April 30, 2012

IBS, Chinese Medicine & You.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common diagnosis for digestive problems in the United States. Common symptoms include abdominal pain and spasms, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea, flatulence, and nausea.

Although IBS is not life threatening, it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Western medicine has found no clear cause for IBS, but there seems to be many factors involved. Flare ups can be caused by diet, stress and anxiety, and/or drugs and medication.

But there is good news. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has treated billions of people over the past 2,500 years.

During this time, TCM has developed a comprehensive system to diagnose and treat various health issues. By conducting a complete evaluation, a practitioner can uncover the root issues that are involved.

With IBS, Chinese medicine sees the multitude of symptoms that occur as a result of imbalances within the meridians and organ systems of the body. These imbalances may be seen as a liver disharmony, a spleen weakness, dampness in the spleen, excess cold in the spleen, spleen and kidney Yang disharmony, or a spleen and liver disharmony. It could even be a combination of any of the mentioned patterns.

Although Western medicine can help us with many health issues, the medications and drugs that are prescribed to suppress the symptoms often have unwanted side effects. But there are alternatives that can help ease the symptoms associated with IBS that are safe, natural and effective.

TCM practitioners may use acupuncture, herbs, and/or breathing techniques to treat the root cause that the individual displays. They may also suggest at home remedies to help ease the symptoms.

Acupressure is a great way to help yourself relieve some of the nagging symptoms that you may be experiencing. Rubbing acupuncture points with your fingers for 30


to 60 seconds can stimulate and promote the circulation of energy within your own body. This can help restore your health and well-being. The following are some useful acupuncture points that are frequently used to treat some of the symptoms associated with IBS.

Large Intestine 4

Location: On the back of the hand between the thumb and first finger, in the fleshy part of the hand.

Functions: Used for common cold with sweating, fever, headaches, red and painful eyes, and nasal congestion. It can address head, neck, mouth, tooth, face, hand, finger, and wrist pain. It may also be used for throat constriction, dysentery, and regulating the Wei Qi (the Chinese immune system). DO NOT USE DURING PREGNANCY. It is considered the Master Point of the head and face.

Liver 3

Location: On the top of the foot in the depression between where the first and second metatarsal bones meet.

Functions: Used for dizziness, headaches, vertigo, epilepsy, painful and/or blurry vision, irregular menstruation, depression, uterine bleeding and prolapse, urine retention, genital pain, frequent sighing, and insomnia. Do not use during pregnancy.

Stomach 36

Location: Approximately four inches below the kneecap, and one inch or one finger width to the outside of the shinbone.

Functions: Strengthens the entire body and helps fight fatigue. Wakes up the body and mind. Relieves indigestion and other gastric disorders, strengthens the digestive system and supports Wei Qi. Also used for nausea, vomiting, hiccups, fullness and distention of the abdomen, belching, diarrhea, dysentery, pain in the knee and lower leg, mania, depression, dizziness, emaciation due to deficiency, anemia, and headaches. This point is known as “Leg Three Mile” because it is said to invigorate the body so that the person can go another three miles.

While a person should never discontinue or change their medications without speaking with their doctor first, Chinese medicine, along with other natural remedies, can offer ways to combat this annoying syndrome naturally. Western and Chinese medicine actually complement each other very well and it is often in a person’s best interest if their Western doctor and Alternative Medicine practitioner can work together.

Feel free to ask your local acupuncturist for more detailed information about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine may be able to help you with this uncomfortable health issue.


Editor: Lindsay Friedman



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