Alternative Treatment Options for IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS, is a common disorder that affects the colon and can cause disruption to everyday life. There are several ways to manage IBS ranging from pharmaceuticals to simple changes in diet and lifestyle. However, many do not realize that Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, and NAET Allergy Elimination are also highly effective.
Symptoms of IBS may include: gas, bloat, alternating constipation and diarrhea, pain, mucus, abdominal cramping. For many these symptoms start to develop over time, and there are no anatomical changes that can be detected to determine the cause. Although the cause of IBS is unknown, most doctors agree that stress and diet could be triggers. Studies have shown that women suffer from IBS more frequently then men.
Traditional Chinese Medicine does not diagnose the same way as Western medicine does. You will never hear an acupuncturist tell you that you have IBS. However, you may hear “liver-spleen disharmony” due to stress. Remember, when a TCM practitioner refers to an organ system they do not mean the physiological organ system associated with Western medicine. Rather, they are referring to the energetics of the organ system and meridians associated to Traditional Chinese Medicine. The liver is in charge of the free flow of energy, blood and oxygen to the spleen and stomach. The spleen and stomach organ systems are responsible for digestion and taking the nutrients from the food to be transported back to the liver organ system which then makes the “blood”. This function of the spleen is commonly referred to transporting and transforming the food.
When the liver energy becomes stagnant through emotions such as stress, frustration, anger, moodiness, unresolved emotions, and tightness in the body (the liver is kind of a cranky organ system and is sensitive to these emotions), this hinders proper digestion and what can result is acid, belching, nausea, abdominal distention, and bloating. Diarrhea or constipation can occur, or alternating constipation and diarrhea. Other common symptoms of liver qi stagnation are PMS, cramping with clots and irregular menstruation. The most important part of the treatment plan to get to the root of the issue would be to decrease stress. Stress plays a huge role in so many pathologies. Regardless of if you choose acupuncture, reiki (or other energy work), yoga, meditation, or mindfulness certain lifestyle changes may be appropriate.
Another common cause of IBS is food sensitivity. Eliminating trigger foods has been shown to help tremendously. NAET Allergy Elimination has been shown to be incredibly beneficial for most digestive issues including IBS. Here are some things to consider eliminating:
Too many cold, raw vegetables: In order to properly digest raw foods your body must first bring it down to body temperature. This causes it to work harder than needed which can dampen the digestive fire and leads to malabsorption. Cook vegetables (steam) instead and eat them warm.
Cruciferous vegetables and legumes: These are healthy but can cause gas and bloating in sensitive individuals.
Dairy: Lactose intolerance can lead to digestive ailments. If you aren’t sure, try eliminating dairy such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
Eating fast, while angry or hurried: When you eat or drink quickly, you might be inhaling too much air and eating too much. Eat slowly and mindfully.
Other triggers: Sensitivities might include chocolate, carbonated drinks, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, greasy food or processed food. Hormonal changes could also be a factor in increased IBS symptoms.
How to know for sure? It is always best to see your primary medical provider to see if you have IBS and not something more serious. Your TCM practitioner can help you by helping you to understand the pattern that you fall into according to Chinese medicine, administer acupuncture and perhaps recommend herbal medicine, and adjust your diet to eliminate triggers that are irritating for your particular constitution.
Some recommendations for IBS include acupuncture to improve flow in the abdomen and ease stress, reiki (and other energy work) to aid in stress, NAET Allergy Elimination, herbs, increasing fiber (gradually, or it could worsen symptoms), abdominal massage, exercise (such as tai qi, qigong), and probiotics to increase good bacteria in the stomach. Peppermint, magnesium, and chamomile have also been found to help soothe and ease symptoms.
Calandra Center for Health and Wellness offers a variety of modalities that have been shown to be beneficial for IBS including: Acupuncture, NAET Allergy Elimination, Reiki, Ayurvedic Medicine. Please contact us for your complementary 15 minute phone consultation.
CCHW is located in Chicago’s South Loop and in Arlington Heights Illinois.