Acupuncture and IBS
- Posted on: Nov 3 2016
By: Graham Jackette, L. AC.
Millions of people in the United States suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It is a condition that impacts the colon causing issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and urgent/ frequent diarrhea (often alternating with constipation). It is called a syndrome because it does not harm the colon and is not a disease. The symptoms often appear together and are typically exacerbated during times of stress and emotional states. Many people with IBS feel it controls them since they often need to find a bathroom everywhere they go. The exact cause of IBS is unknown and Western medicine doesn’t have much to offer for it. Fortunately, Eastern medicine offers something Western medicine doesn’t—a mind-body connection.
The mind-body connection links certain emotions to specific organ’s energetics. Acupuncturists will take the patient’s emotional state and stress level into consideration to tailor the treatment to that patient since not every IBS patient has the exact symptoms or severity. Acupuncture helps relax the mind and body, which in turn can help calm the gastrointestinal tract. It is a personalized treatment rather than a drug that was made for the masses. It is also recommended to eat healthy foods, identify and eliminate any trigger foods, and modify stress levels.
The basis of acupuncture centers around the concept of qi (pronounced “chee”) which is loosely translated as energy that flows inside the body. The internal organs create and maintain the flow of energy throughout these meridians to keep the body functioning properly. When someone has IBS, acupuncturists see it as an imbalance of energy that is causing the colon to be overactive. The goals of the acupuncture treatments are to regulate bowel frequency, eliminate pain, and help the patient take control their IBS.