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IBS Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

IBS Treatment with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine

We treat IBS every day and are highly successful at doing so!

We have a patient who used to be afraid to eat during the work day because she never knew when she might have an IBS attack, keeping her from being able to do her job.  Going all day without eating is not healthy, but can you blame her? She once described IBS as being like a sniper. She never knew what would bring on an attack, so if she ate, she lived in fear of being “shot” at any time without warning.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder which affects twice as many women as men.  It is not easily treatable by available Western medicine. However, at Earley Wellness Group in Dupont Circle, we treat IBS every day and are highly successful at doing so.  The cause is unknown, but stress, the menstrual cycle, menopause, and diet are factors. The symptoms include abdominal pain with diarrhea, constipation, or both. It can also include bloating, gas and other symptoms.  IBS can be moderate to severe, classified based on how often it interferes with daily functioning.  IBS is the most common functional digestive disorder seen by doctors and affects between 5 and 10 percent of the population.

How We Treat IBS

When treating IBS, we pair acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine. Our treatments are aimed at reducing stress and improving the immune system through acupuncture (which lowers the frequency of attacks), and reducing the severity of symptoms through Chinese herbs.  Treatment for IBS is highly individualized. There is no “one size fits all” treatment for IBS.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has thousands of pre-set herbal formulae which might have as many as 30 or more herbs. These recipes are then customized for each patient. Herbs are especially effective at treating IBS because herbs are food and IBS is food-related. However, it is very important to visit a certified herbalist for treatment of IBS. That's because a certified herbalist is trained to know the side effects of herbs with other medications. Plus, herbs can have side effects, but those can be relieved when they are used in the proper combinations by a certified herbalist. An herbalist can administer the herbs in a few different ways. The most common is to freeze-dry the herbs and put them in pill or powder form. Clients drink the herbs in powdered form.

How Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs Help

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs treat IBS successfully in a few different ways.

  1. Relieving symptoms of stress
  2. Pain relief
  3. Regulating motility of digestive tract
  4. Making the gut less sensitive to pain and distention
  5. Lowering anxiety and depression by increasing the production of serotonin and endorphins in the brain

One way of understanding it, best stated by the British Acupuncture Council is, “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.”

Lifestyle Changes to Help with IBS

In addition to trying acupuncture & herbs, we commonly recommend some other lifestyle changes to treat IBS.

  1. Taking regular probiotics
  2. Cognitive therapy to treat stress or underlying issues which may contribute to the problem
  3. Relaxation exercises like yoga or meditation
  4. Regular exercise to relieve stress

Studies of Acupuncture and IBS

To learn more about acupuncture and IBS, here are some studies to review.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930986/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2694961/

Getting Started

To add acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to your arsenal when fighting IBS, make an appointment in our Dupont Circle office today.


Schedule Now!