Attilio D'Alberto
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Acupuncture For Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder. People with IBS have alternating frequent loose bowels movements to constipation with stomach cramps, including abdominal pain and bloating.

In traditional Chinese medicine the principle cause of IBS is often emotional, for example long term stress, frustration and anger. These emotions relate to the liver organ which damages the digestive system causing stomach pain and diarrhoea.

Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Reducing stress, making dietary changes and boosting stomach strength by taking ginger or peppermint oil can relieve the symptoms of IBS.

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment is effective in relieving symptoms of IBS. It relieves the symptoms by:

  • Providing pain relief
  • Regulating the motility of the digestive tract
  • Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS
  • Activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or 'rest and digest' response
  • Reducing anxiety and stress. It can alter the brain's mood chemistry, increases production of serotonin and endorphins, helping to combat these negative affective states

Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is particularly good at treating prolonged and chronic IBS. People who have an aversion to needles or are weak can benefit greatly from Chinese herbs.

Chinese herbal medicine is particularly good at treating symptoms of IBS. Recent research found that the classical herbal formula Tong Xie Yao Fang was effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome.

Foods that cause IBS

According to Chinese dietary therapy, there are certain types of foods that can aggravate IBS and weaken the digestive system. These foods are:

  • Dairy products
  • Gluten
  • Raw foods such as salads and vegetable juices

A combination of accupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietary changes has the greatest effects upon irritable bowel syndrome.


There has been extensive research into the use of accupuncture to treat IBS. Patients with IBS were divided into two groups; control group and the acupuncture group.

Those in the acup group significantly improved when compared to the control group. Quality of life was much better too. This proves the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of IBS.


Download my irritable bowel factsheet.


Chen, M, et al. Randomised clinical trial: Tong-Xie-Yao-Fang granules versus placebo for patients with diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Jun 1. doi: 10.1111/apt.14817.

Zhu, L, et al. Acupuncture for Diarrhoea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Network Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 May 27;2018:2890465. doi: 10.1155/2018/2890465.