Acupuncture/Digestive issues

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Question
Michael
I was able to clear up a lot of musculo-skeletal issues with my acupunctureist, but not my digestive ones.
I suffer from a slow metabolism, although my TSH levels are good, and if I have to eat like a bird or I gain weight. The main issue for me is all the weight goes to my belly, and it is not so much weight as 'gas'. There is no weight gain. I don't drink any more alcohol than average, but on the occasions when I eat out and have a few drinks, my belly is so distended that for days I look like I am pregnant and have to let my belt out.
Both my doctor and acupuncturist think I eat and drink more than I say, which frustrates me. They say its just central obesity and gastritis, and as I mentioned I test show no issues at all. I do have a family history of diabetes, maybe that's why carbs and sugars bloat me up? I have been like this all my life however-even as a skinny kid with a big belly.
I am thinking of seeing a new acupuncturist, one more sympathetic.
Is this an issue you have come across and is treatable with acupuncture?

Answer
Dear Bud -

What an interesting issue you present.  Probably acupuncture is not necessarily the modality that will help your problem.  Digestive issues that have specific origins and results typically are better treated with herbal formulae.  Acupuncture is most useful in digestive conditions where there are generalized disharmonies.  (Always starting with acupoints Zu San Li and Wei Guan.) I suspect that you have an enzymatic deficiency that is making digestion of starches and certain types of sugars difficult.  The herbal formulae that might be helpful in a situation like yours requires some fine-tuning.  I would start with the old standby of Kang Ning Wan (prefer the Plum Flower brand; sometimes called Curing Pills.)  If that didn't help after a few days, then another choice might be Shu Gan Wan (again, taken about 30 minutes before a meal.)  To explore further if neither of these worked, then some inquiry would have to be made about your overall physical signs and symptoms in East Asian medicine terms; that is obviously beyond the scope of this answer.

I don't think that you need a new acupuncturist so much as having an honest discussion with the one you have now about how you feel and what outcomes you want. Clearly, you do not feel the way that you want and somewhere in this mix is the path to resolution.

I wish you well - - -  

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Michael M. Zanoni, MS, LAc

Expertise

I am knowledgeable about severe and chronic pain from musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, especially trauma, headache, and fibromyalgia. I can provide guidance that will assist healing and recovery after illness or surgery. I have a particular interest in long-term chronic conditions that are becoming progressively worse or intermittently severe (such as viral hepatitis, Crohn's, or Takayasu syndrome.) I have extensive experience treating endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, where the primary condition is being monitored by a Western-trained physician, and cancer where there are specific treatment goals other than cure (e.g., decrease of pain; reduction of side effects of radiation and chemotherapy; lessening of edema; palliative treatment of associated conditions.) I do not treat or answer questions about infertility, ALS, or senile dementia.

Experience

I have practiced Oriental medicine for over sixteen years in a variety of settings. Much of my practice has centered around a busy clinic specializing in severe long-term chronic pain conditions and palliative care. For several years I worked in a hospice program. I also established a non-profit community clinic providing care to under-served and homeless patients. My work has found me in an HIV clinic in San Francisco, a busy private practice in Oregon, to traveling on muddy 4-wheel drive roads to see dying patients. I now teach acupuncture and Oriental medicine at a school in Hawaii.

Education/Credentials
My training was at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco where I received a masterís degree in Chinese Medicine. I have current board certifications in Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbology from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also have certifications in Chinese tui na bodywork, Physical Rehabilitation Training, and biofeedback. I am licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental medicine in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I also have BA, MS, and PhD degrees in subjects not directly related to Oriental medicine.

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