20 years ago it was a rare occurrence to know anyone with digestive issues other than the distress brought on by occasional over-eating or ingesting a bad shellfish. Now, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is so common that we can just say “IBS” and everyone knows what you are referring to. Colitis, Crohns’ disease, acid reflux, bloating, food intolerances, chronic constipation; these are all occurring in ever-increasing numbers, and the medical world has little to offer besides symptom-controlling medication.
Why is this?
Survival, Culture, Family, Emotions
The act of eating and digesting involves our animal nature, the culture of our society, our ethnic origins, our more immediate family history and dynamics, and the emotions associated with all of it.
Historically, nourishing ourselves involved the hunting and gathering of food in our immediate environs that we ate to sustain the body. As higher-brained creatures, eating is a far more complex activity. We have access to virtually every kind of food anywhere on the Earth at any season. This sounds like a good thing, but it separates us from the rhythmic cycles of Nature. Historically, we would eat what grows in our part of the world in the season it naturally grows in. We are meant to move with the seasons according to our place of origin, to live and eat according to its rhythms. Modernization has created a fantasy-world of food that has made it possible to stray far and wide from a simpler, more balanced way of eating.
Habits of Eating
Use the questions below to assess your eating habits:
Where do you eat? If there are 21 meals in a week, how many of those do you eat at home?
Who cooks your food? Are you cooking your food or are restaurants cooking it for you? If you do cook, are you starting from fresh foods or is it pre-cooked food from cans, containers or the frozen food section?
How do you eat? Are you eating your meals are at a table in a pleasant atmosphere with people you enjoy or in front of the television or the computer? Do you eat quickly and immediately go on to the next task or take a little time to digest?
What do you eat? How much of your diet is fresh food? What do you know about pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics? How much sugar, caffeine, unhealthy fats, preservatives are in the food you eat?
What is the backdrop to your meal? Are you discussing politics, money, or gossiping while you eat? Watching the news? These subjects cause stress and the body will go into some level of fight-flight-freeze response, where digestion is slowed or stopped and stress hormones released. NOT a good scenario for digesting food well!
Then the big question: WHAT do you eat? There are A LOT of strong opinions out there about eating… raw/cooked, meat/no meat, carbs/no carbs, it can be really confusing.
The reason there are so many choices is that humans come in lots of varieties! It’s just not as easy as a 1-stop shop for everyone. Every approach to eating is the perfect key in the lock for some people. We all have different ethnicities, different body types, different ages, different exercise levels. A 20-year old Asian woman who exercises vigorously daily is going to need really different food than a 60-year old German man wh0 is a couch potato.
You can’t go far wrong if you keep a few simple things in mind:
- Eat more fresh, organic foods and less processed foods with lots of chemicals in them.
- Eat lots of different kinds of food. Have a colorful plate!
- Eat as much home-cooked food as much as possible.
- Lastly, and most importantly… Find a way to enjoy yourself! We eat every single day. Better to bend the guidelines a bit and enjoy your food than be miserable at every meal. When you’re happy you digest better!
Energy Medicine Fast-track to Better Digestion
Sometimes our bodies get out of the habit of digesting well even if we are really good citizens about our eating habits. There are lots of ways this can happen:
Stress is really hard on digestion, so if our stress levels are high on an ongoing basis it is not unusual to experience digestive distress. Or sometimes we simply catch a bug or eat a rotten clam and it's hard to get things back to normal. That’s where energy medicine comes in.
Energy Medicine is the fastest, safest, and most effective way to guide your digestion back to health, regardless of what kind of digestive issues your have, how long you’ve had them, or what the cause is for your particular problem.
Take the Energy Medicine Digestive Health Challenge! Do the following 5 exercises at least once a day for a month and see the difference in your digestion. If you want to be scientific about it, rate your current symptoms on a scale of 1-10 (1 is optimal, 10 is abysmal). At the end of the month, re-rate your symptoms and see the difference.
- Spleen & Stomach Points
- Large Intestine & Small Intestine Neurolymphatic Points
- Ileocecal & Houston Valves
- Raising the Palms: For Stomach & Bowels
- Triple Warmer Smoothie
SPLEEN & STOMACH POINTS
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spleen and Stomach meridians govern a lot of our digestive processes. Simply tapping them on a daily basis can be incredibly helpful in aiding digestion.
- Tap several times a day to improve overall digestion.
- Tap right after a meal.
- Tap after taking medication or supplements, to digest them more easily and improve their efficacy.
- Tap if you eat or drink a little more than usual.
Spleen points are located about 6 inches under the arm on the side of the body.
Stomach points are located on the orbit bone of the eye, right in line with the pupil.
Bunch your thumb, first, and second finger together and tap the the points rigorously. Or if tapping feels uncomfortable you can rub the points instead.
Large & Small Intestine Neurolymphatic Points
Neurolymphatic points are acupressure points that stimulate lymph flow in our organs. When organs are functioning sluggishly—as common with the organs of elimination—getting the lymph to flow is a great way to increase and improve elimination.
These points need to be rubbed with a firm pressure. And if they need the work, they will likely be tender. Work up to your comfort level. You will find that with consistent work they will become less and less tender. that is the signal that your good work is paying off!
Ileocecal & Houston Valves
There are valves between many of the vital organs of the digestive system, and if they are not opening and closing properly it really taxes digestion. Valves are extremely sensitive to stress, so it is easy for them to get out of balance. This simple exercise goes a long way to help keep the valves of the digestive track functioning optimally.
The Ileocecal valve controls the flow between the large and small intestines. The Houston valve controls the flow between the large intestine and sigmoid colon.
To reset the valves, place both hands on your hip bones with your little fingers at the inside edges. Your right hand is over the Ileocecal valve and your left hand is over the Houston Valve. Resetting both valves creates a symmetry between them. Exert pressure as you push in and slowly drag the fingers of each hand up six to seven inches with a deep inhalation. Shake the energy off your fingers with the out breath and return to the original position. Repeat about four times. End by dragging your thumbs downward from the waist to the hip bones one time with pressure.
Raising the Palms for Stomach & Bowel Function
This deceptively simple exercise brings oxygen and energy to the stomach and entire intestinal tract.
- Stretch the arms forward, straight out from the body, palms up.
- Inhale, bending the arms at the elbows until the palms are in front of the face
- Exhale, extending the arms forward again.
- Repeat 3 to 10 times.
Triple Warmer Smoothie
Triple Warmer meridian is the energy medicine equivalent of our physiological fight-flight response. In the same way that all physical resources are conscripted to the survival imperative when there is a threat or stressor, Triple Warmer will usurp all energetic resources to the survival imperative as well. Getting Triple Warmer to calm down can have a really powerful positive impact on digestion, especially if there are ongoing stressors present.
The Triple Warmer Smoothie is a really easy energy exercise that helps Triple Warmer stand down from its defensive posture.
- Rest your face in your hands, palms at your chin, and fingers at your temples. Hold for two breaths.
- Breath in deeply and lift your fingers two or three inches, smoothing the skin from the temples to above the ears.
- On the exhalation, circle your fingers around your ears, press down the sides of your neck, and hang your hands on the back of your shoulders, pressing your fingers into your shoulders.
- Stay in this position for at least two deep breaths.
- Drag your fingers slowly over your shoulders with pressure and draw your hands down to the middle of your chest on your Heart chakra. Take a deep breath.