Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I suffer from major stomach and digestive problems; my symptoms include bloating, gas, nausea, as well as pain in the intestinal area. I have been to several doctors and they have reached different conclusions, from irritable bowel (IB) syndrome to diverticulitis. What is the best thing for me, and what type of diet should I follow?
A: The symptoms you have described are inclusive of both IB and diverticulitis. I would recommend you schedule a colonoscopy to identify the correct problem. From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, digestive disorders such as these are a combination of “damp heat in the intestines” and qi stagnation. The advice below will help reduce the dampness and heat in the intestines, and eliminate qi stagnation.
Do not consume onions, soda, beans, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Dairy products should be kept to an absolute minimum. Foods that are spicy, greasy, acidic, and fried should be eliminated. Smoking and coffee should also be discontinued.
Stress plays a major role in IB. A relaxed, positive outlook on life is essential. Moderate to light exercise will help move the qi and dislodge stagnation. A good example of light exercise is tai chi, qigong, walking, or swimming. Daily self-administered abdominal massage in circular motion beginning at the lower right quadrant and rotating clockwise for five minutes will alleviate your pain and bloating symptoms.
Salvia (dan shen), Atractylodes (bai zhu), Glycyrrhizin (licorice root), and Plantaginis seeds (che qian zi) have all shown efficacy against GI tract disturbances. I recommend you consult a local acupuncturist who can assist with a specific formulation for you.
Additionally, you may try the following products from Traditions of Tao: “Indigestion” for stomach harmonization, “Abundant Energy” to stimulate digestion, and “Bloat”. Of course, discuss with your physician before beginning any new health regime.