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Getting to the guts of IBS with Chinese Medicine

by Michael

Chinese Medicine 210x300 Getting to the guts of IBS with Chinese MedicineToday, the term “Irritable Bowel” is used a lot in conversation about digestion, whether someone is just having bloating, indigestion, or irregularity with their ‘plumbing downstairs’. But what IS Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS?

The symptoms of abdominal pain & cramping, bloating, indigestion, constipation and diarrhoea associated with IBS are a result of a change in gut motility or abnormal movement of the bowel. The bowel is sensitive to external stimuli such as stress, drugs and diet, and in response to these triggers, the contractions of the gut (peristalsis) become harsh or spasmodic.

There are two main types of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.

  1. Spastic Colon – Bowel movements ARE NOT happening.

Where the bowel muscle has gone into spasm, producing severe abdominal pain, constipation.

  1. Painless Diarrhoea – Bowel movements ARE happening, perhaps too frequently.

Where the bowel muscle is contracting quickly and motions are loose and urgent.

All in all, there is irregularity in the Bowel and this needs to be regulated. This is where Chinese Medicine can come in handy to relieve the effects of IBS regardless of which phase you’re experiencing.

Regulating the Liver Qi

The medical classics describe the Liver to act like “a general in the army”, directing the flow of qi, evenly and smoothly. When the Liver is depleted or overactive, this balance of smooth flow of qi is disrupted and can cause symptoms as seen in IBS. Generally your digestive qi begins with food put in your mouth, you chew and swallow it, it passes through your oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine before your body eliminates the waste products it doesn’t need – this is a downward direction, from head to the elimination route. To compare Western and Eastern Medicine as above, Spastic Colon would mean the Liver Qi is NOT flowing or stuck and needs to be moved. In the case of Painless Diarrhoea, the Liver Qi is moving too fast and needs to be regulated and normalised. Restoring the smooth flow of the Liver Qi is part of the IBS treatment plan in TCM.

Si Ni San – Translated as: 4 Herbs for Counterflow Formula

Chai Hu, Bai Shao, Zhi Shi, Gan Cao.

Chai Hu the Chief herb normalises the qi dynamic and course Liver Qi,

Zhi Shi the assistant herb moves qi and disperses bind,

Bai Shao, the support, nourishes the Liver and protects Yin,

Gan Cao, the courier herb moderates Liver Qi and softens the hard abdominal pain.

This TCM herbal formula is an example of one way to regulate Liver Qi and also the bowel movements in the case of IBS. Studies show that this particular formula also protects gut mucosa, protects the Liver organ tissue from injury and reduces Liver Fibrosis, meaning that helping the Liver, helps the functions of the Liver including digestion.

Liver 13 (Acupoint) can be used in an acupuncture treatment to help relieve IBS sufferers because it “Regulates the middle and lower area (meaning the abdomen and intestines), regulates Liver Qi. ; This description also begins to paint a picture of IBS: “Indications include injury to Stomach and Spleen from overindulgence in eating, focal distention, drum distention, distention and pain of the abdomen, no pleasure in eating, undigested food in the stool, rumbling abdominal noises, diarrhoea and constipation.”

It continues: “Diarrhoea due to Liver- Spleen Disharmony is distinguished by two main characteristics. The first is that the diarrhoea is preceded by distention and pain and relieved after passing stools. The second is that the diarrhoea frequently alternates with constipation, for which this point is also indicated. This pattern is frequently encountered in Irritable Bowel Syndrome…”

The signs and symptoms of IBS can be relieved with many more herbal formulas and acupuncture points such as these. Maintaining even flow of Liver Qi will bring great relief to anyone suffering IBS and its associated symptoms. Determining exactly what is going on with the Liver Qi is through the use of the tongue and pulse readings by a qualified TCM Practitioner. Suggesting TCM to someone you know who suffers IBS can be the breakthrough they’ve been waiting for.

For more information on IBS contact Katika at Family Wellness Centre today! 9938 1090

Getting to the guts of IBS with Chinese Medicine is a post from: Group Fitness Training Sydney

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