Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition of the digestive system. Symptoms include alternatiing loose bowels to constipation with stomach cramps and bloating.
In Chinese medicine the principle cause of irritable bowel syndrome is emotional, for example stress, frustration and anger. These emotions relate to the liver organ which then damages the digestive system causing stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Acupuncture for IBS
Research has shown that acupuncture is effective in relieving sypmtoms of IBS. Acupuncture releives the symtpoms of irritable bowel syndrome by:
- Providing pain relief
- Regulating the motility of the digestive tract
- Raising the sensory threshold of the gut. Various possible mechanisms have been identified, involving spinal nerves and NMDA receptors and a range of neurotransmitters. A lowered threshold to bowel pain and distention are hallmarks of IBS.
- Increasing parasympathetic tone. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which can stimulate colon spasms, resulting in abdominal discomfort. In people with IBS, the colon can be oversensitive to the smallest amount of conflict or stress. Acupuncture activates the opposing parasympathetic nervous system, which initiates the relaxation or 'rest and digest' response.
- Reducing anxiety and depression. The distress provoked by IBS symptoms can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety-pain-anxiety, while the embarrassing nature of the condition can lead to feelings of depression. Acupuncture can alter the brain's mood chemistry, increases production of serotonin and endorphins, helping to combat these negative affective states.