Digestive disorders

Prince Wen Hui's Cook book coverThe team at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM) Sydney, have a special interest in the following digestive disorder subjects:

  • The Gut-Brain Connection
  • Gut Bacteria + Parasites
  • Food Allergies
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Reflux + Heartburn
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea + Ulcerative Colitis
  • Nausea + Vomiting
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Malabsorption + Poor Digestion

The Gut-Brain Connection

The digestive system may influence hormone balance, stress levels, memory, cognition, mood, immune response, and inflammatory processes, because most of the chemicals controlling the brain are also located in the gut. These include hormones and neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Glutamate, GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), native benzodiazepines, small brain proteins, and natural opiates (Carabotti et al 2015).

The gastrointestinal system or enteric nervous system (ENS) and the brain or central nervous system (CNS) communicate through a bi-directional communication link, called the Gut-Brain Axis (GBA).

The science of the GBA explains how digestive health and what we eat, potentially impacts the health of every other system in the body. The ENS is often referred to as ‘the second brain’, because it can act independently of the brain, but its main functions are to maintain proper digestive function, regulate brain chemistry, and influence neuroendocrine and neuroimmune systems.

Emotional well-being and digestive health
The ENS ‘talks’ with the brain and CNS via the GBA, and because the GBA links emotional and cognitive centres in the brain with the ENS, emotional well-being and mental health may influence the digestive system, and the digestive system may also influence mental health.

Of significance, in order to maintain good health, the gastrointestinal system requires over 400 strains of good bacteria. The GBA links bi-directional communication from the gut bacteria to the brain, and the brain to the gut bacteria, allowing unhealthy gut bacteria to potentially influence hormone balance, anxiety, stress, memory, cognition, mood, and immune response.

Emotional well-being, digestion and the immune system
Emotional wellbeing and digestive health may influence the immune system as well (how well we respond to colds, flus and bacterial infections, or whether we instead develop a hyper-vigilant immune response, such as allergies or autoimmune disease), because there are immune cells in the gut, and most immune cells have receptors to neurotransmitters.

For example, when the gut bacteria are healthy, the immune system responds quickly to colds and flus and infection. When the gut bacteria are not healthy, chronic chest infections may occur, as well as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and autoimmune diseases such as Coeliac, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, and elevated Natural Killer (NK) cells.

On the other hand, the CNS influences the digestive system in an unhealthy way when stress and anxiety promote the development of pathogenic types of gut bacteria. Stress can also lead to changes in the permeability of the lining of the intestines, allowing minute particles of food to leak through into the blood stream, which in turn stimulate unhealthy immune responses that may lead to allergies, food intolerances, and skin and autoimmune diseases.