Given that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, and are likely adding far more strange and atypical foods to our diet than at other times of year, I thought it apropos to put in some bloggage about food poisoning, and what can be done for it.
By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Every year millions of people suffer from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea due to food poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are as many as 33 million cases of food poisoning in the United States annually.
While most cases are mild and pass so rapidly that they are never diagnosed, occasionally a severe outbreak creates a newsworthy public health hazard. The recent outbreak in the United States is such a case.
More than 11 weeks into the biggest Salmonella outbreak linked to fresh produce ever in the United States, a strain of Salmonella has sickened over 869 people across the country, causing tomatoes to be pulled from shelves and restaurants.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be of great help when it comes to relieving symptoms of and recovering from food poisoning. In most cases, the recommendation for food poisoning is to rest and drink plenty of fluids. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can actually relieve symptoms, hasten recovery and also strengthen the digestive system to prevent future incidents of food poisoning, avert the development of chronic immune deficiencies and increase energy levels.
What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is a general term for any illness arising from eating contaminated foods. Also known as foodborne illness, infectious diarrhea or gastroenteritis, food poisoning is generated by a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites. The most common bacteria to cause food poisoning are salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and shigella.
Food poisoning is marked by severe diarrhea, fever, cramping, abdominal pain, flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea. Most cases of food poisoning clear up on their own within a week without any medical assistance; however, it can take several months before bowel habits return to normal. Often the digestive system is severely weakened after a bout of food poisoning, making the infected person more susceptible to food poisoning in the future. A small number of persons with food poisoning develop an autoimmune disease called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Food Poisoning
In Oriental medicine, food poisoning is recognized as dampness and heat in the stomach and intestines due to the ingestion of unclean food or drink. Traditionally, damp heat conditions were seen mostly in the summer months when heat and humidity are at their peak. It is interesting to note that the CDC confirms that most cases occur in the warm months between July and October.
Treatment of food poisoning is rest and hydration to prevent fluid and electrolyte loss through vomiting and diarrhea. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to relieve nausea and vomiting, hasten recovery by assisting the body to eliminate the pathogen faster, and strengthen the digestive system to prevent any reoccurrences as well as the development of a chronic immune disorder.
Is your digestive system functioning as well as it could? Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are extremely effective at treating a wide array of digestive disorders. Call a licensed practitioner near you for more information or to schedule and appointment.
Points for Food Poisoning
Acupuncture treatments are aimed at draining dampness and heat from the intestines to remove the pathogen while simultaneously calming the stomach to stop nausea and vomiting. After the acute symptoms subside, treatments are focused on strengthening the digestive system and improving energy levels to bring about a full recovery.
While many different acupuncture points are used, depending on your specific symptoms and the state of your overall health, here are some acupuncture points that are commonly used to treat gastroenteritis:
Stomach 25 (St 25) and Ren 4 (Co 4) are two acupuncture points located on the abdomen around the umbilicus. They are used for abdominal pain, cramping and to drain heat and damp from the intestines.
Stomach 36 (St 36) is located on the shin, below the knee (see image above). It is a very powerful point used to adjust and balance the physiological activity of the digestive system and relieve stomach pain. It is one of the major points on the body for the GI tract. It triggers the body to increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid, dissolve food and move it out of the stomach and intestines.
Pericardium 6 (Pc 6) is located two finger breadths above the inside of the wrist. This acupuncture point alleviates nausea.
How to Prevent Food Poisoning
Here are four simple guidelines to ensure that your summer holidays are not memorable for all the wrong reasons!
Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill
Clean: Wash hands, surfaces, utensils and platters often. Rinse all produce in cold running water before peeling, cutting or eating.
Separate: Keep foods that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat and poultry. Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
Cook: Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
Chill: Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
* If you are ill with diarrhea or vomiting, do not prepare food for others, especially infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems since they are more vulnerable to infection.
Ginger for Intestinal Upset
Did you know that ginger is always served with sushi because of its ability to prevent food poisoning?
Ginger has been found to increase the secretion of gastric juice and the production of hypochloride. This means that food is digested more quickly; creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria that could wreak havoc with your stomach and intestines.
Ginger works as well at treating the symptoms of food poisoning as it does preventing them. In fact, ginger can be used for most digestive upsets that involve nausea, vomiting, cramping, abdominal pain, indigestion or diarrhea.
Whether your digestive problem is due to eating contaminated food, stomach flu, pregnancy or motion sickness, ginger is one of the most effective agents around!
Ever wonder why some acupuncture points are used in almost every treatment? Why it is common to have a needle placed a little below your knee, on your wrist, in the web of your hand, or on your lower leg? It is because those points are some of the most powerful and useful points in Chinese medicine. I refer to those frequently used acupuncture points as superhero points.
Everyone loves superheroes, they save the world. A popular debate among superhero lovers is which superhero is the best. Is Superman the coolest because he has superpowers but is able to blend in with the people while he saves Metropolis? Perhaps Batman is the favorite because he has no superpowers but stays levelheaded in order to save Gotham? Maybe The Flash is the ultimate superhero because he is faster than the speed of light? It could be that Wolverine is best because he is indestructible but endures tremendous pain in order to save the world? Or is Spiderman the greatest superhero because he was bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him superpowers and ultimately becoming a superhero? Acupuncturists have similar discussions regarding which acupuncture points are considered the “superheroes” of acupuncture.
Stomach (ST) 36 is the most common point to choose, it is the “Superman” of acupuncture points. Located below the knee, ST 36 tonifies qi and blood, harmonizes the intestines, benefits the stomach and spleen, transforms dampness, benefits the spirit, dispels pathogens, courses wind, and helps prevent disease (Deadman 158). It is arguably the most important point on the stomach channel, a channel that contains 45 points. It is not, however, an extra point or part of an extraordinary vessel rather it is one point in a large channel. This is very similar to Superman who has the strength and power to save everyone but as soon as he puts on his glasses, he is an average citizen.
The “Batman” of points is Pericardium (PC) 6 because it protects the heart, just as Batman protects Gotham. Located proximal to the wrist crease, PC 6 helps calm the spirit and most importantly, suppresses pain. PC 6 is also used for nausea and vomiting especially in cases of morning sickness (Deadman 376-377). This point is often used because people need to be calm in order to be healthy. Similarly, Batman’s ability to stay calm and think with a clear mind, allows him to protect the city of Gotham.
Liver (LV) 5 is The Flash of points. It strongly courses liver qi throughout the body, moving qi quickly just like The Flash. Everyday people feel stuck because their qi is unable to move and they become frustrated. When LV 5, located on the lower leg, is stimulated, qi starts moving faster and people feel more relaxed. It is a wonderful point for anyone who needs a pick-me-up (Deadman 482-483).
Large Intestine (LI) 4, located in the web of a hand between the thumb and pointer finger, is comparable to Wolverine because despite its tenderness it helps heal the body quickly. It can promote labor, cure a headache, prevent sickness, and even help with back pain (Deadman 103-106). Most people find LI 4 painful, but it is a small price to pay in order to help almost every ailment. Wolverine is comparable to LI 4, as he too experiences initial pain when helping people but powers through, as he know it’s a necessary side effect.
Spiderman was a nerdy high school student who from one radioactive spider bite became stronger, smarter, and faster. Spleen (SP) 6 is similar to the spider bite because stimulating SP 6 can help turn a common weakness into a strength. SP 6 tonifies blood, benefits kidney yin, and spreads qi. Located on the lower leg, it can help build a person’s blood, calm their mind, and move their qi (Deadman 189-192). It has the ability to help transform someone into a superhero.
Each of these points have their own “superpowers.” They can help heal sickness and stop pain. They are the Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wolverine, and Spiderman of acupuncture points. Just like their alter egos each point saves lives. We will never know which superhero is the strongest, just as we will never know which acupuncture point is the most effective — it simply depends on the individual patient. Sometimes the patient needs a point that treats every ailment, sometimes they’ll need a point that protects the heart, or even one that moves qi fast or strengthens the body. Sometimes, they may need them all.
Deadman, Peter, Mazin Khafaji, and Kevin Baker. A manual of acupuncture. Hove, East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications ;, 2007. Print.
People are constantly asking, “Do you have a needle for weight loss?” There are many potential answers to that question, and none of them involve simply won needle being inserted in one spot.
Healthy diet and exercise are the gold standard for weight loss. However, cravings and hunger often derail efforts. In extreme cases, individuals turn to pharmaceutical and surgical treatments to reduce appetite, yet these have serious side effects. Low quality supplements and infomercial “cures” can also be dangerous, ineffective and expensive. There may be another answer.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study concerning the effect of tragus clips on gastric peristalsis, or the process of food traveling through the intestines. The researchers noted the use of the “hunger point” on the tragus of the ear has been successful in creating an aversion to cigarette smoking and reducing weight. Though needles are typically used, when left in the ear they lose effectiveness.
The study instead relied on ear clips, similar to ear seeds. The clips were adhered to the tragus on the outer ear in order to inhibit a branch of the vagus nerve. The ear clips did in fact slow gastric peristalsis, leaving subjects feeling full longer. The effect was significant when the ear clips were applied and while the subjects wore them.
The study’s authors concluded, “Ear clips were effective in delaying gastric peristalsis, and may have value in reducing appetite in association with weight loss programs.”