Inflammatory Bowel Disease is an umbrella term that describes digestive conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns Disease. These conditions can be seriously debilitating issues that occasionally need extreme care for severe cases although all of them do require long term care.
Crohn’s Disease – This is an inflammation of the intestinal tract that is chronic in nature. It affects mostly the ileum which is the end of the small intestine as well as the colon’s (large intestine’s) beginning, known as the “Cecum” although it can also affect the whole gastrointestinal tract. The entire layer of the bowel wall can also be affected by Crohn’s disease and may leave “skip lesions;” while in the case of Ulcerative Colitis, the superficial thickness of the large intestine is only affected.
Ulcerative Colitis – Like Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis is an inflammatory disease that is essentially chronic in nature; however, it only affects the colon (Large Intestine). The colon’s lining is inflamed, while ulcerations arise that produce pus and bleed. The ulceration and inflammation result in frequent bowel movements, cramping/pain and spasms.
Both Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are autoimmune conditions in which the body attacks itself.
Symptoms of Crohn’s Disease
-Constipation leading to bowel obstruction
-Feeling of incomplete evacuation
-Stomach pain and cramps
-Urgent need to move bowels
More severe symptoms:
-Fissures in the lining of the anus
Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis
-Crampy stomach pain
-Generally bloody stools
-Persistent diarrhea with blood in the stool and stomach pain
-Bowel movements which are more urgent and loose
Symptoms related to IBD:
-Disruption of normal menstrual cycle
Treatment with Chinese Medicine:
Chinese medicine usually discovers different patterns in varied forms of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The patterns seen, however, depend on the patient’s medical history; manifested symptoms; the diagnostic of the tongue, pulse, and abdomen; general demeanor; body odor; color and facial color. All these are collated that results in one of many “diagnostic patterns” that determines what lifestyle, diet, herbal formulas to prescribe and acupuncture points to be treated.
In Chinese medicine the organ system that this type of medicine often refers to needs to be explained. Chinese Medicine attributes an organ to certain functions that don’t necessarily jibe with a western scientific perspective. The “Stomach” and “Spleen,” for example, in Chinese medicine are seen to be responsible for water metabolism and digestive functions. The “Spleen” governs some of the functions of the western conventional medicine’s small intestine, pancreas and spleen. The “Liver” controls the unfettered flow of qi that can be easily blocked by lifestyle, diet, emotions and stress. The “Kidney” controls genetics and water metabolism as well as our “reserves.” The way lifestyle and stress damage the kidneys can be metaphorically described and “burning the candle at both ends.” The “Heart” deals with blood and emotions. “Heat” can describe inflammation while “Dampness” talks about malfunction of water metabolism.
Listed below are some examples of different patterns that can be a diagnosis for Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis including the recommended treatment for the condition.
Spleen Qi Deficiency – Light-headedness, dizziness, spontaneous sweating, shortness of breath with exertion, weakness, fatigue, sallow/waxy pale complexion, appetite loss, diarrhea/loose stools, nausea, early satiety, stomach distention and intermittent dull stomach pain relieved with pressure. There is a possibility of mild bleeding of purplish, dark blood or red blood preceding or following a bowel movement in rare occasions; or unformed, sticky, tarry, black stools; or occult blood in the stool; other signs of bleeding, such as easy bruising or heavy menstrual periods.
Tongue: swollen and pale, with tooth marks (or thin and pale with significant blood inadequacy).
Pulse: moderate or weak, thready.
Suggested treatment: Stop bleeding and nourish blood. Elevate qi and supplement and strengthen Spleen.
Liver Qi invading the Spleen – Cramping stomach pain followed by recurrent diarrhea that can be urgent. Defecation relieves the pain. Alternating diarrhea and constipation and symptoms worsen with eating, tension and stress. There is possibility of blood and mucus in the stool. Other symptoms and signs include breast tenderness, PMS, cold extremities, tension or temporal headaches, neck and shoulder tension, moodiness, depression, irritability, tightness and ache felt more on the right side, hypochondriac discomfort, belching and flatulence that alleviates stomach discomfort, borborygmus, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, poor appetite, stomach distention.
Tongue: slightly red edges with pale, darkish or normal body: greasy coat particularly over the root
Suggested treatment: Stop diarrhea, relieve pain and spasm, strengthen and support Spleen, normalize Liver qi, harmonize Spleen and Liver.
Stagnation of Blood – Chronic loose bowel movement along with tenesmus. Stools can look tarry or sticky , black or purple. Constipation may alternate with diarrhea. Stabbing or sharp stomach pain often felt in the lower left quadrant that is localized and fixed and worsens with pressure. Purple nails, dark rings surrounding the eyes, dark complexion. Vascular abnormalities or spider naevi over the legs, face and stomach.
Tongue: purplish or with purple or brown stasis spots; distended and dark sublingual veins
Pulse: thready, choppy or wiry.
Suggested treatment: stagnant Blood from the Intestines should be eliminated or transformed.
Damp Heat dysenteric disorder – Explosive, foul smelling, frequent diarrhea with pus mucus and blood. Thirst with no urge to drink, dry mouth, red eyes, red complexion, concentrated scanty urine, stomach distention, colicky stomach pain, tenesmus , and burning anus. The early stages may include a floating pulse, headache fevers and chills.
Tongue: coating that is greasy and yellow; if there’s more Heat a dry coat and red tongue; if there’s more Dampness, a tongue coating that is greasy and thick
Pulse: rapid and slippery.
Suggested treatment Principle: Stop pain, normalize Qi, Clear Damp Heat from Intestines.
Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency: Mucoid, watery and thin diarrhea that is relentless, chronic, and may contain blood and pus; rectal prolapse and bowel incontinence in serious cases. The diarrhea worsens with eating of cold foods and cold; a dragging sensation or mild tenesmus in the lower stomach, not alleviated by diarrhea; depression; fatigue; listlessness; appetite loss; persistent mild stomach pain relieved by pressure and warmth; soreness and weakness of the lower legs and back; cold intolerance; cold extremities; and pale or sallow and waxy complexion.
Tongue: A white thin coat that is swollen and pale.
Pulse: Slow, weak, thread and deep.
Suggested treatment: Elevate qi, astringe diarrhea, transform Dampness, disperse Cold, strengthen and warm the Kidney and Spleen Yang and disperse Cold.
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