Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Many sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) seek relief from acupuncture. While some medical practitioners use IBS as a “one size fits all” diagnosis, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach IBS on an individual, symptom-by-symptom basis. Avoiding a standard IBS diagnosis helps to avoid a blanket IBS treatment. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, what is commonly referred to as IBS is mainly caused by the infection of the gastrointestinal system. In TCM, infection is believed to be caused by the pathogenic factors of dampness and heat, either obtained externally (such as from weather) or generated internally (such as internal injury from improper food).

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture to remove dampness and heat from within the system by selecting certain acupuncture points along the meridians of the stomach and large intestine, most of which are located along the lateral side of the legs and arms. This causes IBS symptoms to dissipate. At the same time, reinforcement techniques can be used to strengthen the body’s immune system, while reducing techniques can relieve stress, thereby preventing future exacerbation of the disorder.

Another important component of treatment is the Chinese herbal formula. In Chinese herbology, a group of herbs is combined to specifically address a person’s unique constitution. This is one way in which treatment is very individualized: a board-certified master herbalist will treat no two patients with the same combination of herbs. Most herbalists use a “classical formula” as a foundation. Many classical formulas, written up to 2,000 years ago, are still commonly used today. Groups of herbs can be added or subtracted from classical formulas to customize them for patients.

Tips for Avoiding or Controlling IBS

People who are affected by this disorder should maintain a regular eating habit consisting of high fiber, refrain from heavy and large meals that are high in fat, drink plenty of water daily, avoid smoking, and develop a regular toilet schedule. Regular exercise can help relieve stress, a factor that seems to exacerbate the disorder.

 

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