Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS as it is commonly known, affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. Approximately 20 to 40 percent of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms. So clearly a sizeable number of the population are affected by what can be both a debilitating and embarrassing disorder with no known cause.
Characterized by stomach aches, bloating, nausea and indigestion with continuous or periodic diarrhea and/or constipation, it is posited that these abnormal bowel movements may be caused by a disturbance in the connection between the gut, brain and nervous system. Mental/emotional factors such as stress, certain foods and hormonal factors such as menstruation tend to worsen symptoms, and taking an approach to balance the nervous system often proves to be effective.
Whilst Western medicine usually treats IBS with anti-spasmodic or anti-diarrhea medication, Eastern medicine such as acupuncture prefers to tackle the root cause and customize the treatment to the client’s individual symptoms. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, attributes IBS to a gastrointestinal “infection”. It believes infection to be caused by dampness and heat, with external sources (e.g. damp or hot weather) or internal sources (e.g. overly spicy food). Treating acupuncture points along the stomach and large intestine meridians helps to balance out this heat and dampness and treat the acupuncture symptoms.
Acupuncturists can also balance out the liver and spleen meridians. The liver is responsible for the smooth transportation of substances throughout the body. Stress can upset this flow, resulting in stagnation of qi (energy). TCM sees the spleen as performing proper digestion and transforming food into energy (qi). This balance can be upset by eating too many unhealthy foods, stress, fatigue, overwork and lack of exercise. A weak spleen and a sluggish liver can cause the liver to overact on the spleen, thus manifesting as IBS. Whereas short-term stress can result in sudden bouts of diarrhea or loss of appetite, long-term stress can result in a more gradual buildup of symptoms which, left untreated, can last for years.
As this study and this study show, acupuncture is proven to help with IBS. But certain lifestyle changes can also help too. As a holistic wellness center, Wrightstown Health and Fitness offers other services in conjunction with acupuncture to treat IBS:
If you have IBS and would like to book an appointment with one of our acupuncturists or other practitioners, call us today on: 215-598-7750.