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Acupuncture for IBS


This following information is from College of Integrated Chinese Medicine conditions notes and is being used as placeholder text as this page is being developed October - November 2021

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (Kumar, 5th edition, page 326)

Kumar also calls this condition "functional bowel disease". This means that the symptoms have no physically measurable cause, and treatment can only be targeted at the symptoms. In IBS the bowel tends to contract over-forcefully. This tight contraction is called "spasm".
Symptoms of IBS include constipation, diarrhoea which can alternate with each other, and gripy abdominal pain. The stools in IBS are often described as like sheep or rabbit droppings or like ribbons.
The patient may also experience dyspepsia and symptoms of "chronic cholecystitis". Bloating and excess wind are common, and symptoms are characteristically brought on by stress or by eating certain foods. Unlike the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, IBS rarely causes a problem at night-time. Occasionally an attack of IBS can be so severe as to lead to hospital admission for an "acute abdomen".
All tests come back as normal which is always the case for functional diseases.
Conventional treatment is often unsatisfactory. Lifestyle changes focussed on stress management are likely to be most effective. In some people dietary changes such as cutting out dairy products can help. A drug called mebeverine (Colofac®) is commonly prescribed. This tends to relax spasm of the bowel and can relieve symptoms. A preparation called Fybogel® made from a plant called ispaghula is prescribed to provide dietary fibre. This can help patients with IBS who tend to constipation.

In Chinese medicine IBS corresponds to Liver Qi Stagnation invading the Spleen and/or Stomach. Mebeverine appears to smooth Liver Qi, and is suppressive because it does not attend to the root cause of Spleen Qi deficiency. Fybogel® would appear also to smooth Liver Qi. It also does not treat the root cause of the problem.

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