Acupuncture for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a digestive disorder. People with IBS have alternating frequent loose bowels movements to constipation with stomach cramps, abdominal discomfort, including abdominal pain and bloating.
Symptoms of IBS are alternatively loose bowels to normal bowels to constipation.
The causes of IBS can be either stress, the menstrual cycle and certain foods. 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.
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
- Raw foods such as salads and vegetable juices
4. Treatment for irritable bowel syndrome
Reducing stress, making dietary changes and boosting stomach strength by taking ginger or peppermint oil can relieve the symptoms of IBS.
- 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 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. Recent research found that the classical herbal formula Tong Xie Yao Fang was effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
5. Research proven benefits
There has been extensive research into the use of traditional acupuncture to treat IBS. Patients with IBS were divided into two groups; control group and the acupuncture group.
Study researchers have shown in controlled trials that acupuncture treatment is effective in relieving symptoms of IBS when compared to placebo acupuncture. Research staff involved in randomized controlled trials saw these outcome measures:
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. Accupuncture 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.
Hou, T, et al. Electroacupuncture inhibits visceral pain via adenosine receptors in mice with inflammatory bowel disease. Purinergic Signal. 2019 Jun 11. doi: 10.1007/s11302-019-09655-4.
Yan, J, et al. Acupuncture plus Chinese Herbal Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2019 Apr 14;2019:7680963. doi: 10.1155/2019/7680963.
Horta, D, et al. A Prospective Pilot Randomized Study: Electroacupuncture vs. Sham Procedure for the Treatment of Fatigue in Patients With Quiescent Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019 May 15. pii: izz091. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izz091.
Ji, M, et al. Comparison of effects of electroacupuncture at "Tianshu" (ST25) and "Dachangshu" (BL25) on intestinal sensitivity and expression of muscarinic M3R and 5-HT3AR in irritable bowel syndrome rats. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2019 Apr 25;44(4):264-9. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.180764.
Qin, Y, et al. Effect of electroacupuncture of "Hegu" (LI4) and "Zusanli" (ST36) on intestinal sensitivity and motility in irritable bowel syndrome rats. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2020 Apr 25;45(4):293-8. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.190743.