Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common, chronic condition of the digestive system and can cause you to experience symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, cramps and sickness.  IBS affects up to one in five of us at some point in our lives and is usually a life-long condition.  You might find that your symptoms are linked with certain foods such as alcohol or processed foods, or stress which can cause chemical changes which influence the normal functioning of your digestive system.

what can be done about irritable bowel syndrome?

IBS symptoms have been thought to be caused by an increased sensitivity of the gut and problems with digesting food which causes pain and discomfort.  Dietary elimination can prove very helpful to many, as can supplementation with herbs.  Because of the link between hyperactivity of the nervous system and hormone levels and stress, stress-reduction techniques such as acupuncture, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) should also be considered as a way of preventing or minimising flare-ups of your symptoms.  

Research suggests that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can play an important role in IBS in a number of ways:

  • decreasing muscle spasm in the digestive tract
  • improving abdominal discomfort and bloating
  • improving nausea
  • reducing sensitivities within the gut
  • reducing stress and anxiety

what can i expect from having treatments?

At our clinic, we recommend undergoing core sessions of either acupuncture or Chinese herbal treatment.  This will depend on a number of factors such as what kinds of symptoms you have and what you've identified as triggers for your symptoms.  In our experience, a benefit is seen within 5 or 6 weeks of starting treatment.

If you have an enquiry relating to IBS and are interested in finding out more, feel free to get in touch and we'd be happy to provide you with further advice.   


References

Bensoussan A, Talley NJ, Hing M, Menzies R, Guo A, Ngu M. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1585-9.

Bian Z, Wu T, Liu L, Miao J, Wong H, Song L, Sung JJ. Effectiveness of the Chinese herbal formula TongXieYaoFang for irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 May;12(4):401-7. Review.

Chaiyakunapruk N, Kitikannakorn N, Nathisuwan S, Leeprakobboon K, Leelasettagool C. The efficacy of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting: a meta-analysis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Jan;194(1):95-9. Review.

Ito N, Nagai T, Yabe T, Nunome S, Hanawa T, Yamada H. Antidepressant-like activity of a Kampo (Japanese herbal) medicine, Koso-san (Xiang-Su-San), and its mode of action via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Phytomedicine. 2006 Mar 2

Liu JP, Yang M, Liu YX, Wei ML, Grimsgaard S. Herbal medicines for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD004116. Review.

Ohya T, Usui Y, Arii S, Iwai T, Susumu T. Effect of dai-kenchu-to on obstructive bowel disease in children. Am J Chin Med. 2003;31(1):129-35.

Posted by Lily Lai.