Regaining Digestive Balance

After barbecues galore this holiday weekend, many of us are left feeling a bit sluggish and bloated. From burgers topped with greasy bacon and cheese to hot dogs and a few too many beers, our celebratory weekend has made its mark on our digestive systems. After a few days of eating in this manner, we may vow to never pick up another French fry again.

While many people reach for over-the-counter medicines for immediate relief, heartburn or acid reflux that proves to be a recurring nuisance is not something to be ignored. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, over 60 million Americans experience heartburn, or acid reflux, at least once a month. This condition occurs when stomach acid moves up into the esophagus. Acid reflux is thought to be caused by many factors, such as obesity, smoking, eating too close to bedtime, and eating many acidic foods, such as coffee, chocolate, fried foods (think holiday weekend) and tomato-based foods.

The Eastern Approach

Take a moment to step away from what you just read about acid reflux. Let’s look at this symptom from a different angle. Could it be that the body is giving you a sneak peek into the deeper energetic workings of your body? Traditional Chinese medicine views symptoms as messages of a deeper imbalance. Getting to the root cause of the problem will not only fix the problem for good, it will rebalance the body itself. Once the body works in harmony, symptoms such as acid reflux cannot and will not appear.

Three organ systems—Spleen/Stomach, Liver/Gallbladder and Kidney/Bladder—must cooperate with each other fully to create a healthy digestive system. If your Stomach becomes bloated after you eat, or you have GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), acid reflux, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or a stomach ulcer, your body is using a different language to communicate with you. It’s sending signs of a deeper issue–your digestive system has fallen out of balance and is not functioning as it should. These kinds of symptoms indicate that the Liver and Stomach are not working in harmony. Something physical or nonphysical, like emotions, has disrupted their relationship. For healthy metabolism function to be restored, the Liver and Stomach must each reach their own state of balance. They also must cooperate as supportive partners.

3 Ways to Regain Digestive Harmony

Recognizing that these symptoms are signs of a deeper imbalance is the first step! After that, follow these three steps to help your body get back into balance.

1. Follow the Dragon’s Way! Avoid eating heavy foods, like meats and dairy. Replace cold drinks and raw foods with warm drinks and cooked foods, even on the warmest days. Your digestive system will thank you.

2. Practice letting go! When something becomes stuck or cannot move, blood and Qi cannot flow freely through the body. That’s when symptoms such as acid reflux, GERD, breast tenderness and menstrual problems start to appear. The flow of emotions is controlled by the Liver/Gallbladder, which is at its peak in Spring. If you continually hold emotions or your emotions become excessive, your body will let you know by producing symptoms.

3. Be flexible. Are you adaptable to life’s changes?  Practicing flexibility means following Nature’s laws, as well as following your own feelings. Often, we believe that there are many things we must control. If we can embrace the concept that there are no accidents, we can begin to let things go. Practice becoming flexible in small ways first, then adapt your lifestyle to include larger changes. Stop doing things because you think you “must.” Instead, listen to your inner voice. Find out what makes you truly happy—then practice that.