Irritable bowel syndrome is a condition which has become much more prevalent in recent years. A recent modern condition in western terms, this has been recognized and treated for thousands of years with Chinese Medicine.
Within Chinese medicine this condition refers to a disharmony between the Liver and Spleen. Symptoms commonly associated with this condition include :
• Worse for Stress
• Worse after eating particular things
• Alternating diarrhoea and constipation
• Worse for emotional turmoil
• Loose stools or hard pebble-like stools
Since this is a functional problem rather than a structural problem with the digestive tract, acupuncture is a good treatment choice along with appropriate dietary and lifestyle advice.
IBS is known as ‘Liver invading the Spleen’ in Chinese medicine. The function of the Liver is to ensure the smooth circulation of Qi around the body and by doing this it aids all the other organs in their functions. When the Liver is out of balance then it can upset other organs, and in this case the Spleen, (i.e. the digestive system). The Liver is particularly affected by stress, anger, bitterness, frustration, and resentment. Excessive stress and lack of exercise will cause the energy (Qi) of the Liver to stagnate and this in turn will affect other organs. When the liver qi stagnates, this causes constipation and while the spleen qi is weak, this causes diarrhoea. It is the disharmony between these two that explains that alternation between constipation and diarrhoea.
To treat IBS it is important to smooth the flow of the Liver’s energy and to strengthen the digestive process. Along with acupuncture, this will involve eating food which is easier for the body to digest.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can get good results in treating IBS. It is important to note that with all digestive disorders, appropriate diet and lifestyle changes may be necessary.
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