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Bloating is so common now, I rarely see a client who doesn’t suffer from it. I’ve noticed that people always blame bread, pasta or carbs, but this is only part of the cause. If you try and treat bloating by cutting out everything that makes you bloat, you can end up with a diet so reduced its not workable. Bloating is a sign that your chi flow is blocked. The sugar and processed carbs can be a trigger, but they are not necessarily the cause. This goes deeper, like to your unconscious level. The feeling of never having enough time, or constant worry over escalating financial stress, or overthinking, block chi flow. Eating a bowl of pasta or a baguette, which require significant movement of chi to digest, will then aggravate the underlying stagnation. Chi stagnation in the upper abdominal area, the hub of chi flow, creates the bloating. The loaf is innocent.
Dieting to create a flat stomach is not the solution. As I point out to clients who tell me that juice diets have ‘fixed’ their bloating, it is only fixed if they can eat a big bowl of pasta or slices of bread again without feeling bloated Because that means the chi factor is working well. Reducing processed carbs is always a good idea but it won’t treat the cause. And it is important to look at this because any form of chi stagnation can be the start of serious pathologies. Make bloating the motivator for some lifestyle changes. Use chi-techniques to handle worry and stress, eat every meal calmly, don’t ever read or text while you eat (it blocks chi flow) and exercise somewhere between 5am to 7am each morning to develop skills in letting go (holding on to worry and stress etc blocks the chi flow). Get my book Clock On To Health for the full lifestyle that takes care of bloating and stress. If you are up for a lifestyle makeover to get every hour of the day working for your health and happiness book in for a holistic lifestyle consultation.
If bloating is related to past drug or alcohol use The Rebel’s Guide to Recovery is the book for you.
In TCM your organs have physiological functions but also metaphysical and psychological ones. Each symptom is associated with one or more organs. The organs associated with this symptom are:
TCM recognises patterns of symptoms affiliated with particular organs, and that these patterns can be reversed though treatment and lifestyle. The patterns associated with this symptom are:
In Chinese medicine liver and spleen are the primary organs associated with bloating. Your liver keeps chi moving for all physical processes. Liver chi stagnation causes bloating and it, in turn, is usually caused by combination of factors including long standing anger and frustration and inability to manage stress. Worry and the feeling of never having enough time; excessive thinking and unhealthy diet (irregular, excessive cold, raw and protein deficient) affect your spleen too so the digestive process is impaired and foods and fluids don’t move smoothly as they should. The small intestine is also involved with the digestive process. Because bloating is chi stagnation TCM treatment starts with acupuncture which can almost instantly eliminate bloating by getting chi flowing again. Herbal formulas are prescribed to keep chi moving and then dietary changes follow.
In Western medicine bloating, is the feeling of excess pressure in the stomach, fullness, and abdominal pain. Bloating describes the internal sensation of an expanding abdomen, but it may not be externally visible (as in the different condition of abdominal distension). The cause of bloating can range from dietary choices to serious underlying medical conditions. Digestive issues resulting excess intestinal gas are thought to be the primary cause of bloating. Along with these inner sensations, bloating frequently coincides with constipation as undigested food creates a build up of gas in the intestinal tract. Celiac disease or general sensitivities to gluten can also the cause of bloating, as can the FODMAP group of foods (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) such as onions, garlic, legumes, fructose, and artificial sweeteners. Lactose intolerance and high fibre diets can also trigger bloating.
In Western medicine bloating is also commonly associated with bowel and intestinal issues such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Other symptoms can include belching and diarrhoea. Since bloating can often occur after eating, it is thought that issues with dysfunctional abdominal muscles are the cause (otherwise known as gastroparesis). Hight levels of small intestine bacteria (SIBO - small intestine bacteria overgrowth), and microorganism imbalances (dysbacteriosis) have been found to be one of the many causes of bloating.
Western medicine currently has no one cure or specific treatment for bloating. It is recommended to firstly identify and treat whatever bowel, intestinal, or digestive condition that may be present. That being said there are a few different medications that can be administered such as antispasmodics, antibiotics, prokinetics, (which have been shown to decrease distension and bloating). Probitioics that help balance gut bacteria are recommended. Avoiding and limiting consumption of FODMAPs and dairy is also advised.