Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Day 213 - Small Intestine

“The small intestine is around five metres long, making it the longest section of the digestive tract. Although it is longer than the large intestine it has a smaller diameter. This is why it's called the small intestine.

After food is churned up in the stomach, a sphincter muscle at the end of the stomach opens to squirt small amounts of food into the top of the small intestine. This first section of the small intestine is called the duodenum.

The pancreas releases digestive juices through a duct into your duodenum. This fluid is rich in enzymes that break down fats, proteins and carbohydrates. It also contains sodium bicarbonate which neutralises acid produced in your stomach. The gall bladder squeezes out bile down a duct into the duodenum. Bile helps break down fats in your food.

Most of the nutrients in food pass through the lining of the small intestine into the blood. The lining of the small intestine is covered in tiny microvilli. These are microscopic, finger-like protrusions which give the lining of the small intestine a massive surface area for absorption of nutrients to occur across.

Each microvillus contains a minute blood capillary. When nutrients are absorbed into a microvillus, they enter its blood capillary. This is how nutrients from the food enter the blood. By the time food leaves the small intestine all the nutrients in the food will have entered the bloodstream. All that remains is indigestible food which is passed from the small intestine to the large intestine for further processing.”*


“I just got back from a four day sun dance." “What’s a sun dance?” I asked inquisitively. “It’s when you dance for four days.. after that I was hung from a tree. I now have holes everywhere” he explained to me. “O-kay....” I said under my breath, rather puzzled. “It’s a ritual, it represents the continuity of life. I often go and live with tribes, I just got back from South America... to see and learn about their forms of natural healing”. This was the first slither of conversation I had with the acupuncturist before having needles stuck into my feet and hands.

I know acupuncture is not meant to hurt, although this time it really felt quite uncomfortable. Luck would also have it that half way through I had a really itchy leg but couldn’t move because of all the needles.

Anyhow, the good news is that the acupuncturist (also a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine) believes that my headache is related to the small intestine, the gallbladder and partly also the liver. He is now the third person (along with the kinesiologist and the nutritionist) who believes that the problem is internally related, and more specifically gut/liver related. The needles were placed in my gall bladder, liver and small intestine acupuncture points located in my hands and feet.

The doctor wanted to give me some Chinese herbs to detox, although I explained I am currently undergoing a programme with the kinesiologist and want to finish with that first. I am, however, keen on continuing with regular acupuncture sessions. Unfortunately though, he is only in the country once a month as the rest of his time is spent travelling and studying herbal remedies. It’s nice to see someone so interested in learning about alternative medicine, which no doubt reflects his knowledge on diagnosing health problems.

The acupuncturist also strongly recommending regularly doing some relaxation techniques in order to relieve the pain.

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