The Digestive System
Like all the body's systems (respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, nervous, and others), the digestive system is made up of several organs which work together to accomplish a task. The job of the digestive system is to break down food so the body can absorb energy and nutrients from that food, and remove from the body whatever the body can't digest or doesn't need.
Each organ in the digestive system (the throat, esophagus, stomach, and intestines) is connected to the brain via nerves which pass through the spinal column, just like every other organ in the body. If any of those nerves is pinched due to a vertebral subluxation (vertebrae which are out of place), the signals between the organ and the brain will be disrupted or prevented entirely. This can cause a host of problems and conditions.
Types of digestive disorders:
Various digestive disorders include: dyspepsia (chronic stomachache), ulcers (stomach acid burning through the lining of the stomach and intestines), heartburn (stomach acid escaping up into the esophagus), gastritis (inflammation of the stomach walls), chronic constipation (difficulty eliminating the bowels). These are some of the most common digestive disorders.
A medical doctor's approach to treating these disorders seems simple: prescribe a drug and solve the problem. But most drugs don't solve the cause of the disorder. They cover the symptoms.
Pain is not always a bad thing. If you have a headache, that can be a sign of pinched muscles or nerves, dehydration, or sleep deprivation. When you touch something hot you feel pain because your nerves send your brain a signal: something is wrong. Fix it!
The same is true with digestive discomfort of all kinds. A stomachache is a sign that something is wrong. Either there is something in your digestive system that shouldn't be there (food that doesn't agree with you, a bacterial infection or virus), or something isn't working right. The brain and the organ aren't communicating the way they should be.
This is where chiropractic comes in.
A chiropractic approach to treating digestive orders
- Get to the source of the problem. Chiropractors will examine the spine to see where there are pinched nerves. They will also help the patient determine if a lifestyle habit could be causing the problem, such as overuse of alcohol, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise or dehydration. Instead of using drugs to cover symptoms, chiropractic looks for the root cause of the problem and seeks to solve it.
- Correct vertebral subluxations. When an out-of-place vertebra (or more than one) are the cause of the problem, chiropractic care solves that! Regular adjustments are necessary for keeping all the body's systems working the way they were designed to.
- Increase water consumption and avoid dehydration. Especially in older patients, dehydration can be a problem because the sense of thirst can diminish with age. The digestive tract needs plenty of water to move food through it, and water is essential for the body to absorb energy and nutrients into the bloodstream. Dehydration can cause constipation, ulcers, colitis and dyspepsia.
- Improve diet and remove foods that trigger digestive issues. Many people's digestive problems are simply a result of a poor diet. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, with plenty of whole grains, healthy fats and protein, will ensure the digestive system works optimally. An overabundance of sugar-rich foods, spicy foods, or greasy foods (made with unhealthy fats) can cause chronic digestive issues. Try improving your diet, eating less fast food and processed foods, and see if that helps your digestive system.
If you suffer from chronic (or even occasional) digestive disorders or problems, try chiropractic care before you try drugs. Chiropractic will help improve the health of your whole body, and you won't be stuck with taking medicine the rest of your life!
Koren, Tedd D.C. (2012). Digestion, Heartburn and Ulcers (pamphlet). TFL Koren Publications Inc.