03 Feb Learn how to love your small intestine to enhance your health
A big hello to all for the new year even though we are in February already, but also Happy Chinese Lunar New Year (Year of the Rat) from tonika health’s acupuncturist, Peter Scarselletti.
For the first time in all my years as an acupuncturist, it’s with sadness that I write about the fire element from Chinese medicine 5 Element philosophy, due to the extremely difficult situation that has gripped Australia over the last months in our peak bushfire season. My sincere blessings go out to those who have been affected by the fires, or whose families and friends have also been affected at this time, as well as all of the countless animals that have lost their lives, or are fighting for survival at this time. It’s my sincere hope that our precious Australian bushland that has been burned, now has a chance to regenerate itself.
In Chinese Medicine, the main Fire Element organ that is usually discussed is the Heart, and it’s associated structures throughout the body- the blood vessels. However, I would like to discuss the Small Intestine, the Heart’s paired organ in Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture, which is another super important organ, often neglected, that amongst many things such as being our major digestive organ, primarily influences the health of our blood.
I could go on for ages about the Small Intestine! Here’s some cool things for you to know:
- 90% of Absorption & Digestion of food, liquids, supplements and medicine (that are ingested) takes place in the Small Intestine.
- The Small Intestine absorbs and transports nutrients into the blood stream, and therefore to the rest of the body.
- The Small Intestine transports what is not to be absorbed and used, to the Large Intestine, to eventually be disposed of.
- The Small Intestine has a protective function of maintaining healthy levels of permeability, to keep our blood free of contaminants while it absorbs what it can during digestion.
- In Chinese Medicine, the mental/emotional aspect of the Small Intestine assists us with discernment, and differentiating pure and impure thoughts.
- The famous Acupuncture pioneer, Dr JD van Buren claimed that treating the Small Intestine acupuncture meridian was helpful to improve blood flow to the brain (Circle of Willis), and also is helpful for those with dyslexia and learning disorders.
- The famous Japanese Master Acupuncturist, Dr. Manaka, claimed that healthy ageing is closely linked to the health of the Small Intestine. Look and stay young – look after your Small Intestine!
- Another famous Japanese Master Acupuncturist, Master Nagano, believed that Auto-Immune Disorders are usually benefitted by assisting and treating the health and function of the Small Intestine (and its attached mesentery).
So, how do I know if I need to improve the health of my Small Intestines? And if so, how do I do that?
There are certain health conditions, such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), that require special attention. If this is the case for you, I recommend you enquire with us about treatment. Most people without such disorders who wish to improve the health of their Small Intestine may benefit from some simple tips and practices.
There are many possible signs and symptoms out there letting you know that you need to work on your Small Intestine Health, such as bloating and discomfort in your abdomen while digesting certain foods, suffering from food intolerances or nutrient absorption issues. These are just a few, but many others can remain hidden.
However, lucky for us, another famous Japanese Master Acupuncturist, Kiiko Matsumoto (who studied with the 2 Japanese Masters mentioned above) discovered a way to diagnose the health of the Small Intestine by palpating and pressing the area on the back of the Scapula/Shoulder Blade (part of the Small Intestine Acupuncture Meridian), checking for abnormal tenderness, and lumpiness in the muscle tissue and fascia in the area. If we assess this area, and find it abnormally tender or sore or lumpy, this can indicate that the Small Intestine organ requires attention, and it is sending a signal of that dysfunction to the zone on it’s acupuncture meridian, like a warning light on your car dashboard! From there, we can work backwards, and actually apply some stimulus (massage or acupuncture) to that area to address the Small Intestine directly! Some great changes in a number of chronic and difficult conditions have been benefitted by people practicing this daily technique outlined below.
Assessment and Self Massage Method
Step 1: Have a friend or loved one press all around the SI 11 Acuzone (the red zone marked in the diagram above) on the back of your left and right shoulder blades to check for any abnormal pain, tenderness or lumpiness. Alternately, ask to have it assessed during your next acupuncture appointment. Is it sore or tender to the touch, or does it feel like a a gummy bear, or a lump of dried apricot under the skin? Slight muscular soreness, or only a small area of tenderness is considered normal, and no intervention is required. Moderate to severe tenderness/pain and larger lumps are considered necessary to address. Also, please note that if the left hand side shoulder blade is considerably sore in comparison to the right, it may signify a cardiac condition, so best to let us know in that case, so we can assess further.
Step 2: Massage Daily! Whether it is a friend or loved one, or a colleague who will massage it for you for a few minutes a day, or rolling a tennis ball or massage ball between your shoulder blade and the wall to hit the right spots, massage the area daily, until you notice changes in the tightness, lumpiness, tension, soreness or tenderness in the area. As it improves with time, other things inside (the Small Intestine) are improving too. If your SI 11 Acuzone is a bit more stubborn, then book in for an acupuncture session, so we can get to work on the area with acupuncture to get the job done quickly!
What are some other things I can do daily to support the health of my Small Intestine?
- Minimise the possibility of parasites, detrimental bacteria, and contaminants in food – good food hygiene, etc
- Address any current or recurrent gut infections/infestations
- Be mindful of refined sugar intake
- Regular abdominal breathing to improve blood flow to the Small Intestine
- Regular intake of quality fermented foods and/or probiotics prescribed by your practitioner
- If you suspect you may be intolerant to certain foods, check in with your healthcare practitioner to organise further investigations
- Regular intake of quality bone broth (like this one)
As always, I’m available for your next (or first) acupuncture appointment, which you can book here. Let me know how you benefit from our suggestions!