting to "chew" on an idea for a while. Commonly referred to as the gut-brain connection.
Now, the tricky thing here is that when people are under pressure and experience digestive disorders they enter into what is known as a vicious cycle. Stress and anxiety about their intestinal problems becomes in and of itself, stressful. If you experience stress and anxiety in the first place, then your stress pattern will show up around your digestion.
What happens when you ignore your digestive problems?
The endless loop of stress keeps going and going like the Energizer Bunny. And this worsens your symptoms, driving them further and further into a stress cycle pattern in your body. This can lead to chronic systemic inflammations and trigger autoimmune conditions. There is always a starting point for chronic and serious diseases. The longer you wait, the more chronic it becomes and the more important it is to address this problem cycle immediately. (Let's get curious about what is going on contact me 917-294-3805, firstname.lastname@example.org).
So many times, I see people who are stuck in this cycle, afraid to do something about their digestive problems because they have reached a place of hopelessness and resignation. They think they will never find relief and it feels like their symptoms have taken over their life.
3 Tools for Escaping the Digestive Stress Cycle
Here’s what you can do to begin getting out of this vicious cycle now:
1. To control or not to control?
Part of what makes us stressed, worried and/or anxious is obsessing over things that we can’t control. So, to become aware of these things, make a list of everything that bothers you. What do you have control over, and what do you not? Release what you don’t have control over. Let it go!
2. What is urgent and what is a priority?
In our busy lives, it is easy to get caught up in dealing with the "fires" - those things that are urgently needing to be dealt with; the texts, emails, and phone calls that pop up. As I'm sure you know, this fuels ours stress response. You must begin addressing the tendency to focus only urgent matters by re-assessing the priorities in your life. What are you big picture goals? What do you want in the long term? These things don't always appear as urgency, but they should be prioritized. Ask yourself each day, do my actions contribute to my dreams/goals? Determine how to focus moving forward.
3. Reset your nervous system.
When you are stressed, your nervous system goes haywire, basically going into survival mode. Your nervous system regulates your body functions so when it is in survival everything could be a considered a threat and that makes it hard to calm down. Calming and regulating your nervous system is an important key to addressing your digestion. Meditation is one way to help shift the vibration in your body, which calms the nervous system. However, if you don't have a calming practice like meditation or yoga (moving meditation) you could be in a kind of nervous system spin cycle. That frantic energy makes it challenging to focus and calm yourself down enough to start meditation if you have never done it before. So before worrying about adding more to your plate, know that our body has its own form of meditation and that is BREATHING. This is a start to bring consciousness and awareness around your nervous system. It will most likely not enough to address the deeper stress cycle pattern with your digestion and I recommend you combine it with acupuncture, which is the fastest way to shift and reset your nervous system really quickly.
These three tools will help you begin the process of ending the digestive stress cycle. But I want to be clear that this is a process. It will take time.
So many times, I see patients who are stuck in this cycle and are frustrated because they don't know how to begin to heal. The problem literally is ruining their life.
My biggest wish is that you know you CAN find relief from your digestive disorder. You can go back to living a life that doesn't tie you to the bathroom. But you must start addressing your issues today.
Here's the next steps to set you on the path to success for overcoming your digestive issues and getting your life back:
Decide to do something to take car of it NOW.
Get professional support. Curious how I can help? Contact me here.
Work on getting better, (use the steps) instead of focusing on "what's wrong with me."
Be generous with yourself and allow the time to heal. It takes time.
To Your Health!
Tsao-Lin E. Moy, L.Ac., MSOM, LMT, C. SMA