Can Acupuncture Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
By: Lynn Jaffee, Lac, Dipl. OM, MaOM
Yes, it can. An increasing number of studies have been conducted on treating IBS with Chinese medicine, with promising results. These studies have documented that Chinese medicine can effectively treat IBS in a safe and drug-free way.
IBS according to Chinese Medicine
While other patterns may be present, IBS is almost always considered a disharmony between the liver and the spleen in traditional Chinese medicine. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of substances throughout the body. This flow can be upset by emotions or stress, causing stagnation of Qi (energy) or blood. Traditional Chinese medicine views the spleen as being associated with the function of digestion and transforming food into energy (Qi and blood). The spleen can be weakened by a number of factors, including overeating unhealthy foods, overwork, too much worry, fatigue, and lack of exercise. When the spleen is weak and the liver is not moving smoothly, the liver overacts on the spleen and can manifest as symptoms of IBS.
A liver/spleen disharmony is similar to the short-term loss of appetite or a bout of diarrhea that occurs during an occasional emotional upset. With IBS, however, the phenomenon occurs in slow motion; the emotional trauma or stress takes place over a long period of time, and the digestive symptoms of IBS can last for years. The use of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary therapy and lifestyle changes to facilitate healing of this condition.