Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Acupuncture

By: Lynn Jaffee

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also known as Spastic Colon or Mucus
Colitis. It is a motility disorder (involving abnormal movement) of the small
and large intestines. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, constipation
and/or diarrhea, often in alternating episodes. IBS may also be accompanied by
other gastrointestinal problems, such as flatulence, bloating, and nausea.
Symptoms tend to be aggravated by eating, and are frequently relieved after a
bowel movement. An estimated 10-20% of all Americans are affected by symptoms of
IBS, and three times as many women are affected than are men.

What is the cause of IBS?

Currently, the cause of IBS is unknown, however, it is known what does
not cause IBS. IBS is not a structural problem, meaning there is no
anatomical change, nor is it biochemical or infectious in nature. Researchers
are exploring the theory that there are direct links between the brain and the
gut, which would explain why many flare-ups of IBS are affected by emotional
upsets or stress.

How is IBS treated with Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, IBS is considered a disharmony between the
Liver and the Spleen. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of substances
throughout the body. This flow can be upset by emotions or stress, causing
stagnation of Qi (energy) or blood. The Spleen in Traditional Chinese Medicine
is 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 Liver Qi is not moving smoothly, a number
of other conditions can arise that manifest as symptoms of Irritable Bowel

Practitioners of Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine may use a
variety of modalities to correct a Liver/Spleen disharmony. They may use
acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy and lifestyle changes to facilitate
healing of this condition.

Is Traditional Chinese Medicine effective in treating IBS?

Yes. A number of studies have been conducted on treating IBS with Chinese
medicine, especially in China. These studies have documented that Chinese
medicine is an effective, safe, and drug-free way to treat Irritable Bowel

You must be logged in to post a comment.