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Acupuncture for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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There are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients who have tried all kinds of conventional treatments to help relieve their symptoms but to no avail. Fortunately, they have a wonderful option in natural, effective and safe alternative treatments such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. These two fine medical alternatives have undergone a number of studies and have consistently shown great results in treating IBS. Documents kept in these studies show that acupuncture and TCM to be effective and safe for the treatment of IBS without the need for pharmaceuticals.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is also known as mucus colitis or spastic colon. IBS is a syndrome because it exhibits a series of symptoms that may differ per patient. This condition comes about due to the abnormal movement of the large and small intestines. IBS signs and symptoms can involve diarrhea and/or constipation that are experienced in alternating fashion and stomach pain and cramping. It is usually accompanied by other issues in the gastrointestinal system like nausea, bloating and gas. All symptoms can be exacerbated by severe stress or by overeating and can often be relieved after the patient makes a bowel movement. About 10% to 20% of the people in the United States suffer from IBS and women are more afflicted with this condition than men.

Even with the huge leaps medical science has made these past decades, it still cannot understand what really causes IBS.  Irritable bowel syndrome is not an infection nor is it biochemical in nature. It does not entail ay anatomical change nor does it involve a structural problem. Medical scientists are looking into the belief that there might be problems in the communication between the brain and the gut which may explain why episodes of IBS usually occur during times of stress or emotional upsets.

TCM explains that IBS is the result of an imbalance in energy between the Spleen and the Liver.  The Spleen according to TCM is connected with the digestive function and helps convert food into blood and energy (the Chinese call Qi or Chi). Various factors can weaken the Spleen. They include lack of exercise, fatigue, over worrying, overwork, unhealthy foods and overeating. The Liver, on the other hand, oversees the smooth flow of substances throughout the body. Extreme stress and emotions can upset this flow resulting in blood and Chi stagnation. When the Liver is not moving smoothly and the Spleen is not strong, the Liver overacts on the Spleen that shows up as symptoms of IBS.

An imbalance in Spleen/ Liver can be likened to an episode of diarrhea or short-term appetite loss during times of emotional stress. With IBS, however, these symptoms happens gradually; the stress or emotional problem lasts over a long period of time, and the IBS symptoms can endure for years.

Practitioners of TCM particularly acupuncturists are knowledgeable in the treatment of Spleen/Liver disharmony using various methods. Based on the symptoms and attributes of the patient, the acupuncturist may recommend lifestyle changes, dietary therapy, Chinese herbs and, of course, acupuncture to help treat and even cure this malady.

There are certain lifestyle changes that can aid in the reduction of IBS symptoms. They include:

Getting enough sleep to help manage properly the symptoms. The most common trigger for IBS symptoms is stress. Stress can come about due to lack of sleep. Sleep also enables the body to regenerate and heal.

Use of probiotics – Probiotics are supplements that aid the beneficial bacteria in the gut to improve digestion. One good probiotic you can take is yogurt. Yogurt contains good bacteria like lactobacillus acidophilus.

Dietary changes – Treatment for IBS should always include removing foods that trigger IBS symptoms replacing them with healthy foods rich in fiber content to the diet. Fiber that is easily soluble is very good for the GI tract. These kinds of foods include legumes like split peas and lentils, berries and oatmeal.  Crude fiber can irritate the gut and foods with crude fiber can even trigger IBS symptoms. Some foods with crude fiber include raw vegetables and oat bran. Foods that can irritate the gut include carbonated drinks, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, dairy products ad fatty or greasy foods.

Availing of quiet time and stress relief activities like breathing exercises, yoga, visualization or meditation. The removal of stress is very important to properly manage your IBS symptoms.

Exercise –Exercising especially regular exercise does help in treating stress. Regular exercise also helps treat constipation, regulates the bowels and moves energy.

Bhakti Acupuncture
7550 France Ave S #220
Edina, MN 55435
Phone: (952) 230-0754

Written by Valerie

June 21st, 2014 at 6:58 am

Posted in Acupuncture

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