More and more Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers are now turning to acupuncture as a way to relieve their condition. Western medicine addresses this condition using a “one size fits all” approach. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners, on the other hand, approach to IBS is based on the patient’s own unique symptoms. These practitioners avoid using a blanket type of IBS treatment. They believe that the disease is mainly the result of an infection of the gastrointestinal system. However, infection in TCM terms means that pathogenic factors such as heat and dampness have invaded the body, and not necessarily microorganisms like viruses or bacteria. IBS can also come about due to injury caused by poor food choices.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome According to Western Medicine
In Western medicine, IBS, also known as “spastic colon” is a type of functional bowel disorder. The intestines (large and small) do not function properly although no structural damage is revealed during diagnostic testing. IBS is marked by stomach pain and alterations in bowel habits unrelated to any abnormalities seen on routine clinical testing. This condition is quite common and on average make up 35% of visits to gastroenterologists. Women around the ages of 20 to 40 are thrice more likely than men to develop this condition.
IBS can have two forms: One form is Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia and the other Lower Abdominal Pain IBS. The Lower Abdominal form of IBS can be either constipation-predominant (IBS-C) or diarrhea-predominant (IBS-D). The main symptom of IBS-D is diarrhea right after waking or immediately after eating combined with urinary incontinence, urgency, bloating, and pain. IBS-C or Constipation-predominant diarrhea is also called spastic colon and exhibits with pain over at least one side of the colon as well as periodic constipation. The pain may come in bouts or may be continuous and is frequently relieved by moving the bowels. IBS –A or IBS with alternating stool pattern can either be constipation alternating with diarrhea or constipation alternating with normal stools. There is always mucus that accompanies the stools. Other symptoms such as dyspepsia, nausea, gas, and bloating can also be expected. These symptoms can easily by triggered by eating.
IBS-PI or post-infectious IBS is a new important IBS subtype. Various mental disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic pelvic pain, ingestion of food, emotional factors and stress are symptoms that can trigger this type of IBS. Post-infectious IBS gives credence to the belief that a neurological and psychological exists that gives rise to the condition.
Though not yet fully understood, hormones do indeed play a role in the development of IBS. Menstruation can often set off or aggravate the symptoms. The risk of developing IBS increases when a woman undergoes hormone replacement therapy. Stress reduction techniques, diet modification, and anti-diarrhea or anti-spasmodic medication are the Western conventional modes of treatment for IBS.
Tips for Controlling or Avoiding IBS
IBS sufferers should stay on a diet consisting of high fiber. They should avoid smoking, drink plenty of water every day, and avoid large and heavy meals that are rich in fat and lessen stress. Stress can be relieved easily by regular exercise. People with IBS should also develop a regular toilet schedule.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment of IBS
Traditional Chinese Medicine uses acupuncture in Vancouver to remove dampness and heat from within the system by selecting certain acupuncture points along the meridians of the stomach and large intestine most of which are located along the lateral side of the legs and arms. This causes the symptoms to dissipate. At the same time, reinforcement techniques can be used to strengthen the body’s immune system, while stress reducing techniques can relieve stress, thereby preventing future exacerbation of the disorder.
Chinese herbal formula is one other important IBS treatment to consider. In Chinese herbology, a concoction of herbs is formulated to address a patient’s unique constitution. Chinese herbal therapy is a customized form of treatment and only a certified or licensed master herbalist can rightfully perform to treat a patient. No two patients are treated with the same combination of herbs.