IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME RELIEF
Healthy Living Blog
By Rachelle Tetreault, L,Ac
Irritable bowel syndrome, otherwise known as IBS, affects up to 25% of the population in the United States alone. It remains to be the number one reason patients visit their gastroenterologist. Though there is no clear etiology (cause), Eastern Medicine has provided great relief for this G.I. disorder. Not only is it a common disorder of the G.I. tract but it can involve the esophagus, stomach, both small and large intestine, biliary tract, and even the oropharynx. Diet is a key factor as well as stress control. There are specific acupuncture points as well as food therapy and simple lifestyle changes that make all the difference in treating IBS. Optimal treatment of IBS focuses on not only alleviating the symptoms but also the root cause which creates the bowel irritation in the first place.
The treatment for IBS is geared at soothing any irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. This irritation sometimes is created by stress, drugs, certain foods, or chemicals. It is important to both restore and regulate these G.I. functions, relieving both diarrhea and constipation, alleviating any cramps, pain, spasms, or inflammation, along with the bloating and gas which may accompany this disorder. In Eastern Medicine, this can be accomplished by regulating the liver energy, nourishing the spleen, clearing any damp-heat in the gastro-intestinal tract, and stopping diarrhea and constipation that may exist.
Much success is seen in chronic cases of IBS where both an herbal prescription and acupuncture points can help reset the cycle and allow the body to regulate on its own. The herbal prescriptions are geared at treating the liver energy of the body which is overacting on both the spleen and the stomach. These symptoms typically present as loose stools, pain, mucus in the stool, bloating, and even incomplete evacuation of stool. Sometimes constipation can be present or may alternate with diarrhea. Certain herbs can reduce inflammation in the intestines and clear damp-heat which creates the symptoms which exist with IBS. Certain acupuncture points and herbs together help nourish the spleen and rid the body of dampness. Other empirical points help nourish the blood to soften the liver and relieve cramps. Together, herbal formulas and acupuncture can treat both the root cause by tonifying the spleen and spreading the liver energy. The end results can be seen by relieving both flatulence and bloating, regulation of bowel movements, and stopping any existing abdominal pain.
Some foods create more gas and may need to be halted until treatment is complete. These include onion, soda, cabbage, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Eating a diet high in fiber like whole grains and nuts is ideal. Drink warm liquids with meals. No ice or cold drinks should be consumed because this constricts blood flow hindering digestion and eventually dampens the spleen. Foods high in vitamin A, C, and E help reduce any cell damage on the intestinal cellular level. These may include citrus, carrots, green tea, and many green leafy veggies. Chew food completely. Avoid any processed foods and it is never good to skip breakfast. Digestion works more optimally with frequent small, regulated meals which help nourish the body and naturally strengthen the spleen. When the spleen becomes deficient, bowels may become loose and digestion is affected.
Stress is a huge factor in contributing and even causing IBS. Stress directly affects our liver energy and hence creates liver overacting on spleen and stomach which gives birth to IBS and other digestive issues. Learning ways to de-stress and handle negative stressors in a more positive way creating a huge impact in long-term progress. Certain acupoints located on the body help calm the nervous system and allow the body to reset and restore what is lost by stress. The immune system is more effectively regulated and optimal digestion can be restored.
The Ren meridian has specific points which not only relieves constipation but can reduce both abdominal pain and gas. The Stomach meridian has an empirical point which both strengthens the digestive system and regulates the immune system. These are both used as major meridians in both managing and treating IBS.
Additional relief can be found in peppermint oil (mentha piperita) which has been shown to help reduce gas and cramping. Gentian root can be taken up to 20 drops fifteen minutes prior to meals to improve overall digestion. Other helpful remedies may include probiotics, digestive enzymes, and ginger root. Ginger helps reduce bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This can be accomplished by drinking one cup of fresh ginger tea with meals. Vegetable juice fasting for three days has also been shown to help eliminate toxins that have built up in the body and allow the G.I. tract to calm and reset.
IBS can have different root causes for each person and needs to be assessed individually for optimal treatment and relief. Please call today for your full assessment and treatment. Let’s start the journey to optimal health today! Call 772-353-1397