What is IBS?
Everyone has experienced the occasional upset stomach, and knows how uncomfortable that can be. But individuals with IBS experience gas, bloating, cramping, pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation on a regular basis.
In fact, IBS can lead to people having to plan their activities around the availability of restrooms – and that’s not a fun way to live. I’ve had athletes tell me they map out runs so that there is always a bathroom close by, and delivery drivers tell me they know where every public restroom is along their routes.
From the western perspective, IBS is poorly understood. The strength of intestinal contractions can be weaker or stronger than normal. Signaling between the intestines and the brain may be poorly coordinated. And there may be greater sensitivity to stretching of the intestinal wall.
However, I’m happy to report that most patients with IBS can expect improvement and/or resolution of their symptoms with acupuncture.
The good news is that acupuncture has been shown to help with IBS.
For instance, a recent study showed that “Electro-acupuncture is equivalent to Ioperamide (Imodium) for reducing stool frequency in IBS-D and FD patients” (Electro-Acupuncture for Patients with Diarrhea-Dominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Functional Diarrhea”, Medicine (Baltimore), 2016 June;95(24):3884).
To see the entire article, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4998466/
And in a meta-analysis of acupuncture research, it was found that “acupuncture exhibits statistically and clinically significant control of IBS symptoms”. (Effectiveness of Acupuncture to Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis”, World J Gastroenterol, 2014 Feb 21;20(7):1871-1877).
To see the entire article, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930986/
Many IBS patients have also told me that they find that their symptoms get worse with increased stress levels. Acupuncture is great at lowering the activity of the fight or flight nervous system, and this in turn allows digestive system to function better.
Jim Stegenga, L.Ac.
Serving Olympia, Lacey, and Tumwater, and the South Puget Sound