Herbs & Supplements for Digestive Disorders

Herbs & Supplements for Digestive Disorders

Herbs & Supplements at Lakewood Community Acupuncture for Treating Digestive Disorders 

The United States has an alarming amount of people affected by digestive issues every year. Besides addressing food habits and eating a healthy, well balanced diet full of vegetables and the correct fats and proteins, herbs and nutritional supplements can help heal the gut and rebalance our digestive system. 

Here is a list of some of the most common digestive issues facing people today, all of which can be alleviated with acupuncture and herbal medicine. At the end of the article, we have information on many of the herbs and supplements available for purchase at Lakewood Community Acupuncture. 

Diverticulitis: is inflammation and/or infection of a diverticulum, which can result in inflammation of the bowel wall, peritonitis, perforation, fistula, or abscess. The primary symptom is abdominal pain. Diagnosis is by CT. 

Diverticulosis: is the presence of one or more diverticula in the colon. Most diverticula are asymptomatic, but some become inflamed or bleed. Diagnosis is by colonoscopy, capsule endoscopy, barium enema, CT, or MRI. 

Gastroenteritis: is inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small and large intestines. Most cases are infectious, although gastroenteritis may occur after ingestion of drugs and chemical toxins (eg, metals, plant substances). Acquisition may be foodborne, waterborne, or via person-to-person spread. In the US, an estimated 1 in 6 people contracts foodborne illness each year. Symptoms include anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. Diagnosis is clinical or by stool culture.

Staphylococcal food poisoning: is caused by ingesting a preformed heat-stable staphylococcal enterotoxin. Food can be contaminated by staphylococcal carriers or people with active skin infections. In food that is incompletely cooked or left at room temperature, staphylococci reproduce and elaborate enterotoxin. Many foods can serve as growth media, and despite contamination, they have a normal taste and odor. Severe nausea and vomiting begin 2 to 8 h after ingestion, typically followed by abdominal cramps and diarrhea. The attack is brief, often lasting < 12 h.

Traveler’s diarrhea: is gastroenteritis that is usually caused by bacteria (E.coli and Norovirus most common) endemic to local water. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea and present 12-72 hours after ingesting contaminated food or water. 

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): includes Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, is a relapsing and remitting condition characterized by chronic inflammation at various sites in the GI tract, which results in diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Crohn’s disease: is a chronic transmural inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the distal ileum and colon but may occur in any part of the GI tract. Symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal pain. Abscesses, internal and external fistulas, and bowel obstruction may arise. Extraintestinal symptoms, particularly arthritis, may occur. Diagnosis is by colonoscopy and imaging studies. 

Ulcerative colitis: is a chronic inflammatory and ulcerative disease arising in the colonic mucosa, characterized most often by bloody diarrhea. Extraintestinal symptoms, particularly arthritis, may occur. Long-term risk of colon cancer is elevated compared to unaffected people. Diagnosis is by colonoscopy.

Irritable bowel syndrome: is characterized by recurrent abdominal discomfort or pain with at least two of the following characteristics: relation to defecation, association with a change in frequency of stool, or association with a change in consistency of stool. 

Carbohydrate intolerance: is the inability to digest certain carbohydrates due to a lack of one or more intestinal enzymes. This includes lactose intolerance. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal distention, and flatulence. Diagnosis is clinical and by a hydrogen (H2) breath test. Treatment is removal of the causative disaccharide from the diet. Carbohydrate intolerance is a malabsorption syndrome.

Celiac disease: is an immunologically mediated disease in genetically susceptible people caused by intolerance to gluten, resulting in mucosal inflammation and villous atrophy, which causes malabsorption. Symptoms usually include diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Diagnosis is by small-bowel biopsies showing characteristic though not specific pathologic changes of villous atrophy that resolve with a strict gluten-free diet.

Gastritis: is inflammation of the gastric mucosa caused by any of several conditions, including infection (Helicobacter pylori), drugs (NSAIDs, alcohol), stress, and autoimmune phenomena (atrophic gastritis). Many cases are asymptomatic, but dyspepsia and GI bleeding sometimes occur. Diagnosis is by endoscopy. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Incompetence of the lower esophageal sphincter allows reflux of gastric contents into the esophagus, causing burning pain. Prolonged reflux may lead to esophagitis, stricture, and rarely metaplasia or cancer. Diagnosis is clinical, sometimes with endoscopy, with or without pH testing. 

Peptic ulcer: is an erosion in a segment of the GI mucosa, typically in the stomach (gastric ulcer) or the first few centimeters of the duodenum (duodenal ulcer), that penetrates through the muscularis mucosae. Nearly all ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori infection or NSAID use. Symptoms typically include burning epigastric pain that is often relieved by food. Diagnosis is by endoscopy and testing for Helicobacter pylori.

FACTORS AFFECTING PAIN FROM A CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE:

Aggravated by eating: Full condition of the Stomach

Ameliorated by eating: Empty condition of the Stomach

Aggravated by drinking hot fluids: Hot condition in the Stomach

Aggravated by drinking cold fluids: Cold condition of the Stomach

Ameliorated by drinking warm liquids: Cold condition of the Stomach

Ameliorated by drinking cold liquids: Hot condition of the Stomach

Ameliorated by a bowel movement: Full condition of the Intestines

Aggravated by a bowel movement: Empty condition of the Intestines or Spleen

NATURE OF PAIN FROM A CHINESE MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE :

Pain with a feeling of fullness: Ache or pain accompanied by a sensation of fullness; it usually occurs only in the epigastrium or lower abdomen. A sensation of fullness should be distinguished from distension (bloating). Distension is bloated like a drum and area fills like a drum during palpation; with fullness, the patient feels very full as if after a very heavy meal, perhaps also with slight nausea, and the area feels hard rather than distended on palpation. Distension can be seen and palpated; fullness cannot be seen but can be felt on palpation. Indicates retention of food and is related to the Stomach and Spleen. Full nature and treated with digestive herbs. 

Colicky pain: This is a sharp pain of a colicky, cramping nature; it occurs in the epigastrium or, more usually, the lower abdomen. This pain usually indicates Cold in the Intestines, but it may also be due to Blood stasis. Full nature. 

Pain with a sensation of stuffiness: A dull ache accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness; it usually occurs in the epigastrium or chest. Stuffiness may be defined as a mild feeling of fullness iwth an important objective difference on palpation; fullness may be felt on palpation as hardness, whereas with stuffiness the epigastrium feels soft on palpation. A feeling of ache and stuffiness is usually due to a combination of Spleen Deficiency and Heat or Phlegm Fullness.

Pushing pain: This is a sharp pain accompanied by a feeling as if something was pushing outwards; it occurs in the hypochondrium or epigastrium and is due to severe Qi stagnation. 

Nutritional Supplements at LCA for Digestive Disorders

Betafood

Take after meals. Prevents and reduces gallstones. Improves fat metabolism. An excellent gallbladder and liver decongestant. Betafood is used for the mobilization of bile. Beets and beet leaves have been traditionally used for the support of the fatty liver for centuries. It has been shown in modern times to help prevent fat from forming in the liver and reduce the risk of enteric infections. 

Boswellia Complex

All inflammatory conditions, rheumatic, arthritic (especially Rheumatoid), fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, inflammation associated with IBS and various cancers, etc. 

Very Important: Boswellic acids (active compounds in Boswellia Complex) are most effective when combined with dietary fats for reducing inflammation.

Catalyn 

Helps all symptoms relating to malnutrition, such as fatigue and lowered resistance. Multiple vitamin and trace mineral product with enzyme source. Contains twelve raw foods, COLD PROCESSED and blended. Catalyn supports the activation of enzyme systems and supports the entire body. The major minerals are potassium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus. It contains living enzymes. 

Chlorophyll Complex 

Best taken on an empty stomach. Internal healing, pain, bleeding, loss of blood, low RBC count, pre and post operative, GI tract ulcers, colitis, liver disorders, fat-soluble vitamin deficiency, stomach pain, a vegetarian multi-vitamin. Fat-soluble organic chlorophyll, blood building (particularly red blood cells-RBC), Vitamin K source for formation of prothrombin for blood clotting. Source of antioxidant fat-soluble vitamins A/K/E/F, mineral source of magnesium, iron, potassium, trace minerals, lecithin, blood purification, liver support. It’s made from alfalfa, buckwheat, pea vines, tillandsia, sesame seeds and soybean plants. The fat-soluble vitamins are involved in the production of the gastrointestinal mucous membrane, so the product is important in the care of the ulcer and colitis patients. Chlorophyll Complex has a mild detoxifying effect in the gastrointestinal tract, particularly in cases of arthritis, arteriosclerosis, etc. Chlorophyll has a neutralizing effect on guanidine, which is the toxin of constipation. If a doctor gives this product to a patient and there doesn’t seem to be any improvement, it may be the patient isn’t able to metabolize the fat­ soluble factors in the chlorophyll. Giving Cholacol along with the Chlorophyll solves that problem. Cholacol is bile salts for aiding the digestion of fat-soluble factors.

Cholacol

Best taken before a meal. Fat intolerance, acholic stool, constipation, malassimilation of fat-soluble vitamins, cholecystectomy, excessive appetite, hot gallbladder syndrome. Cholacol contains purified bile salts. It is for bile stasis and gallbladder relief. Cholacol is for the bile-deficient patient. The herb, Collinsonia Root, has also been added to the product. Collinsonia Root supports the vascular system and lessens the likelihood of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, which can be aggravated if bile salts are given alone. The main symptoms which indicate a need for Cholacol are light-colored stool, inability to tolerate fats or oils in the diet, and constipation – indicating an inability to metabolize fat.

Choline

Fatty liver, poor portal circulation, impaired liver function. B vitamin involved in fat metabolism, liver function, de-fats liver. Choline assists in fat metabolism in the liver. It supports the action of bile salts by reducing the surface tension of fat particles, making them more easily emulsified by the bile salts. You would use this product with the patient who has extreme difficulty digesting fatty foods. Any patient with venous congestion, hemorrhoids, constipation, or a pasty complexion due to incomplete fat digestion is likely to need this product. For assisting with fat metabolism, use these three products: A-F Betafood, Cholacol and Choline.

Collinsonia Root 

Take with a full glass of water. Hemorrhoids, varicose and spider veins, and hard stools. Improves venous tonicity, is a natural stool softener and aids in reducing distress in rectal veins. Collinsonia Root is an herb (also called Stone Root). It is referred to in herb books as a “vascular astringent.” In other words, it maintains proper tone in the vascular system. Magnesium phosphate is the active factor which gives it this function. We use Collinsonia primarily to prevent the formation of hemorrhoids and varicose veins, or to assist in their removal if they have already formed. These are conditions in which the vessels have become enlarged, lost their tone and become distended. This product is made from the rock-hard root of the plant, ground up fine and put into capsules. Remember that in conditions of varicose veins and hemorrhoids, the patient often has a congested liver. Therefore take A-F Betafood as well as Cyruta-Plus, to strengthen his blood vessels.

Cyrofood Powder 

Prenatal vitamin, general nutrition, vague symptoms related to malnutrition, fatigue and lowered resistance. A combination of Catalyn with fiber and Calcifood. The powder may be added to baby formula, juice, or casseroles, to enhance nutritional content. Cyrofood contains a lot of cellulose, a lot of fiber. Cyrofood is also one third Calcifood. Calcifood is raw veal bone flour. There is some veal bone extract in Catalyn, but not to this degree. So Cyrofood is our most economical multiple supplement. It contains all the vitamins and known trace minerals, plus the phosphorous, calcium and protein from veal bone.

Gastrex  

Take 10 minutes before meals. Gastritis, heartburn, Irritable Bowel, Crohn’s disease, stomach pain, ulcers (stomach-duodenal). Gastrex is used to relieve gastritis and promote healing of the GI tract, especially the stomach and duodenum. Simultaneously, it detoxifies with absorbent clay while okra, chlorophyll, duodenal extract, and silica promotes healing. It quickly relieves an over-acid stomach. It can be made into a poultice to be placed on weeping ulcers, wounds and lesions. Complex of chlorophyll, montmorillonite clay, allantoin, okra and other absorbing, healing agents to soothe irritated GI tissue.

Gastro-Fiber 

Use for intestinal and colon cleansing, stool softening, imbalanced GI ecology, irregularity, elevated cholesterol, type I/II diabetes, hyper intestinal permeability (leaky gut). This is a vegetarian product, which combines five different whole foods and botanicals, including psyllium (husk) powder, Collinsonia Root (root) powder, apple pectin, fennel seed, and fenugreek seed powder. Gastro-Fiber™ is an integral part of the Standard Process detoxification and weight loss program. This product helps move the bowels, maintain healthy lining in the gastrointestinal tract, maintain healthy vessel walls, and tones the mucosal membranes in the intestines. Dietary fiber, a substance found in the cell walls of plants, is an integral dietary component for a healthy digestive system. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water, forming a soft, gel-like consistency. Americans should eat 20-35 grams of fiber each day, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. The average American currently eats 12-17 grams of fiber a day. Only about 1/4 of this is soluble fiber; therefore, the average American is eating only 3-4 grams of soluble fiber, which is below the recommended amount of 5-10 grams. Eating 3 grams a day of soluble fiber from oats or 7 grams a day of soluble fiber from psyllium has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. According to the FDA, “Soluble fiber from foods with psyllium husk as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Soluble fiber, in addition to its cardioprotective benefits, may have a positive effect on diabetes management. Soluble fiber may slow the uptake of carbohydrates from the GI tract resulting in a more controlled release of glucose into the bloodstream. Fiber, in general, adds bulk to the stool, helps improve bowel transit time, and promotes bowel regularity. Fiber also plays a crucial role in a healthy bowel ecology. Friendly flora in the GI tract have the ability to break down fiber for food, and in the process, produce short-chained fatty acids (SCFA’s) These SCFA’s provide fuel for the lining of the intestinal lumen (colonocytes) and help them heal and repair. Therefore, supplementing with Gastro-Fiber will help provide the additional soluble fiber important for vibrant health.

Gut Flora Complex

Dysbiosis/Intestinal Flora Imbalance, intestinal pathogens/candidiasis, etc. Destroys pathogenic organisms throughout the lower gut, may be helpful in related conditions including: Candida, other yeast/fungal/bacterial/viral/parasitic, & other pathogenic infestations, IBS, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, food sensitivities, chronic skin & autoimmune conditions, etc. 

Gymnema 

Diabetes, Weight Loss, Insulin Resistance, Sugar Cravings. Helps balance blood sugar, reduces cravings for sweets and may be helpful with both types 1 & 2 Diabetes, as well as hypoglycemia. Can help restore function of beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans if used for a minimum of 18 months. Gymnema is an excellent adjunct for the The Purification Program.

Lactic Acid Yeast 

Disruption of intestinal flora, an antibiotic therapy adjunct, flatulence (not foul), halitosis, toxemia, malassimilation disorder, constipation. Lactic Acid Yeast is most successful in giving improved G.I. tract health by re-establishing the natural balance of bacterial flora in the intestines. This is mycelium type yeast which changes carbohydrate to lactic acid. The advantage of this, of course, is that the lactic acid keeps the gastrointestinal tract acid, as it should be. If by eating refined foods a person develops an alkaline gastrointestinal tract, not only does he not digest protein – a very bad thing, as protein is toxic when it rots in your system and can’t assimilate calcium and iron. This is true of other minerals as well, but especially calcium and iron. These two just cannot be picked up in an alkaline gastrointestinal tract. So the purpose of Lactic Acid Yeast, a mycelium type yeast, is to convert the carbohydrate in food to lactic acid, thereby acidifying the gastrointestinal tract so it will assimilate minerals. The main symptom of the need for Lactic Acid Yeast is intestinal gas. Intestinal gas only forms in an alkaline gastrointestinal tract because gas ­producing organisms can only live in an alkaline medium. If you acidify their environment, they can’t exist. In the old days when people ate naturally fermented foods, like sauerkraut and borscht, there were fewer digestive problems. The lactic acid yeast organism that we use in our Lactic Acid Yeast wafers does the same thing that lactic acid bacillus does, with one difference. Lactic acid bacillus only changes milk sugar to lactic acid, whereas the lactic acid yeast organism changes any carbohydrate to lactic acid. 

Multizyme

HCL sensitive patient who is proteolytic enzyme deficient, intestinal parasites (ie: pinworms), ulcers, lower bowel gas, food putrefaction, inflammation, hay fever, sinusitis. One of three proteolytic (protein digesting) enzyme products (Multizyme, Zypan, Zymex II). This product is Zymex II with pancreatin added. This combination of digestive enzymes is a strong aid in the complete breakdown of ingested food. It contains NO hydrochloric acid where Zypan does. Protein enzymes (pancreatin, fig, almond, pineapple) without HCL. Intestinal anti-putrefaction support by complete protein breakdown, anti-parasitic enzymes. 

Pro symbiotic 

Support Gut Flora Maintain Healthy Gut Environment Support Bowel consistency and regularity, May improve nutrient digestion and absorption, Supports GI Immune health, adjunct to antibiotic therapy. People who travel, take prescription medications, suffer from digestive disturbances, and don’t eat “fermented” foods on a regular basis may find Prebiotics/Probiotics useful in maintaining a healthy Intestinal environment. 

SP Cleanse 

Foundational part of any detoxification or rejuvenation program for patients presenting with multiple systemic complaints, such as obesity, food allergies, fibromyalgia, eczema. It utilizes the synergistic effect of over 20 different foods and botanicals to support balanced hepatic detoxification ability, and the other organs of detoxification (lymph, skin, kidneys and blood). 

SP Green Food 

Vegetarian product for adults and children who do not eat an adequate amount of vegetables. Phase I & II liver detoxification, macular degeneration; protects cells from oxidative damage and supports normal growth and repair. Supports the immune system, and joint health. Research suggests that we should consume from three to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Less than 25 percent of American children consume the basic requirements of vegetables to maintain good health. This product contains barley grass juice powder, buckwheat juice powder, Brussels sprouts powder, kale powder and alfalfa sprouts powder (all organically grown). Cruciferous vegetables, which we process without heat, are shown to support the P450 enzyme system of liver detoxification.

Spanish Black Radish 

Toxic bowel (abdominal gas and bloating), lower GI tract infection (parasitic, bacterial or fungal), intestinal flora overgrowth (candidiasis), constipation, diarrhea, auto-toxicity by GI valvular spasticity (locked ileocecal valve), sinus congestion, gallbladder inflammation, liver enlargement. Supports gastrointestinal tract function, promoting the body’s detoxification mechanisms by cleansing the colon through excretion of toxic materials. Supports the action of the GI sphincters preventing spasticity. The herb, Spanish Black Radish, belongs to the phytonutrient-rich Brassica (cruciferous) family of vegetables. Its constituents include isothiocyanates, such as sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol, glucosilinates, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, raphanin, and sulfur, which has an antibiotic action. Spanish Black Radish acts as a diuretic and promotes systemic detoxification by activating the liver’s primary detoxification mechanisms. Another physiological mechanism activates relaxation of the GI tract musculature specifically the ileocecal, pyloric and anal sphincters. Spanish Black Radish provides not only sulfur in its organic form, but also its synergistic vitamin and mineral cofactors, including folate, vitamins A and C, potassium, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. Can be used as adjunctive support for Zymex in dealing with yeast infections, such as candida albicans, Spanish Black Radish facilitates the elimination of toxic by-products, precluding bowel toxicity.

Whole Food Fiber 

Constipation, irregularity, encourages “good” bacteria, colon health, immune support, supports healthy glucose levels already in normal range. Made from six whole food sources, it promotes optimal health in the intestine and immune system. Besides eating more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, a fiber supplement, such as Whole Food Fiber, can provide additional fiber missing in a patient’s diet. Rice bran-helps with regular elimination and acts as an antioxidant to protect the colon. Beets and carrots act as prebiotics and support a healthy balance of gastrointestinal flora by encouraging the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. Apple pectin and beets assist in digestion and regular elimination as well as protects the liver and colon from naturally occurring toxins. 

Wormwood Complex

Parasite Elimination. Follow protocols for 10 days, wait another 10 days, then repeat protocols for one more 10 day period. This is very effective 4 herb formula that destroys numerous types of intestinal worms & parasites. Also may be helpful with various related digestive disturbances including: flatulence, loss of appetite, nausea, dyspepsia (impaired digestion) and lack of sufficient bile flow.

Zypan 

(Take after meals) Indigestion, flatulence, constipation, ulcers, emaciation, anemia, poor calcium & iron absorption, halitosis parasitic prophylactic, foreign travel (sudden dietary changes). This is a Pepsin and Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) supplement. This type of hydrochloric acid product works differently than antacids. The antacid is the wrong biochemistry, as it neutralizes one of the most important of all bodily secretions, hydrochloric acid. Zypan provides pepsin and HCL to aid the digestive process. Intrinsic factor not secreted with HCL. Source of HCL, pepsin, pancreatin, ammonium chloride and pancreas extracts. Aids digestion of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Normalizes stomach pH. Pancreas support. Gas-forming microorganisms can only exist in an alkaline gastrointestinal tract. The bowel should never be alkaline. In a healthy person, it will always be acid.

Chinese Herbal Remedies at LCA for Digestive Disorders 

Copticlear (Huang Lian Su Pian)

Supports a healthy digestive system. Intestinal infection; Amebic dysentery with frequent bloody or watery stools; Abdominal pain; Infections, Boils, Insect bites; Poison oak/ivy, Stomach ulcers, Mouth sores; Gum infections; Skin and ear infections. Actions: Drains Fire and Toxin, resolves fever, kills parasites Pattern: Heat and Toxins accumulating in the Middle Burner.

Digestive Harmony (Bao He Wan)

Occasional bloating, distension or discomfort, especially after a large meal, Occasional loose stools Actions: Transforms food stagnation, moves middle burner Qi, transforms Phlegm and supports Spleen.

Gracious Power (Yi Guan Jian)

Chest-flank pain, acid regurgitation, menstrual problems, hernia disorder, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, elevated liver enzymes, peptic ulcers, hypertension. Actions: Nourishes Liver Yin, rectifies Liver Qi, harmonizes Liver and Lung Pattern, Liver Yin vacuity, Liver Qi depression, Liver/Lung disharmony.

Prosperous Farmer (Liu Jun Zi Tang)

Occasional abdominal distention, bloating, discomfort, weak digestion, loose stools or diarrhea; Occasional nausea, lack of appetite; Occasional fatigue, weak limbs. Actions:Strengthens the Middle Burner, fortifies the Spleen Qi, transforms Dampness, moves depressed Spleen Qi Pattern Spleen Qi deficiency, depressed Spleen Qi and/or Dampness. 

Warm the Stomach (Ping Wei San) 

Occasional sensation of heaviness of the limbs, lethargy, tendency to be easily fatigued or an increased desire to sleep, Occasional loss of taste. Actions: Dried Dampness, tonifies the Spleen Qi, regulates the Qi, harmonizes the Stomach Pattern: Damp Cold stagnation in the Middle Burner.