If you struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation, you may wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again. At BodaHealth, we believe that you can, and our practitioners offer a variety of natural healing options to help you get there.
Diarrhea is considered chronic if it lasts for a month or more, usually involving three or more loose stools daily. Other symptoms that may occur include cramping, gas, bloating, and a feeling of urgency. Chronic and severe diarrhea can lead to more serious complications, such as dehydration and depleted nutrients or electrolytes.
Chronic diarrhea can be caused by a number of conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Chronic diarrhea can also be caused by intestinal infections from eating food or drinking water that’s been contaminated. Some endocrine disorders, such as a thyroid imbalance or diabetes can also lead to chronic diarrhea, as can a food allergy or sensitivity or certain medications.
Chronic constipation is a common condition, generally defined as having less than four bowel movements in a week. In addition to a limited number of bowel movements, chronic constipation can also be characterized by dry and hard stools, straining to go to the bathroom, and feeling like your intestines are blocked. Long-term constipation may also cause hemorrhoids, anal tears (fissures), and fecal impaction.
The most common underlying cause of constipation is slow transit time, in which the contents of your intestines move so slowly that the normal moisture is absorbed, resulting in dried out and hard stools that are difficult to pass. Other less common causes of chronic constipation include intestinal blockages, nerve damage that affects the intestinal muscles, and hormonal imbalances.
In some cases, the underlying cause for chronic constipation is unknown, but a number of factors can raise your risk of the condition. They include:
- Dehydration, which decreases the moisture in your intestines
- Your age; constipation is more prevalent as you get older
- Being a woman increases your risk
- Not eating enough fiber
- Being physically inactive
- Side-effects of some medications
Treatment Options for Chronic Diarrhea or Constipation
At BodaHealth, we believe that understanding the underlying cause of your condition is vital in giving you the best care possible. When it comes to treating chronic diarrhea or constipation, understanding its source is a crucial component of your treatment. In addition to a diagnosis, your treatment plan will also take into account your specific health history, symptoms, and current needs. Your treatment may consist of the following therapeutic approaches:
-Acupuncture. Our acupuncturists have a great deal of experience in effectively treating digestive conditions. While you may not think about acupuncture to treat constipation or diarrhea, research studies have found that it may be as effective as medications in relieving these conditions. Scientists believe that acupuncture may affect the action of your large intestine through the gut-brain axis, which links your brain to your enteric (digestive) nervous system to affect the function of your intestines. In addition, they believe that acupuncture, and electro acupuncture, work for constipation by affecting the transit time and motility (movement) in your intestines.
-Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). At BodaHealth, our acupuncture practitioners will work with you to develop treatment strategies based on diagnostic patterns that are a part of Chinese medicine. In addition to acupuncture, they may prescribe an herbal formula based on your specific symptoms and underlying pattern. Doctors of Chinese medicine have a long history of treating digestive conditions with herbal medicine, and there are a number of herbs and formulas that are especially effective in treating different kinds of diarrhea, as well as constipation.
-Naturopathic medicine. The discipline of naturopathy has a lot to offer people who are struggling with their digestive health. Our naturopathic physicians are able to perform lab tests, stool samples, and hormonal assessments when necessary, in order to better understand the origins of your chronic diarrhea or constipation. They may also conduct nutritional assessments and evaluate the microbes in your gut, which can play an important role in your digestive health. Naturopathic treatments involve the use of vitamin, herb, or other nutritional supplements, the use of pre or probiotics, nutrient injections, and dietary and lifestyle modifications.
-Nutrition. What you eat is hugely important to the health of your digestion. The foods you choose and those you avoid, how they’re cooked, when they’re eaten, and what you eat or drink with them can directly impact both diarrhea and constipation. Understanding the role of fiber, food sensitivities or intolerances, and triggers that aggravate your symptoms can help you better control those symptoms. At BodaHealth, our acupuncture practitioners approach dietary therapy from the framework of Chinese medicine, in which foods have specific actions on your body. As a result, dietary treatments are based on choosing foods that are specific to your unique needs and symptoms. Our naturopathic physicians also perform assessments on both the function of your digestion and your nutritional needs. At BodaHealth, our holistic nutritionists, acupuncturists and naturopaths are available to work with you to develop a nutritional plan.
The reality is that chronic bowel problems are uncomfortable, embarrassing, and hard to talk about. At BodaHealth, we want to talk about it with you, because we can help. Our practitioners are well-trained, compassionate, and have the therapeutic tools to help you get your digestion back on track. Don’t let chronic diarrhea or constipation take over your life. Talk to us today about how we can help you.