Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder which is characterised as recurrent abdominal pain, abdominal discomfort, and abnormal bowel habits such as diarrhoea, constipation, alternating or both. IBS is a common disorder that can seriously affect a person’s daily life and work.
Despite the prevalence of the problem, conventional medicine has no clear explanation or reason for the phenomenon. There is also no known treatment or drug that solves the problem from its root and prevents recurrence. Acupuncture may offer relief of symptoms and offer a complimentary path to improve gut health.
Common symptoms of IBS:
include abdominal pain and cramps
bloating and abdominal discomfort
tendency to soft and urgent bowl movements and/or constipation
a feeling of incomplete voiding
mucous or blood may be present in the stool
symptoms tend to worsen due to stress and mental strain
Severity of the symptoms will differ from one person to another. The discomfort, pain and possibility of flatulence and bowl movement urgency causes anxiety, stress and makes every day life challenging.
Acupuncture for IBS
Acupuncture activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces the soothing neural response or otherwise known as "rest and digestion".
Reducing anxiety and depression; these triggers of IBS symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-and-anxiety, a pattern that can lead to feelings of depression.
Acupuncture may help change the chemistry of the mood in the brain, and increase the production of serotonin and endorphins, which help fight these negative emotional states.
There is consistent evidence that a course of acupuncture improves IBS symptoms and general well-being, although there are arguments as to the extent of the placebo-related effect.
Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western biomedicine, and other treatments such as relaxation exercises, herbs and psychotherapy.
CM treatment includes changes in lifestyle and diet adjustments.
The main causes of IBS according to Chinese medicine include stagnation of Liver Qi, weakness of Spleen and Kidney energy, and invasion of harmful effects of cold and heat.
All of these cause an imbalance in the digestive system. CM treatment (acupuncture) will focus on selecting acupuncture points appropriate to the patient's pathology, changing and adjusting diet and relieving and treating stressors.
For medical research and further information regarding the treatment of IBS with acupuncture click here