Bloating is a common complaint experienced by many people with varying degrees of discomfort. Sometimes people remark that their belt size can go up 2-3 belt notches with pain and wind and yet others may just have a constant feeling of mild fullness.
Abdominal distension from a western medical viewpoint may be a symptom associated with a number of medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.
Certain foods such as cabbage or coffee can contribute to bloating in certain individuals.
Problems with the Liver and Spleen can cause bloating
There are a number of causes of bloating according to traditional Chinese medicine with the spleen and liver being the most common.
The stomach and spleen are regarded as being the yin and yang organs of the earth element which are responsible for receiving and processing the food and fluids that we ingest. If the spleen energy is weak or damaged then the distribution of food stuff is hindered which can lead to a symptom of bloating. A disharmonious and deficient stomach/spleen system can also present with other symptoms such as loose stools, imbalance with appetite, tiredness and weakness of the limbs.
What are examples of how to tonify the Stomach and Spleen?
There is an acupuncture point below the knee called zusanli which is commonly used to tonify the spleen and can address symptoms like bloating, loose stools, tiredness and difficulty to concentrate. A herbal formula like si jun zi tang may also be prescribed.
The Liver and stress can cause bloating
The stress associated with the liver involves anger, irritability, impatience, resentment and even hatred. If these states of mind are in over abundance they can cause the liver energy to get stuck and disrupt its normal function of allowing free flow of energy. Stuck energy can cause bloating. It can also work the other way when the liver is damaged by irregualr diet or disease, then one will be pre-dispositioned to overwhelming feelings of anger and impatience.
What are examples of how to move stuck liver energy?
A common acupuncture used by acupuncturists to liver qi stagnation is taichong which is located in the foot between the big and second toe. The herbal formula xiao yao san may also be supplemented to help the liver.
What about constipation and bloating?
There are many causes of constipation and not all causes with have bloating. One imbalance though, known as knotted heat in the intestines, requires purging to rectify the problem. A herbal formula such as da cheng qi tang could be prescribed.
There are over 700 members of Acupuncture NZ who are accredited treatment providers with ACC. Heiko Lade has had over 30 years experience practising acupuncture in Australia and New Zealand.