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Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been shown to help people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome¬† – commonly called IBS. The condition is also known as ‘spastic colon’ or ‘mucus colitis’. The condition has been labeled a ‘syndrome’ because it involves a group of symptoms that varies for different affected individuals. Reports have shown that many people suffer from this condition.

Chinese Medicine Sees Irritable Bowel Syndrome As ‘Disharmony’

Traditional Chinese medicine almost always views IBS as a disharmony between the person’s liver and the spleen. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of substances throughout the body. This flow can be upset by a person’s emotions or stress – which causes stagnation of Qi (energy) or blood.

Traditional Chinese medicine views the spleen as being associated with the function of digestion and transforming food into energy (Qi and blood). The spleen can be weakened by a number of factors, including — overeating unhealthy foods, overwork, too much worry, fatigue, and lack of exercise. When the spleen is weak and the liver is not moving smoothly, the liver overacts on the spleen and can manifest with symptoms of IBS.

Short term, a person’s liver/spleen disharmony might be seen as a loss of appetite, or a bout of diarrhea — perhaps something that occurs during an occasional emotional upset. However, with irritable bowel syndrome, the condition occurs in slow motion. Consider that the emotional trauma or stress has occurred over a long period of time, and the digestive symptoms of IBS can last for years.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy, and lifestyle changes can all help to facilitate the healing of IBS

Some lifestyle changes that may help alleviate symptoms include:

  • Getting adequate exercise helps relieve stress, assists the body with energy movement, helps regulates bowels, and helps alleviate constipation.
  • Practicing stress relief measures, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or quiet time, helps keep IBS symptoms under control.
  • Paying attention to diet and focusing on eliminating foods that trigger symptoms can help. Also, add adequate fiber to the diet. Soluble fiber is gentler on the GI tract and includes foods such as oatmeal, berries, and legumes such as lentils and garbanzo beans. Crude fiber, such as bran and raw vegetables and fruits, along with their skins may be too irritating and should be monitored as a trigger for symptoms. Peeling vegetables and fruits may help. Other foods which are known to be common triggers include greasy or fatty foods, dairy products, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and carbonated drinks.
  • Probiotics can be helpful for some sufferers. There are many different types and variables of probiotics, and some varieties may help some sufferers more than other varieties. Probiotics are supplements that replace the good bacteria in the gut necessary for digestion.
  • Adequate sleep is essential for sufferers because stress, the most common trigger for IBS, is aggravated by lack of sleep. In addition, sufficient sleep helps the body heal and rejuvenate.

Consider giving Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine a try if you find yourself suffering from Irritable Bowel Symptoms (IBS). Give us a call to set up your appointment.

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