Digestion from the Viewpoint of Eastern Medicine

Eastern medicine views food as medicine that you take three times a day. Good digestion is just as important to health as the food that is eaten. The main organs involved in the digestion and distribution of food and nutrients are the spleen-pancreas and the stomach. The qi energy taken from the digestion of food is used to build immunity, good health and vitality. It enables the body to rebuild itself, the brain and the organs to function.

If you have a healthy, balanced spleen-pancreas and stomach, you will have endurance, a good appetite, and good digestion. Individuals who suffer from imbalance in these organs may have nausea, poor appetite, and a dull sense of taste, abdominal bloating, or loose stools. In addition, they may have general weakness, fatigue, a pale tongue with a thin white coat, and a weak pulse. Imbalances often cause by weak spleen-pancreas qi include food sensitivities, nervous indigestion, anemia, chronic diarrhea, ulcers, and pain in the upper abdomen.

Deficient spleen-pancreas qi energy is common among poorly nourished people, and includes those who are malnourished because they have a diet of refined, highly processed foods. Because the spleen-pancreas controls the absorption of qi energy and nutrients from food, most Eastern medicine remedies to improve digestion are directed towards the spleen-pancreas. This is consistent with the Western medicine understanding of how the body works in that the pancreas secretes enzymes that are absorbed into the small intestine. In order for the pancreas to secrete these enzymes, it must be healthy and functioning well.

Acupuncture and herbs are very effective in the treatment of digestive disorders. In addition, there are effective dietary therapies. Foods that correct deficiency include complex carbohydrates. Foods are better absorbed when they are chewed well and taken in small amounts. Cold foods and raw foods can be very hard to digest. Ice water taken with a meal diminishes the body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

Problems with digestion may have an effect on the whole body, as well as the emotions and mind. Getting it back in balance is an important step in restoring health and vitality.

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