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Q: What is the etiology of hiccups?

A: Hiccups are caused by spasmodic involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that results in the uncontrolled breathing in of air. The peculiar noise of hiccups is produced by the beginning of an inspiration that is suddenly checked by the closure of the glottis. Hiccups usually stop after a few minutes, but may become serious if they persist for a long time.

Q: What is the cause of hiccups?

A: There are a variety of causes to the onset of hiccups. They are most commonly due to rapid eating which swallows air, irritation of the digestive system, respiratory system, or of the diaphragm muscle. Hiccups can also be the result of a complication following surgery or due to emotional causes.

Q: How can acupuncture treat hiccups?

A: According to TCM's perspective, hiccups results from the reversed Qi (energy) of the Stomach meridian. The Stomach Qi should normally descend rather than ascend, causing the Qi to move upward. Acupuncture treatment can reverse the rebellious Stomach Qi to quiet hiccups. It can also send a message to the automatic respiratory centers in the brain to restore the normal functions of the muscle groups to control the breathing in of air to stop hiccups. If the condition is due to emotional distress, treatment principles would include stress management (refer to the section on “stress management") to aim at the underlying cause of the hiccups to prevent recurrence.


Q: What is the definition of gastritis?

A: Gastritis is the inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It is one of the most common stomach disorders. Gastritis becomes chronic if it occurs repeatedly or continues over a period of time..

Q: What is the cause of acute gastritis?

A: Common causes of acute gastritis are aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, food poisoning, overeating, irregular meals, excessive alcoholic beverage, and bacterial or viral infection. Other possibilities are vitamin deficiency, abnormalities of the gastric juice, ulcers, hiatus hernia, or emotional distress.

Q: What are the symptoms of gastritis?

A: The main symptom of gastritis is abdominal pain. Accompanying symptoms include a sensation of the abdomin being distended, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.

Q: How do I cope with acute gastritis?

A: Home remedies to cope with the abdominal pain of mild cases may include a bland diet and more frequent meals but smaller in quantity to ease digestion.

Q: How can acupuncture treat acute gastritis?

A: Since TCM regards acute gastritis as the result of an obstruction of the Stomach Qi (energy), treatment is directed toward facilitating the movement of the energy and harmonizing the digestive functions to relieve pain. If toxin accumulation is involved in the diagnosis (such as from food poisoning), detoxification would be included in the treatment plan. In cases of emotional distress, anti-depressive treatment utilizing several effective trigger points along the meridian pathway would be considered as well.


Q: What is heartburn?

A: Heartburn is a common form of gastric hyperacidity, causing burning sensation in the esophagus, or below the sternum in the heart region. It is one of the most common symptoms of indigestion.

Q: What is the cause of heartburn?

A: The etiology of heartburn may be explained as the result of regurgitation of partial food contents from the stomach back into the esophagus, carrying excessive acidity (hydrochloric acid) secreted by the stomach. Due to its acidity, this irritates the esophagus and produces discomfort or pain with a burning sensation.

Q: What is Traditional Chinese Medicine’s perspective on gastric hyperacidity?

A: According to TCM, gastric hyperacidity is usually the consequence of emotional stress disrupting the normal Qi (energy) pathways, leading gastric acid to be regurgitated from the stomach. Emotional stress can stimulate the vagus nerve (one of the cranial nerves controlling the stomach motion and secretion) which starts the secretion of various gastric juices and the contraction of stomach muscles causing heartburn.

Q: How can acupuncture treat heartburn?

A: Acupuncture is aimed at the underlying cause rather than just the symptom itself. It is believed that unless the root of the cause is targeted, symptoms would only be alleviated, but will not be cured. Treatment is primarily focused on the relaxation of emotional stress to restore harmonized communication between the brain and stomach muscles. Secondary treatment principle is directed toward strengthening the transporting functions of the Stomach meridian.


Q: What is a duodenal ulcer?

A: A duodenal ulcer is a sore or sores in the inner lining of duodenam (the upper part of small intestine following the stomach) developed when the stomach’s digestive juices irritate and damage the tissue. The irritation is caused by the hydrochloric acid and enzymes (pepsin) contained in the stomach juices.

Q: What is the main symptom of a duodenal ulcer?

A: A duodenal ulcer is mainly manifested as stomachache or pain, which may vary in severity. It may reveal as a slight discomfort to severe pain. Diarrhea may accompany the pain. Unlike the type of diarrhea due to food poisoning, this type of diarrhea may not relieve abdominal pain and yet, might even induce more pain. Pain is usually more intense after meals. If the condition is severe, internal bleeding is also possible.

Q: What is the cause of a duodenal ulcer?

A: A duodenal ulcer is commonly caused by the bacteria – H.Pylori -- or the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as those used to control rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Other possibilities include improper dietary habits (overindulgence of spicy, acidic food or alcohol) or emotional stress.

Q: How can acupuncture treat duodenal ulcer?

A: Acupuncture treatment aims to relieve pain by the reduction of the amount of stomach acid irritating the duodenal lining tissue. Stress reduction treatments are also rendered to target the root cause of the condition, such as emotion that is the primary cause of this disease in modern society. Natural herbal therapy is very effective when used in conjunction with acupuncture to treat a duodenal ulcer.


Q: What are the cause and effects of colitis?

A: Colitis is the inflammation of the large intestine. The exact cause remains unknown but the disease seems to be associated with genetic factors, a weak immune system, the body’s overreaction to normal intestinal bacteria, disease-causing bacteria or virus, and the intake of certain food and drugs.

Q: What are the symptoms of colitis?

A: Abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, and rectal bleeding are the main symptoms of this condition. Accompanying symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, and weight reduction. The severity and frequency of colitis vary among patients. Some people have flare-ups and others have the symptoms constantly.

Q: How can acupuncture treat colitis?

A: Acupuncture treatment is directed at calming the inflammation of the large intestine to alleviate pain and remove toxin accumulation. The treatment principle would also include inducing an immunity function within the body to fight against the inflammation. Hormone balancing by acupuncture can adjust the sensitivity of the nerves and prevent overreaction to normal intestinal bacteria.


Q: What are the causes and effects of acute bacterial dysentery?

A: This is the most common form of dysentery, which is caused by bacterial infection. Acute bacterial dysentery can be fatal, especially among children, if not treated properly. This condition can erupt anyplace where sanitation is poor and large groups of people including the carriers of this disease are crowded together.

Q: What are the symptoms of acute bacterial dysentery?

A: Acute bacterial dysentery is manifested as diarrhea, with bowel movements as many as 30 to 40 times a day, with painful abdominal spasms. The diarrhea may contain mucous. Other symptoms include fever, dehydration, shock or delirium. The greatest threat is the deficit of body fluid volume and electrolyte imbalance due to excessive bowel movements.

Q: How can acute bacterial dysentery be transmitted by carriers?

A: Acute bacterial dysentery is spread through the feces of carriers who have bacteria in their intestines. The carriers may not reveal any symptoms themselves but are still eligible to spread the disease. It is usually transmitted by eating or drinking anything contaminated with the bacteria, even by touching something that is contaminated and then touching the mouth. One cause of its spreading is by flies. There is an incubation period of a few days.

Q: How can acupuncture treat acute bacterial dysentery?

A: Since TCM regards this disease as resulting from Dampness and Heat pathogenic factors collecting in the gastrointestinal tract through ingestion of unclean food or drink, it is treated according to the principle of clearing the pathogenic factors to facilitate the stabilization of the Stomach and intestine meridian pathways. Acupuncture is effective in treating this disease naturally.


Q: What is the myth about constipation?

A: Constipation occurs when stools are difficult to pass during bowel movements. Most people think "normal" means stools are passed daily. Actually, it is considered normal to have bowel movements anywhere from three times per day to three times per week, as long as the stools can pass easily.

Q: What are some symptoms of constipation?

A: The chief symptom of constipation is the difficulty to pass a stool accompanied by cramping and rectal pain caused by strain of trying to pass hard and dry stools. Bloating, nausea, and sometimes the passing of a small amount of bright red blood are also consequences of constipation. The bleeding is due to the tearing of anus or hemorrhoids due to the hard and dry stools pushing through the anus. This type of bleeding is small in quantity and should stop when constipation is controlled. Constipation can alternate with diarrhea, when mucus and fluid leak out around the stool lodged in the rectum caused by the constipation.

Q: What are the causes of constipation?

A: Constipation is mostly due to lack of fiber and inadequate water intake from daily diet. Traveling, lack of exercise, immobility due to illness or aging, certain medications or medical conditions (such as irritable bowel syndrome), overuse of laxatives, pregnancy, hemorrhoids, or delaying bowel movement can all lead to constipation.

Q: How can acupuncture treat constipation?

A: According to TCM perspective, constipation may be caused by either an excessive or deficient condition. If the constipation accompanies abdominal distention and pain and irritability, it is mostly an excessive type and treatment is aimed to sedate the accumulation. If the constipation is accompanied by weakness (deficient type), treatment would aim to tonify the body’s energy field to induce energy circulation and therefore push out the stools.


Q: What is diarrhea and what are its symptoms?

A: Diarrhea occurs when there is an increase in the frequency of bowel movements, and the stools become more watery and looser than normal. This is due to the intestines pushing the stools through a bowel movement before the water in the stool can be reabsorbed by the body. It may also be due to the inflammation of the bowel lining causing excess fluid to leak into the stool. During episodes of diarrhea, abdominal cramping and nausea may occur.

Q: What is the etiology of diarrhea?

A: Diarrhea can be caused by a variety of reasons, from stomach flu (gastroenteritis) to food poisoning. Diarrhea is the body’s way to quickly cleanse the virus, bacteria, or toxins from the digestive tract.

Q: What are some common causes of diarrhea?

A: Diarrhea is quite commonly induced by drinking untreated water, causing parasitic infection in the gastrointestinal tract. It is also a common side effect of certain medications such as antibiotics. Traveling, emotional stress, or anxiety may all induce diarrhea.

Q: How can acupuncture treat diarrhea?

A: Acupuncture is directed toward the underlying cause of diarrhea, which can either be an excessive or deficient condition. For the excessive type (diarrhea accompanied by abdominal pain and a foul smell), treatment is focused on the elimination of toxins and pathogenic factors inducing the diarrhea. To treat the deficient type (diarrhea accompanied by weakness and without a foul smell), strengthening of the gastrointestinal system is essential to prevent further abnormal leakage. For either condition, boosting the immune system and restoring the normal circulatory pathways within the body's meridians are also emphasized.


Q: What is paralytic ileus?

A: Paralytic ileus is the failure of appropriate forward movement of bowel contents.

Q: What is the symptom of paralytic ileus?

A: The main symptoms of this condition are abdominal pain and distension, vomiting, constipation, or even shock in severe cases.

Q: What is the etiology of paralytic ileus?

A: Paralytic ileus is caused by the paralysis of the gut due to peritoneal contamination by pus (from a perforated appendix), or acid (from a perforated ulcer). In either case, the underlying cause must be treated properly. This condition may also follow a spinal cord injury which impairs the communication between nerves and muscle tissues, pneumonia, and other general health conditions.

Q: How can acupuncture treat paralytic ileus?

A: According to the TCM perspective, paralytic ileus is due to the stagnation of circulation within the body's meridians especially of the affected area. The stagnation blocks the communication between the nerves and the muscle tissues and therefore causes the paralysis of the peristalsis. Acupuncture can remove the stagnation and restore the communication between the controlling station to the intestines to promote forward movement of bowel. Acupuncture can also eliminate the toxins accumulated from the paralytic ileus.

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