Q: My sister has been experiencing tummy bloating for the last two years. She is interested in having acupuncture.
A: We are assuming in answering your query that your sister has had her symptom checked out thoroughly by conventional medicine. When you say 'tummy bloating' we don't know whether you mean 'all the time' or 'after eating.' Although it would be unlikely there are a number of fairly serious conditions which constant bloating may indicate, and it would be important to check that none of these is present, since delaying conventional treatment may have serious consequences.
The most likely outcome, if your sister has seen her GP, is that the problem has been diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a term which is used to cover a wide range of symptoms of which bloating is one. Within Chinese medicine abdominal bloating is very often tied to the poor functioning of a specific part of the system, the Spleen as understood in Chinese medicine terms, but the issue then is deciding whether this is a primary problem in itself or whether within the complex inter-relationships of the system, this is a problem elsewhere causing the Spleen to malfunction. The art and skill of the practitioner lies in making this kind of determination.
There are inevitably going to be many questions which the practitioner will ask about when the bloating occurs and what specific triggers your sister may have noticed, but we suspect that even without knowing more detail that the timing of eating food will be an issue as well as the kinds of food she is eating. This is not quite the same as food intolerance. From a Chinese medicine perspective there are certain types of food which aggravate some of the constitutional imbalances which people have and are best avoided. Many people, for example, are hindered by eating a great deal of cold and damp food, like raw fruit and vegetables, for example, and the irony is that many diets using these as a staple aimed at weight loss often have the opposite effect. However, it would need a proper face to face assessment to make this kind of judgement.
We cannot recommend individual practitioners, but if you use the search facility on the front page of the BAcC website and enter your postcode and nearby postcodes we are sure that your sister will find a practitioner who can offer her face to face advice on whether treatment would be of benefit to her.