May 24, 2022

Chinese Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Chinese Medicine, including herbalism and acupuncture, for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is very effective. IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It can be mild to severe in discomfort as well as its impact upon one’s quality of life and overall health. IBS is characterized by symptoms that include:

  • Fluctuations between constipation and diarrhea
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Cramping
  • Bloating
  • Excessive gas in the abdomen
  • Indigestion
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Weight loss
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing (1)
  • IBS and Mainstream Treatment

Mainstream treatment in the West maintains typically that IBS is a chronic condition, of indiscernible origin, and that management of symptoms is the usual best-case scenario. Management strategies most often include medication, and lifestyle changes such as dietary changes and stress reduction. Some benefit from counseling as well to increase stress tolerance and coping. IBS can lead to depression and anxiety creating a self-perpetuating cycle and need for another layer of treatment. To make matters worse, depression and anxiety can increase IBS severity, and IBS symptoms can increase depression and anxiety.

The Conceptualization of Digestive Tract Disorders in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, gastrointestinal disorders are understood as an imbalance in the body’s natural energies of the stomach, spleen and liver. These three organs are seen as of primary importance in gastrointestinal issues, and there are many intricacies within each of them, as well as between them. A very simplified example is that the spleen moves food upward and the stomach transports it downward. A disturbance in this delicate balance leads to discomfort and possibly worse.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and IBS

Chinese herbal formulas have proven effective in several aspects of treating IBS. Overall they are tolerated well by most (2) and can target multiple issues at once such as regulating neurotransmitters and hormones, modulating smooth muscle motility in the GI tract, alleviating inflammation, and improving intestinal flora. (3)

Chinese Medicine and a Range of Gastrointestinal Issues

IBS is a fairly common gastrointestinal malady however Chinese medicine is effective for a full range of GI conditions such as:

  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Ulcers
  • Inflammatory issues
  • Circulation problems in the GI system

Notably, this is not an all-inclusive list discussed here. If you would like to consult with Jeffrey about any such problems you are having, please  text (502) 299-8900.

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