By Li Zheng and David Israel

An Overview of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

It is a common illness that causes digestive distress. It causes symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, constipation, and diarrhea. These normally come and go over a period, but may last for days, weeks, or months at a stretch. IBS is typically a chronic problem. It can be an extraordinarily disturbing disorder to cope with. It could also have a large impact on your normal way of life. There is no known cure for IBS, however, dietary changes, Chinese herbs and acupuncture may help relieve the symptoms of IBS.

Causative factors of IBS:

Functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS are understood to be caused by abnormalities in brain-gut interaction. The exact trigger is undetermined; it has been associated with things such as food passing via your gut too slowly, or even too quickly; oversensitive nerves in your gut; stress; and a family history of IBS. Specialists of IBS believe that complications with brain-gut interaction may affect how your digestion functions and produces IBS symptoms. Women after menopause tend to develop IBS because the imbalance of hormones influence the regular movement of the colon, especially when serotonin level is low.

Acupuncture and the Qi

In the words of traditional Chinese medical practitioners, health is the product of a fraternal balance of the complementary extremes of “yin” and “yang” of the life force or energy known as “qi,” pronounced as “chi”. The ailment is understood to be the direct result of an imbalance of these forces. Qi is said to flow through pathways or meridians in your body. These energy flows are accessed through about more than 450 acupuncture points on the acupuncture channels called meridians.

Acupuncture for IBS

Acupuncture is the prevalent treatment for IBS through balancing the nervous system and improving your digestive function. It has been demonstrated to be useful for healing chronic pain, according to scientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH). Some findings show that acupuncture may help reduce abdominal bloating and other IBS symptoms. They believe acupuncture and herbs push the body's natural healing systems into action. Acupuncture may help the body produce more serotonin and endorphin to reduce the abdominal pain and regulate the intestinal movement. Acupuncture has been proven to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system to normalize the peristalsis, the regular movement of the stomach and intestines with reduced stress level. Medication may help relieve the symptoms, but not improve the digestion of the GI system. Acupuncture balances the nervous system and reduces the hypersensitivity of the gut, so the brain and gut can be connected in a normal harmonized way.

Research supporting acupuncture in IBS treatment

In world J. of Gastroenterology 2014, a research paper reviewed six randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials. The conclusion is that acupuncture can help reduce the pain and regulate the bowel movement and hormones in the intestine. When your digestive system functions better, your immune function will be more balanced and you body will not have chronic inflammation.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. Graduated from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Li Zheng now has 26 years of clinical experience. She holds a PhD in neuroscience from the US and is a Harvard Medical School-trained researcher and a professor at the New England School of Acupuncture. Her two practices are located in Needham, MA, and Boca Raton, FL. To know more about, please visit how acupuncture can relief from IBS.